Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Holding?s Arizona land sells again

Buyer pays 20-times Holding?s original purchase cost

Express Staff Writer

For the second time in as many years, a prized 123-acre Arizona tract once owned by Sun Valley Resort owner Earl Holding and Sinclair Oil has been sold at another substantially higher profit than an earlier sale price.

Scottsdale-headquartered Five Star Development announced it paid nearly $100 million in May for the land—considered by Arizona real estate experts as the most valuable undeveloped property in the Phoenix metropolitan area—for development as a $1.5 billion Ritz-Carlton Community. The community will combine a 229-room resort hotel with luxury homes and residential villas.

Located on the boundary of the city of Scottsdale and the Town of Paradise Valley, the land is essentially desert, covered with greasewood shrubs and cactus, but surrounded by burgeoning residential and commercial development.

Holding was reported by The Arizona Republic to have paid $5.2 million for the parcel in the 1970s.

He then sold it in 2005 to Marriott International for a reported $86 million, according to a spokesman for the Paradise Valley planning department. That would be slightly more than 15 times what Holding paid originally.

When Marriott sold the tract to Five Star Development two months ago for nearly $100 million, that would be nearly 20 times Holding's original purchase price.

Five Star Development, which has completed 50 residential, industrial, resort and retail developments totaling 15 million square feet in Arizona, Mexico, California and Texas, will build the new Arizona resort, which will be managed by Ritz-Carlton under contract.

The property is in an area of at least a half dozen major resorts and professional-class golf courses.

The Paradise Valley area also is home for a number of celebrities, including former Vice President Dan Quayle and former longtime television personality Hugh Downs, plus members of Phoenix pro sports teams.

The late Sen. Barry Goldwater, who built a mountaintop home there, delighted in telling the story of his father's ill-placed advice to never buy land in Paradise Valley—50 cents an acre was a fool's price, he said.

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