The following explanation of Master-Planned Communities was provided by Tim Rogers of Century21 Distinguished Properties.
Master-Planned Communities have a unique and ongoing history in the U.S. housing market. The origins of the Master-Planned Community in the Valley can be traced to a Californian named Simon Eisner. In the mid 1960's the city fathers of Scottsdale foresaw the coming tremendous growth in the area and asked Eisner to assist the city planners in developing a "General Master Plan" for the city.
The first tangible outcome of the city's efforts was the Master-Planned Community of McCormick Ranch. The first in the Valley, it was truly a Master-Planned Community in that in addition to the housing plats, the city included office parks, recreational parks, and commercial centers. The original planners also even incorporated hotels/motels into the community's plans.
How do you know if you're in a Master-Planned Community or simply a typical subdivision? Generally, they are distinguished by the tremendous number of amenities and conveniences, and the over-all enormous land area the community encompasses in a Master-Planned Community. For example, because of their sheer size, Master-Planned Communities will incorporate extensive recreational amenities like lakes, golf courses, and expansive parks with bike paths, and jogging trails. Alternatively, the typical subdivision may have an occasional smaller park or recreation area, and the size of the local neighborhood will be much smaller than found in a Master-Planned Community.
Subdivisions will be surrounded with general shopping, strip and/or commercial centers, but these local amenities are not part of the over-all original plan for the subdivision. Builders will build and hope/assume that retail and commercial development will follow. In the Master-Planned Community all these amenities are planned and included in the initial stages by the city and developers before shovel one is turned over in the development.
However, Master-Planned Communities and subdivisions do have one thing in common. Because of the sheer size of new home projects in the Valley today, most projects are simply too large for one builder or developer to handle. Usually a group of individual builders/developers will join together and develop 'localized' sections of the Master-Planned Community. One very important benefit of this 'multi-developers' concept is there is almost always a wide variety of building styles, house floor plans, lots sizes, landscaping styles, and, of course. pricing options throughout the community. In addition each 'section' that is developed by individual builders or a group of builders will have it's own unique Codes, Covenants and Restrictions (CC&R's) that maintain the quality and over-all standards of the community.
Chris Fiscelli, writing for the Reason Public Policy Institute, refers to Master-Planned Communities as "suburbia's response to the boring, cookie-cutter, detached globs of housing that still make up much of America's suburban nation." The popularity of the Master-Planned Community concept is illustrated by the number of homes that are being built and sold in the Valley. It is estimated that almost 75% of all resale homes that go through our standard escrow/title process in the Phoenix area are in Master-Planned Communities. Recent estimates show that over 80% of new home construction permits issued by Valley building departments were issued for homes in a Master-Planned Communities!