On the breezy and chilly-in-the-shade morning of March 28, 2011, I attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the first phase of residential development at Mesa Del Sol in Albuquerque. On that stretch of approximately 12,900 acres situated East of I-25 and South of the Albuquerque Sunport, lay Albuquerque’s new housing future, among other hopes and dreams. It was a modest media event, attended by local dignitaries, business and industry movers-n-shakers, and of course, the select four home builders chosen to kick off the first neighborhood of new homes soon to be built. The builders are Paul Allen Homes, Pulte Homes, Rachel Matthew Homes and Raylee Homes. It will still be about 6 months down the road before the infrastructure is in place to begin building houses, so new home sales in the community should begin in the early part of 2012.
If you are a new home builder on the West Side of Albuquerque, the opening of a Mesa Del Sol residential community can be considered both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand (the cursed hand), new residential options east of I-25 (and there are very few) will certainly funnel some business away from new home developments on the West side of I-25. On the other hand (the blessed hand), it presents a true free market opportunity that always benefits the new home buyer, since new home builders will have to step up their competition against each other in order to earn the buyer’s business. Um, okay, so maybe there really isn’t any blessing in this for builders on Albuquerque’s West Side. Fortunately, for all four of the builders chosen to kick off the first residential phase in Mesa Del Sol, they each already have a presence on the West side of I-25 as well. For them, Mesa Del Sol presents a potential “win-win” situation as they are hedged on either side of town. For those new home builders not in Mesa Del Sol, it will mean marketing the attributes of the West Side of Albuquerque that are unique to it alone, as well as making their product stand out.
Mesa Del Sol is marketed as a wave-of-the-future community. All the homes built there will be Silver Leed certified at a minimum. There will be numerous integrated trails and parks throughout the development in order to foster neighborhood activities and enhance quality of life. There is intended to be sufficient business and employment opportunity clustered on the Northern end of the community in order to provide quality jobs for the residents within Mesa Del Sol. In principle, it will be like a city-within-a-city, able to meet the needs of everyday life without ever having to leave the planned community. With such a neighborhood structure, there will no doubt be community rules and regulations (and fees) to support that vision. That last point is, perhaps, the one potential Achilles Heel for Mesa Del Sol.
In a day and age when encroaching government authority, and consequently, authority of various kinds, is increasingly frowned upon by Americans, the idea of living in a community where tight reigns will be placed on how things look and how things are managed will, in my opinion, serve to work against the sales pitch somewhat. The renderings and animations on Mesa Del Sol’s web site depict an urban paradise with areas of green grass, sparse automobile traffic, and people riding bikes, playing in parks, and enjoying the beauty of the Southwest. But what are the possible pitfalls the future may hold for Mesa Del Sol? Will that much green grass be sustainable, or will it have to all be replaced with artificial grass one day? Will there be a sufficient New Mexico demographic that wants the new urbanism lifestyle? Will the traffic at the intersection of University and Rio Bravo become overloaded at some point, making Mesa Del Sol unappealing for those who live there but don’t work there? To be certain, I give credit to the developers and planners who have no doubt already asked themselves these same questions and many others. Regardless, the immediate future of housing presents itself with even tougher questions and challenges that need to be considered.
An acquaintance I spoke with at the groundbreaking ceremony asked whether or not I thought this was “a good time” (i.e. to kick off residential development in Mesa Del Sol). My response was, “When is it ever a good time?” I believe that Mesa Del Sol deciding to break ground on its first phase of residential development at a time of deep economic uncertainty in this Country, and indeed the world, is a bold move. Will it prove to be a smart move? Only time will tell. In the mean time, without robust job creation in Albuquerque, Mesa Del Sol may not get very far beyond the first phase of residential development for a few years. Some 200 plus homes are planned for the first residential phase, which I believe will be fairly successful under the circumstances. With 2,000 people already working in Mesa Del Sol, the appeal of living that close by should make the first phase go rather quickly. Come sometime in the first quarter of 2012, we will all see for ourselves whether or not that strategy pans out. After that, all bets are off for me. And it’s not for the reasons I’ve already stated about the “what ifs” of Mesa Del Sol itself. Rather, it continues to be my concern about the direction of the United States of America at large. A planned community in Albuquerque is never going to be insulated from the juggernaut which is the United States Economy in 2012 and beyond.
Nevertheless, despite my known bearish tendencies, Mesa Del Sol today represents a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gray haze of the local new home market, and I think it will prove to be a benefit to the city of Albuquerque. It has all the makings of a fantastic community, with a very broad scope of consideration given to the overall impact on the environment as well as on the residents who will live there. And, if in this day and age of perpetual bad news you find yourself lacking much enthusiasm or vision for the future of Albuquerque, you owe it to yourself to at least pay Mesa Del Sol a visit. Just exit Rio Bravo off of I-25, go east a few hundred feet and then turn South on University Boulevard and see Mesa Del Sol for yourself.
Article Written By David Murphy – Publisher – SalesTraq
Teaser Photo Povided by Great Valley Center