East Valley’s condo craze reflects shift in lifestyles - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

East Valley’s condo craze reflects shift in lifestyles

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Posted: Saturday, November 19, 2005 7:24 pm | Updated: 8:33 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Arizona living is undergoing a transformation with the emergence of the urban condominium, which is becoming the principal feature in the revitalization of several East Valley downtowns and other older areas. Either proposed, planned or under construction are several condo complexes from low- to mid- to high-rise in downtown Scottsdale and Tempe as well as in west Mesa.

This major change in residential uses reflects a change in the region’s demographics. As so many families are moving into new traditional single-family homes in Gilbert, Queen Creek and northeastern Pinal County, so many singles and childless couples are opting to live in smaller, upscale quarters in the heart of the action in older areas that are close to work, shopping, dining and nightlife.

Arizona’s great in-migrations since World War II consisted in significant part of those seeking to abandon crowded, expensive urban environments of Eastern and Midwestern cities in favor of cheap land on which they could afford to build dream houses that were beyond their financial reach in their home states.

Sunshine, recreation and a fresh start still beckon such people today. But as Valley cities have filled in and the sheer numbers of new arrivals have markedly increased, those affordable single-family models so prominent in the dreams of earlier newcomers are now distant from urban cores.

Moving to Arizona once meant a complete escape from crawling, stifling traffic and a long commute. Now, many who have just arrived must choose between more house farther out and less house closer in, not a very palatable choice, to be sure.

Steadily becoming in vogue recently is a third alternative: upscale house, closer in, in the form of the condominium. Many are opting to buy a low-maintenance condo that will enable them to leave their cars garaged as they walk or take public transportation to any number of nearby amenities. This is a market-based response to sprawl that is taking hold.

The Tribune has reported several such ventures in various stages. Each has the promise of doing with areas long awaiting reanimation what little previously proposed could: Start a chain reaction of commercial re-emergence replacing old or closed businesses with new, exciting and varied ones.

Is this the West envisioned by our precursors who migrated here decades ago? Probably not. But it is the one sought by more and more homebuyers eager to spend their lives outside the car and inside museums, theaters, shopping malls and boutiques and inside complexes that offer wide arrays of personal services.

All of us benefit from these emerging older areas, even if we are not the condo type ourselves. After so many years in which local governments were unable to crack the case of the missing downtown, it’s refreshing to see people wanting to live there in greater numbers than there are homes to sell them.

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