Developer Larry Miller is so happy with the way homes are selling in northern Pinal County, he threw a huge party for his residents Saturday and donated a big chunk of his profits to the nearby regional park.
Miller, creator of San Tan Heights southeast of Queen Creek, organized the outdoor shindig to celebrate the opening of the 2,100-acre masterplanned community’s second phase. He has already sold nearly 1,000 homes and still has room for 4,500 more, he said.
"It has actually exceeded our expectations, but it doesn’t surprise me," Miller said.
San Tan Heights is right in the middle of one of the state’s hottest growth corridors, along with Johnson Ranch, Copper Basin and other communities along Hunt Highway. A grass-roots effort is under way to convert the area into a city that would bear the name "San Tan," just like Miller’s project.
Not everyone likes the idea of a city, especially a group of longtime residents living in the sparsely populated foothills around San Tan Mountains Regional Park.
But they seem to like Miller. In fact, they gave him an award in front of the party’s approximately 700 attendees.
Area resident Alden Rosbrook, president of conservationist group San Tan Mountains Pride, presented Miller with a handmade plaque bearing a relief image of the mountains as thanks for Miller’s recent $150,000 contribution to the park.
"We want you to know how thankful we are when developers of vision, like yourself, demonstrate the ability to recognize and utilize the unique amenities this area can offer new arrivals to the community," Rosbrook said when giving the award.
His rural neighbors also are pleased with the way San Tan Heights has used the existing geography to its advantage, Rosbrook said, such as a trail system that leads to the park’s entrance.
Miller said the trails and other features are part of his goal to have "the nicest master plan on this side of the park."
As for the financial contribution, he said, that took a little more convincing. Miller credited Pinal County Supervisor Sandie Smith, DDistrict 2, for talking him into making the donation, which will be used for entrance markers and other features.
Smith said she has now collected more than $300,000 from area developers, which is important because the park has been without adequate funding for improvements and maintenance.
But that’s changing, she said. Fencing is under way to protect the park from illegal use, and a visitor center is scheduled to break ground this week. "Things are starting to happen," she said.