Despite five failed state trust land auctions since August — including two on Thursday — Arizona Land Department officials are still hopeful about plans to sell 1,030 acres in Apache Junction in December.
The department canceled two auctions scheduled for Thursday out of concerns that no one would show up to bid.
The parcels, in the Desert Ridge master planned community in northeast Phoenix and in Fountain Hills, probably will be sold at a lower price sometime in 2007, Deputy Land Commissioner Jamie Hogue said.
“We decided it was in the best interest to reschedule for both these properties and have them reappraised,” Hogue said.
It’s likely that the Desert Ridge piece will be divided into sections that would be sold separately, she added.
The department has canceled or postponed auctions for four properties — twice for the Desert Ridge parcel — since August due to lack of developer interest.
The Land Department held an auction Aug. 8 for the 325 acres of Desert Ridge land, but no builder or investor agreed to pay the $150 million asking price.
Thursday’s auction was canceled when department officials predicted another no-show.
The land was appraised at nearly $462,000 an acre in January, at a time when trust land at Desert Ridge was selling for up to $1 million an acre.
The 1,276-acre parcel in Fountain Hills, priced at $130 million, also will be reappraised, which Hogue said will take a few months.
Most real estate experts agree Arizona is likely to suffer a continued downturn in the housing market, causing some developers to take a wait-and-see attitude toward buying more land.
Still, Hogue and others remain confident developers will want to buy the Apache Junction land, known as Lost Dutchman Heights.
The property, valued at $45.3 million and scheduled for auction Dec. 9, is considered the first phase of what local leaders envision as a future 275-square-mile community between Apache Junction and Florence called Superstition Vistas.
“Lost Dutchman Heights is a different beast,” Hogue said. “It represents the future of development.”