When the idea for a planned community north of Eagle first came about in 2002, the housing market was strong. But final approval for the 35 square mile project known as Avimor didn’t come until 2008. By then, home sales in the Treasure Valley had tanked.
The timing couldn’t have been much worse. The developers and landowners who partnered for the project essentially pushed the pause button on Avimor and waited for the housing market to get better. They’d planned on selling thousands of homes. They'd sold just 23.
“Avimor was done with all cash,” says project General Manager Dan Richter. "There was never any financing or anything like that. We didn’t have banks knocking at the door. We can just turn out the lights for awhile and wait for the crowds to be back. Which is what we did.”
But as home sales have increased in the Treasure Valley, Avimor may finally be finding its legs. Richter says there were 25 home closings in the development last year. He expects to have 100 homes standing by the end of 2013. He anticipates doubling this year’s sales in 2014.
In what Richter calls the “heady” days of 2004-2006, developers planned to build the community in eight phases of 200 to 300 lots.
“We brought on a new phase this summer and it was 43 lots,” Richter says. “Next year we’re looking at about 100 lots for a phase. So it’ll probably be a few years before we’re back into those days Avimor was designed for.”
Richter thinks it’ll take 20 years before the project is completely finished. But the development has momentum it’s never had before. He gives credit to people buying in Avimor for purchasing homes so early in such a large project.
“To go out into a new community with all kinds of promises and all kinds of things that are going to happen, you have to have an adventurous type,” he says. “So you start slow. Then the momentum grows like a snowball rolling. It just grows and grows and grows until you reach the momentum you planned.”
Those looking to buy new homes in the Treasure Valley have fewer options than they did in the lead-up to the housing crash. Avimor is benefiting from that lack of new inventory, and Richter expects that to continue. He says the beating that banks and developers took during the recession are still fresh in their minds. He thinks it’ll be some time before anyone attempts to build a similarly-sized project in the Treasure Valley.
“For somebody to go in and get the land, 23,00 acres, and then to put in the infrastructure to support what we have here – you’re probably $200 million or more into the project,” Richter says. “And then to finance that and support that debt, it’s pretty much unfeasible.”
Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio