Twenty old homes north of downtown Phoenix will be torn down in June to make way for a new apartment development that will bring another 329 rentals to the area.
North Carolina-based Crescent Communities bought the houses, built between 1915 and 1950, in late March.
The properties span the block along both Earll Drive and Cheery Lynn Road between Third and Fifth streets.
Crescent paid almost $7 million for the homes, which aren’t designated historic, and a few vacant lots on the blocks.
The developer bought each house separately from several owners, but all of the sales closed on the same day, according to records.
A chain-link fence now is up around the entire block.
The Ashland and Alvarado historic neighborhoods are near the houses to be torn down, but the homes bought by Crescent aren’t part of a historic neighborhood.
“It was quite an assemblage (to sell all the houses at once),” said historic-home advocate and downtown Phoenix HomeSmart real-estate agent Sherry Rampy. “None of the houses were designated historic, but several were old and of interesting architecture.”
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All of the houses slated to be torn down appear to be empty now. Some were rentals and rundown, but a few had been renovated.
Infill land expert Michael Lieb assembled the 24 parcels of land on the block for sale and worked with property owners to amend deed restrictions for redevelopment.
Scott Makee of Crescent said construction of the apartment complex called Midtown will start late this year.
He also said the developer is making the houses available to the Phoenix fire and police departments for training before they are demolished.
Phoenix approved a rezoning request for the land from single family to multifamily last June. Several of the homeowners on the block supported the zoning change.
Real-estate investor Tom Carmody sold almost half of the properties on the block. He didn't respond to inquiries about the project.
Several new apartment complexes are planned, under construction or were recently built in downtown and midtown Phoenix.
Just south of the Crescent project at Thomas Road and Third Street are a couple of large new apartment complexes.
“Interesting neighborhoods include a mixture of building types, and we must do everything we can to protect the few pockets of historic homes and buildings we have,” said Stacey Champion, a Phoenix historic-building advocate and public-relations consultant. “Though I agree we need density in our urban core, the onslaught of large, stick-frame, stucco boxes with overpriced rent is out of control.”
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Housing-market analysts are watching all of the new apartment development in central Phoenix carefully because of concerns about overbuilding.
“A tectonic demographic shift is pushing us further and further into a more renter-centric society,” said Thomas Brophy, research director at Phoenix-based ABI Multifamily.
He isn't concerned about overbuilding so far because the area's new apartments are steadily being leased and the vacancy rate hasn't jumped.
Also, Brophy said, the number of renter households in metro Phoenix has climbed by 21 percent since 2000, almost triple the national increase.
About 17,900 apartments are under construction in the Valley now. More than a third of those are going up in Phoenix.