Jeweler Joel Starkman is the first resident at Coronado Commons, a complex of 20 townhouse-style homes under construction in central Phoenix.
About a mile away, the Portland on the Park condo project downtown has sold more than half of 149 units well before its opening, expected by the end of the year.
Urban dwellers have bought more than two dozen of the nearby en Hance Park condominiums, with roughly four months of construction left on the 49 units.
A booming market for new for-sale real estate is likely on the horizon for Phoenix’s urban core — the numbers just don’t show it yet.
Home sales were down slightly in 2015 in the city’s 85004 ZIP code, according to Street Scout Home Values, an annual analysis of metro Phoenix’s housing market done with the Information Market. The area includes a large swath of downtown Phoenix north to Thomas Road.
Starkman said he committed to Coronado Commons nearly a year before he moved in, based on the diversity and walkability of the area near Third Street and Coronado Road, and the design of the project. He has lived there about a month and is waiting for new neighbors to join him.
Just one new property was sold in the ZIP code last year. But the outlook is changing for 2016, with residents ready to move into condos, townhomes and other urban for-sale projects as soon as they're ready.
“I know that now is the time to be downtown,” Starkman said.
Units in the 85004 ZIP code on the market this year are overall slightly smaller, slightly more expensive and newer than those sold last year, said Mark Stapp, director of the Masters of Real Estate Development program at Arizona State University.
New projects are dominating the marketplace, Stapp said.
“That is an indication of the emerging residential market in the downtown area,” he said.
The forecast is telling for a city that has largely seen growth in suburbs. That growth is still there, but now urban infill is part of the equation, Stapp said.
Those for-sale projects can be difficult, Stapp said. Condo development can be more risky and difficult to finance than apartments, for example.
A few major projects made it to market before the Great Recession, but others were halted.
“We see it coming back, and that’s a good thing,” Stapp said.
Buyers also are coming back, according to some project leaders.
Some future Portland on the Park condo residents took the downturn as a chance to try living downtown without buying a property, said David Newcombe, co-founder of Launch Real Estate and a broker for the project.
Now, they’re ready to commit, he said. Units range from about $235,000 to $1.25 million, and the project has already sold more than half of its 11 penthouses, Newcombe said.
The project near Margaret T. Hance Park is drawing residents from a wide age range who have a “Millennial mindset,” Newcombe said. They want convenience and an urban, lock-and-leave lifestyle, he said.
“The best real estate is always where the city and the park meet,” Newcombe said.
85040: Home values also are up in south Phoenix, in the ZIP code a few miles north of South Mountain. The overall median for the first quarter of this year is up more than 35 percent over the first quarter of last year. The overall median is now $120,500.
85014: The overall median price for sales in the ZIP code is up 50 percent in the first quarter of 2016 from the first quarter of 2015, from $190,000 to $285,000. The area includes the midtown and uptown area between Seventh and Sixteenth streets, a hot spot for new restaurants. It also includes the Cheery Lynn historic neighborhood.