Windgate Ranch Offers New Price Reductions

by Merrill Moss on November 10, 2010

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Windgate Ranch Offers New Price Reductions

Toll Brothers’ master planned community, Windgate Ranch, sits in Scottsdale on the west side of the McDowell Mountains, interposed between the existing master planned developments of DC Ranch and McDowell Mountain Ranch. New homes are still being sold there.

Because of its prime north Scottsdale location, extensive community amenities, and the fact that Toll Brothers is virtually synonymous with quality, even in this challenging market homes in Windgate Ranch generally command a premium price per square foot.

Once in a while, though, Toll Brothers marks down a couple of homes in Windgate Ranch to nudge buyers. Such is the case with these two new, so-called “quick delivery,” homes, one priced at $246 per square foot and the other at $253 per square foot. That may initially not seem like a major screaming deal, but when you see what is included vis-à-vis other new home offerings, it it hard not to at least perk up, especially when you consider that there may still be a little wiggle room in the asking price.

These two homes illustrate the point:

Toll Brothers says they are offering these recently reduced prices on these two homes only during the month of November. I imagine they’d be willing to sell to a willing buyer even after the deadline, though.

Windgate Ranch is located at the northwest corner of Bell Rd and Thompson Peak Parkway.

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The Latest in Kitchens

by Merrill Moss on November 8, 2010

The Latest in Kitchens

With a bit of tongue in cheek, here is a spectacularly creative innovation in space planning for modern kitchens.

I don’t know if this is real, but it is SO Scottsdale, and I’ll bet I’m not the only one who would want one.

Wine cellar purveyors, take note: Your new design concept for 2011 is hereby commissioned.

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Progress Report on Scottsdale’s Salt River Fields

by Merrill Moss on November 5, 2010

Progress Report on Scottsdale’s Salt River Fields

Come next spring, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick (hugging the west side of Loop 101 between Indian Bend and Via de Ventura) will open as major league baseball’s newest and reportedly most excellent spring training facility. It will be the pre-season home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies.

Construction is moving quickly. Here is an update.

The main stadium will have 7,000 seats with room for 4,000 more spectators on a nearby grassy berm.  The facility will also have a dozen practice fields in addition to offices and clubhouses to accommodate the two participating teams.

The Diamondbacks have always trained in Tucson, and the move to Scottsdale has city fathers and residents alike salivating at the economic boost of having the home team train at right here at home.

The Diamondbacks and Rockies are expected to resist the temptation to charge “Scottsdale” premium prices for attending games. Plans are to offer the bulk of seats at much more moderate, affordable prices, expected to range from $8 to $15.

The facility will offer plentiful shaded lawn seating, striking mountain views, and trails and paths from parking areas where fans can interact with players for autographs and pictures.

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Two Super Premium Movie Theaters Coming to Scottsdale

by Merrill Moss on November 3, 2010

Two Super Premium Movie Theaters Coming to Scottsdale

Ever want more of a first class experience when you attend a movie?

By the end of 2010, two new theaters in Scottsdale will offer movie-goers a premium feature package including reserved online seating, wider, more comfortable seats with armrests and/or footrests, all-digital projection, the availability of wines and a wider choice of food.

However, similar to traveling in first class, it’ll cost two to three times more.

UltraStar Cinemas will offer its upscale movie experience at a newly renovated theater in the Scottsdale Pavilions, while Ipic Entertainment will launch its version of luxury movie-going in new space at the Scottsdale Quarter.

UltraStar’s five screens will offer a call button for food and beverage service, including beer and wine (expect to tip!). For an additional $8, you can reserve a special seat providing a motion effect connected to the action you are seeing in the movie.

Ipic Entertainment will have eight screens in auditoriums accommodating 80 or so patrons in leather recliners with footrests. Its customers can order a variety of adult beverages as well as with salads, sandwiches and gourmet pizzas served in their seats.

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Think You Know What the Market Will Do Next Year?

by Merrill Moss on October 27, 2010

Think You Know What the Market Will Do Next Year?

I have a listing that is priced to reflect its location, features, condition and demand. A prospect recently looked at it several times, showed it to friends and family, and even measured to be sure it would accommodate a certain large piece of furniture. Passing all of these tests, an offer was submitted.

Unfortunately, the offer was 11% below the asking price. The seller felt insulted, adamantly refused to respond to it, and rendered it DOA—dead on arrival.

Fine. It’s the seller’s prerogative to do so in response to any offer. But the interesting part was the rationale that the buyer’s Realtor® (and presumably the buyer as well) used to justify the low starting point which so affronted the seller.

Of course, the buyer’s Realtor® furnished selective comps (comparable properties recently sold) to defend the initial price. But his remarks in explaining the buyer’s position included the following: “The buyer does not want to over-pay. We are in a declining market—you do know that don’t you?”

This was apparently intended to remind me of what everyone knows—that the market will be lower next year. Hence, it follows that if we did not accept their “market” offer, we would inevitably have to accept less.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion as to where the market will go. But when I heard this conclusion stated so dogmatically, I couldn’t resist countering. Here is the best I can remember as to how to conversation ensued. I began:

“First of all, where the market is going next year is unknowable. Can you predict when the stock market will go up or down?”

“No, but [the real estate market] has been going down for three years!”

“True, but past performance does not necessarily predict future performance. If it did, the slow, steady upward market would never have surged upward, nor turned so dramatically down.”

At that point a noticeable gap of silence paused the conversation. I think the Realtor® realized that there simply is no logic to the idea that the market will not change from its present course—just the timing of it is subject to debate. We ended by more-or-less agreeing that anyone can speculate on the near-term future of the market, based on endlessly conflicting data and projections, but one person’s opinion or conclusion is just that and no more.

That felt so good. And it is a good thing for all participants in the real estate industry to remember.

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Update on Crave

by Merrill Moss on October 23, 2010

Update on Crave

Crave, Scottsdale’s excellent food and wine event which was supposed to take place this weekend (see this related post), has been postponed until the weekend of January 28-30.

Nevertheless, Crave will host what they hope will be an enticing “hors d’oeuvre” of the event today, Saturday, October 23, at the Calvin Charles Gallery in Scottsdale’s Old Town. Admission is $25 at the door, which will give guests access to food, beverages and live entertainment from jazz performer Dennis Rowland and chef/comedian Mark deCarlo. Tickets for the future Crave event will be on sale at a discounted price.

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Two $5 Million+ Houses Sold in Scottsdale in 2010

by Merrill Moss on October 22, 2010

Two $5 Million+ Houses Sold in Scottsdale in 2010

We’ll take a peek at them in a minute.

But first, in case you are wondering, real money—and shelling out $5,000,000+ for a house takes real money—is still out there. So selling two such houses in a year is not shabby. But last year, seven houses sold in Scottsdale for $5+ million.

Is this year’s relatively paltry performance of just two $5 million+ houses sold a reflection of the recessionary economy? Probably. The year is not quite over though, and more mega-home sales could still be posted. Even so, I wouldn’t draw any strong conclusions from this simple comparison. The market for $5 million+ homes is so thin that small changes from one year to the next are magnified disproportionately.

Both the $5 million+ homes that sold in Scottsdale this year were in the upper canyon of Silverleaf, the ultra-premium subdivision of DC Ranch in north Scottsdale. One sold for cash, the other was financed by the seller, according to public tax records.

The “cheapie” of the two sold for $5,200,000 after a little more than two years on the market and following incremental price reductions totaling 18%! The buyer took another 5% off and walked away with the house after wiring $5.2 million in cash just nineteen days after price agreement was reached.

The home has more than 8,000 square feet of living space, 6 bedrooms and 7 baths, a guest casita and multiple courtyards. Take a look at the buyer’s new digs:

The other home sold for a cool seven-and-a-half million dollars after just shy of six months on the market. The seller started at $8,750,000 so the final price represented a hefty 14% total price reduction. What’s more, the seller acted as the bank, financing the buyer for the balance after a $1 million down payment. That’s a jumbo loan!

The house is huge, over 12,000 square feet, with 6 bedrooms and 8 baths, a detached guest home and an 8-car garage. Take a look to see if you think the price was worth it.

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Sassi—One of Scottsdale’s Truly Superior Italian Restaurants

If you haven’t patronized Sassi yet (pronounced SOSS-EE), you really should, because it’s one of Scottsdale’s most serious Italian restaurants. And during Restaurant Week, September 18-26, Sassi is making itself irresistible with a special three-course menu for $29.

Sassi closely follows the traditional ingredients and cooking methods of Southern Italy, emphasizing fresh local ingredients, handmade pasta,  fish, shellfish, pork, tomatoes, vegetables, citrus and of course, olive oil.

Here is Sassi’s special three-course Restaurant Week menu for $29. If you can resist this you are more disciplined than I.

First Course Choices:
Arugula and spinach salad, with walnuts, pears, lemon oil, olive oil and parmigiano
Butternut squash soup with toasted hazelnuts, pancetta and olive oil
Pork terrine with pickled vegetables, grilled bread, Vin Santo gelée

Second Course Choices:
Grilled Niman Ranch (natural) pork chop, with braised yellow beans and parmigiano
Oven-roasted lemon sole with spinach, almonds, raisins and brown butter
Chicken cacciatore with white corn polenta (pictured at right)

Third Course Choices:
Chocolate and hazelnut galentina
Lavender panna cotta with bee pollen, orange blossom honey and toasted almonds
Vanilla gelato affogato, “drowned” in espresso

Sassi, located at 10455 E Pinnacle Peak Parkway in Scottsdale, welcomes guests to a grand Tuscan villa in North Scottsdale at the base of Pinnacle Peak, with spectacular views of the McDowell Mountains and city lights.

For more information visit Sassi online or call 480-502-9095. This restaurant is one of the reasons we love to live in Scottsdale.

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Major Scottsdale Food Event, CRAVE Arizona 2010

by Merrill Moss on September 14, 2010

Major Scottsdale Food Event, CRAVE Arizona 2010, Comes to Scottsdale October 22-24

If October rolls around and you’re wondering what to do, a great event called CRAVE Arizona returns to Scottsdale over the weekend of October 22-24 at the Scottsdale Waterfront. It’s an opportunity to super-stimulate your taste buds in a relaxed outdoor affair offering an array of culinary temptations and a great assortment of wine. In a single weekend there will be exciting wine dinners, wine tastings, wine pairings, and food, glorious food that you will not find on restaurant menus.

This three-day culinary happening benefits two charities, Waste Not, a perishable food rescue program that collects restaurant food which would otherwise be thrown away by delivering it to schools, after school programs, senior programs, transition homes, day care centers and assisted living facilities, and the Arizona Institute for Breast Health.

Here’s the current schedule of events, which seems to have something for almost everybody:

Battle of the Sexes, Friday, October 22, 6:00 p.m., The Chef’s Loft on SouthBridge. As wine experts participate in a blind wine tasting challenge, guests will sip the same wines in two teams—men versus women—to see whose palate is the most sensitive.

National Top Bar Chef Mix-Off, Friday, October 22, 9:00 p.m., The Chef’s Loft on SouthBridge. National award-winning cocktail creators will do their thing, vying for the National Top Bar Chef title. Guests get to sample drinks from the competitors, enjoy scrumptious delicacies, and see and be seen in the cool lounge atmosphere.

Decanted – VIP Reserve Wine Tasting, Saturday, October 23, 7:30 p.m., on SouthBridge at the Scottsdale Waterfront. A wine lover’s reverie under the stars, guests will mingle as they enjoy sampling a exciting collection of first rate wines accompanied by over-the-top nibbles and divine desserts. Jazz singer Dennis Rowland will perform.

Grand Tasting, Sunday, October 24, 12:00 p.m – 5:00 p.m., on SouthBridge at the Scottsdale Waterfront. Guests can stroll through the Scottsdale Waterfront sampling offerings from 40+ top Valley restaurants and 200+ wines. Wine education seminars will sharpen guests’ wine skills and provide useful pointers on successful wine pairing. A full kitchen will be on site outdoors to demonstrate celebrity chefs’ cooking talent and impart their secrets.

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First of Two Exciting Scottsdale “Foodie” Events Coming Soon

Order your tickets and un-stick your wickets, folks. The first of two mouthwatering Scottsdale “foodie” events will occur this fall, delivering a striking one-two punch of local flavor to the city’s culinary scene.

On September 30, an outfit called Savor Scottsdale (a group of restaurants that promote Scottsdale’s culinary reputation), in partnership with Arcadia Fine Wine, will present “Iron Chef 2: The Duel!” pitting inventive, elegant Chef Mel Mecinas (of Talavera at the Scottsdale Four Seasons Resort) against creative upstart Chef Payton Curry (formerly of Digestif, now at the Italian bistro Cafe Boa).

Held at the Wolf Sub-Zero showroom (15570 N 83rd Way), beginning with a cocktail reception at 6 PM, the winner of this food fight will be judged by polling guests at the end of the event. The secret ingredient? Not yet announced.

Tickets are $65, available by calling 480-970-0646 or emailing

Just consider that event an hors d’oeuvre, though, because over the weekend of October 22-24, an outdoor fine food and wine extravaganza called “CRAVE Arizona” will take place on the Scottsdale Waterfront. More on that later.

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