By Ken Sain
The last major piece of land in Chandler available for a large single-family residential subdivision is a historic property.
And that ain’t no bull.
“This is the last of the 40 acres – everything else is like peanuts,” said David de la Torre, the city’s planning manager. “Everything else is just smaller infill stuff. So this is kind of the end of an era for Chandler.”
The property he is talking about is the former ranch of the late car dealer Tex Earnhardt on the northeast corner of McQueen and Hunt Highway. The city is currently reviewing an application to turn the property into a 100-home subdivision called Earnhardt Ranch.
As one of the first steps in that process, the City Council held a public hearing on June 23 to consider annexing the county land into the city.
Lauren Schumann, the city’s senior planner, said builder Blandford Homes wants to incorporate some of the history into the project.
Naming it Earnhardt Ranch is just one step. She said they are also considering some kind of marker for the green space they hope to build in the middle of the subdivision: Something along the lines of a statue of a bull, for example.
Two longhorns still live at the ranch. Earnhardt opened his first dealership in the early 1950s and often rode his longhorns while filming TV commercials and saying his well-known catchphrase.
Tex Earnhardt died on April 19, 2020. He was 89.
“So the subject site does fall within our southeast Chandler area plan,” Schumann said. “This plan was established to promote the historic, rural agrarian lifestyle of South Chandler. So in order to align with those goals, they’re coming in at, I believe we have 2.68 units per acre.”
According to what he said he’s seen of the plans, de la Torre said it is clear that the developer will be building high-end homes on the site. City officials have said there is a lack of all types of housing, including luxury homes for those who can afford it.
City officials say that when people who can afford very expensive homes can’t find them, they buy less expensive ones and the process continues all the way down to the least expensive, making it harder for new families and young people to get into the housing market.
So, city officials argue, part of addressing the city’s affordable housing shortage is to build homes for all income levels.
Many of the projects the planning department has been dealing with lately are for multifamily housing. That reflects the reality that there are not a lot of large spaces left for single-family homes.
But, de la Torre said there is room for smaller subdivisions and single-family homes will continue to be built.
“We do have other lots that both Lauren and I have worked on that are smaller infill properties, but they do build single-family homes on,” de la Torre said. “It’s maybe not the same type of caliber as this, but it’s a smaller infill single-family detached subdivision. So that is still possible.
But this is the last of the big ones.”
Earnhardt Ranch would have only single-level homes on its eastern border to give their neighbors on the other side of the fence some privacy. The entrance would be off McQueen Road and a park area would be built in the middle of the property for recreation opportunities for residents.
These are very early plans that the city planning staff is currently reviewing. Staff can, and usually does, suggest changes. Then, there is usually a neighborhood meeting and more changes could be suggested and adopted.
Then it goes before the Planning and Zoning Commission for its recommendation, and then City Council for approval. Both bodies can ask for additional changes.
Another builder is eyeing a large undeveloped lot at the southwest corner of Arizona Avenue and Pecos Road, across the street from the Walmart shopping center.
Schumann said the city just received an application for that property. But staff hasn’t looked in depth at it yet. Originally, it was zoned for a large development, say a hotel and retail. The application wants to rezone it for multifamily housing, offices and some retail.
By Ken Sain