By Cecilia Chan
GSN Managing Editor
The last remaining farmland in Gilbert zoned for single-family homes has sold at Morrison Ranch, the 2,000-acre master-planned community in the southeast part of town.
Four homebuilders – Maracay Homes, Toll Bros Homes, Fulton Homes and Taylor Morrison Homes – each bought portions of the remaining 119 acres to build 330 homes.
“They will do all the improvements in the next 12 to 15 months – streets, utilities and roads – and then they will build models and begin building spec homes and selling to the public,” said Howard Morrison, a partner at Morrison Ranch.
“Certainly, there would not be anyone occupying any homes in next year and a half; possibly longer, depending on the market,” he said.
The upcoming homes will add to the approximately 2,700 that currently exist in Morrison Ranch, according to Morrison.
The new homes will continue the community’s architectural styles of Ranch, Prairie, Craftsman, and Farmhouse in the 10th and final neighborhood.
Improvements for the new neighborhood include extending Cole and Highland Glen roads south to Warner Road and extending Bloomfield Parkway east from Higley Road, according to a company news release.
Additionally, the improvement of the midsection line trail will complete the 2-mile-long feature through the heart of Morrison Ranch.
Escrow on the 119 acres closed in late June. Morrison Ranch now has left 34 acres zoned for commercial, 53 acres for industrial and two 14-acre parcels zoned for multi-family development, according to Morrison.
Besides amenities and homes, the large-scale residential community currently has on site the two-story, 228-unit Highland Groves at Morrison Ranch Apartments, two neighborhood shopping centers and San Tan Charter School.
As Morrison Ranch, which once grew cotton, corn and alfalfa, reaches build-out, it has managed to hold onto its rural roots by way of tree-lined streets, wide, grass-covered setbacks, two-rail white fences and front porches on most of the homes.
According to the Morrison Ranch website, over 11,600 trees have been planted in the residential neighborhoods, with an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 more trees to be planted before the community is fully developed.
Lakes filled with reclaimed water in the community allow the use of grass and shade trees in all open spaces, including rights-of-way.
Gilbert originally adopted the Morrison Ranch development plan in 1988, and the first home was built in 2004.
The family’s vision was to create a community that reminded people of Gilbert’s agricultural heritage.
The Morrison Family had been farming on the land for more than 80 years since Howard and Leatha Morrison arrived to Gilbert from Oklahoma in the early 1920s, according to the Morrison Ranch website.
The couple’s two sons, Marvin and Kenneth, went on to transform the family’s small landholdings into the East Valley’s biggest farming operations.
Marvin married June Neely, from another prominent farming family, and had three sons, including Howard and Scott, who are partners at Morrison Ranch
The family slowly planned each neighborhood with the overall concept in mind, selling relatively large parcels to multiple homebuilders.
Four signature grain silos sit at the core of Morrison Ranch, a reminder of when the land once housed one of the world’s largest dairy operations.
The ranch also was one of Arizona’s largest ranching businesses, grazing cattle on over 400 square miles of state and leased land stretching from Flagstaff to the Verde River.