El Dorado Benson LLC – Villages at Vigneto
El Dorado Benson LLC is developing the age-targeted Villages at Vigneto in Benson, Ariz., for adults who want to maintain an active and social lifestyle.
By Russ Gager
People pay financial planners to provide them with the resources they will need after they stop working full-time. But what will they be doing with this spare time and where will they be doing it? The answer to that question is the world class Villages at Vigneto – a Tuscan-themed, age-targeted community being developed in Benson, Ariz., by El Dorado Benson LLC.
“If you can imagine it, think of the community more like a cruise ship,” Development Partner Mike Reinbold says. “We are not simply building new homes. We are providing the residents with a lifestyle, one that encourages you to get out and be social.” The Villages at Vigneto will have recreation centers, golf courses and other amenities one would expect for a development of this size. But Vigneto goes further, and will give residents the opportunity to participate in any one of the numerous activity or interest clubs it will offer. El Dorado is patterning Vigneto after The Villages in Ocala, Fla., a community that has approximately 2,100 clubs for an almost endless number of interests. “You can literally pick a topic, and there will be a club for you to join,” Reinbold says.
The development will take advantage of Benson’s favorable location and climate, which is situated in Cochise County. The Washington Post placed Cochise County in the top 1 percent of counties in the United States for natural beauty, climate and amenities. “We sit in the San Pedro River Valley,” Reinbold says. “Mountains surround the region, and looking east, there are clear blue skies and panoramic views of rolling hills all the way to the river. It’s absolutely gorgeous.”
The development property gently slopes at a 3 percent grade from 4,500 feet above sea level to 3,500 feet. “It’s very attractive for year-round living because you are shielded from extreme heat in the summer and can take advantage of the mild winters,” Reinbold explains. Due to the elevation, when Phoenix is sweltering at 110 F, Vigneto’s residents will be relaxing in the low 90s.
El Dorado chose the theme because of the region’s resemblance to Tuscany, a scenic region in Italy known for its agricultural character and wineries. “The hills on our property, particularly in the fall, are covered with golden grass one to two feet tall,” Reinbold says. “Because of the elevation, we don’t have the desert with a lot of saguaro cacti, which is the stereotypical Arizona image. Our property is covered in trees and grasslands.”
Reinbold says he has visited close to 90 countries, and Italy is one of his favorites. “The first day I was on our property and started exploring, there was no question in my mind that this property fits really well with the old-world elements of Tuscan architecture.”
As with any European region, Tuscany has been influenced by many different cultures. “If you look at Tuscany or that region of Italy, the architecture comes from all over the Mediterranean,” Reinbold points out. “So it has Roman, Greek, Spanish and French influences. It’s a number of things that kind of came together to make the Tuscan region so special.”
One aspect of Tuscan life that the Villages at Vigneto plans to emulate is the village center. “The heart of the community is the village center,” Reinbold says. The Villages at Vigneto will be geared around a social core with shops and restaurants that will cater to a walking retail experience and provide nightly entertainment. “It’s not like driving to your typical market drugstore,” Reinbold continues. “The village center will give you a sense of a Tuscan town with a living pulse. It’s where people will gather on a daily basis to shop, eat and play.”
The entire development will be linked by an intricate trail network. The network will be accessible to pedestrians, bicyclers and low-speed vehicles or golf carts, so residents can go anywhere in the community without getting in their cars. El Dorado estimates that approximately 2,500 of the development’s 12,500 acres will be open space. “Because the property slopes gently down the base of a mountain, there are spectacular views from anywhere on the property,” Reinbold says. “We want to maintain these views and natural beauty, which is why we are dedicating so much acreage to open space.”
The first phase of home construction will include approximately 1,500 homes, a village center, recreational facilities and a golf course with a clubhouse. The Villages at Vigneto will have single-family homes varying in size from 1,000 up to 4,500 square feet with an average price of approximately $250,000. Construction is expected to begin late this year or in early 2017.
Additional construction phases will include approximately 2,000 homes annually, for a total of 28,000 over the next 20 years. Approximately 85 percent of the homes in the Villages at Vigneto will be developed for an age-targeted lifestyle, while the remaining 15 percent will be traditional family housing. El Dorado also anticipates construction of a world-class resort, a 50-bed hospital and wellness center, and 4 million square feet of commercial/retail space.
The development will use the latest water conservation methods and feature energy-efficient operation. “The irrigation and water features will use recycled water,” Reinbold says. “We’re using best management practices in terms of water, irrigation and desert-approved landscaping.” Benson’s onsite wastewater treatment plant will produce effluent as clean as well water.
The Villages at Vigneto is estimated to have a $24 billion impact on the region during construction and forecast to create 16,356 jobs during the build-out period, 8,780 permanent jobs and generate $1 billion annually, according to Dr. Robert Carreira of U.S. Economic Research.com “The local and regional support has been very positive and very strong,” Reinbold says. “The Villages at Vigneto will have a major economic impact not only on Cochise County, but also Pima County, where Tucson is located.”