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Continental Ranch’s rocky past led to stable future | Opinion

Continental Ranch was Marana’s first planned community and provided the blueprint for what the town would become.

The town is promoting large-scale residential developments such as Gladden Farms and Rancho Marana, all based in part on Continental Ranch.

This development began with large tracts of land acquired by the Dow Chemical Company along the Santa Cruz River. The land passed through the hands of various speculators until Lou McGinnis acquired it. After McGinniss was convicted of theft in an unrelated transaction, the Marana Continental Ranch area passed into the hands of Charles Keating Jr., best known for the 1980s Savings and Loan scandal.

In 1987, when Marana was only 10 years old, Keating convinced the Marana City Council to annex the 2,100-acre Continental Ranch.

Pima County created and approved a master development plan that was deemed sound by government officials and residents.

In 1989, Keating’s American Continental Company, along with his Lincoln Savings and Loan, went bankrupt. Keating was charged with multiple crimes and ultimately spent more than four years in prison. Many investors suffered large losses.

Resolution Trust, a company supervised by the federal government, oversaw the liquidation of Keating’s holdings.

The land lay dormant for several years until Southwest Value Partners purchased it in 1992 for $1. Southwest Value Partners distributed “superblocks” to home builders who began building residential lots.

Omaha-based Southwest Value Partners still owns prime land in Marana. It is run by Millard Seldin and former Arizona National Bank president and Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver.

In 2002, Continental Ranch was turned over to homeowners and flourished. Extensive participation by community members has greatly helped Continental Ranch maintain its beauty through continued capital improvements.

Currently Marana’s largest subdivision, Continental Ranch is also one of the largest communities in southern Arizona, with 4,000 homes in its HOA.

Marana has grown steadily over the years, encouraging residential development. Continental Ranch fills its borders, and the real estate within it has risen dramatically in value, with prices ranging from $300,000 to $800,000.

Continental Ranch is the “Heart of Marana”. Many amenities are located in or near Continental Ranch, including shopping, parks, pools, quality schools, and employment opportunities.

Gregory Richman is an associate broker with HomeSmart Advantage Group. He can be reached at 520-248-1239 or grrichman@richmantucsonhomes.com. His website is tucsonarizrealestate.com, richmantucsonhomes.com and maranahomesaz.com

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