Parent company TOUSA may be in bankruptcy, but that unfortunate fact is not damping the energy of Jim Bucklin, sales manager at Engle Homes' Province at Estrella, a new active adult community in Goodyear, Ariz., set to open in March. He thinks the community is one-of-a-kind in the market, with amenities and technology that put it well ahead of the competition.

William Gloede When interviewed for this column, Bucklin was not overly concerned with the TOUSA bankruptcy filing, which had just occurred. That's because Province at Estrella is a joint venture with developer Sunbelt Holdings that remains separated from TOUSA. Still, all buyer monies will be held in escrow by a third-party title company, and the home warrantees will be insured by Zurich North America.

Province is located about 15 miles west of Phoenix, surrounded by the Sierra Estrella mountain range. A third of the community is being held as open space, and a lake system has been created. The Village Center features common amenities such as indoor and outdoor swimming pools and spas. Says Bucklin, "[The lakes] have already taken on some wildlife. This is something that does not exist anywhere else in Arizona."

The community is planned for 1,780 homes, with a build-out timeframe of five to seven years. The homes are grouped into four design series: three single-family detached and one single-story villa duplex, which will be the only attached product for active adults in the market, according to Bucklin. There are 14 plans and models ranging from the 1,189-square-foot villa to 2,852-square-foot homes that can be made even larger with the conversion of a third garage into a casita. Most of the homes are designed around their own courtyards, some large enough for pools or other outdoor amenities.

The two largest home design series feature a standard package including granite countertops, stainless-steel appliances, and higher-end flooring. All are built to Energy Star standards. "Many of the things that builders are cheaping-out on in this market, we left in," says Bucklin.

Engle also added a lot of options for customization, as the active adult segment has money and a willingness to spend. "If you keep nickel and diming them, we think it has a negative impact on their buying psychology," explains Bucklin.

WELL WIRED: Engle Homes' Province at Estrella community features plug-and-play structured wiring to appeal to today's technologically savvy baby boomers. Photos: Coutesy Engle Homes and Honeywell It is the technological features, however, that really set the homes at Province apart. Engle has equipped every home with the necessary backbone for everything a buyer could ask for: a structured wiring package that can handle anything from HVAC and lighting to A/V and security. The structured wiring panel is enclosed in a 42-inch box, big enough to accommodate a modem and router.

The wiring can be combined with automated HVAC and security systems from Honey-well, AuroRa and RadioRa lighting systems from Lutron, and an Internet Control Module system from In2Home that allows homeowners to control the mechanical and lighting systems and monitor security cameras remotely via the Web. A fairly robust system including all the above would cost around $5,000. It is all "plug-and-play," meaning other systems and options can be added in the future and simply plugged into the backbone.

Of course, the homeowner can add all manner of home entertainment systems, but Engle is leaving much of that to its low-voltage contractor, Dennis Sage Home Entertainment of Phoenix. "We have focused on the infrastructure within the home," says Bucklin. "We let the low-voltage guy offer a menu that will be able to keep up with technology."

The homes at Province will be priced from the low $200,000 range for the villas and $400,000 to $500,000 for the largest models.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Phoenix, AZ.