Three years ago Lennar was within a few months of sending out the bulldozers to carve roads and home sites in the desert west of Phoenix when it decided to walk away from Elianto, a 2,389-acre chunk of land it had worked to entitle to build 3,900 homes. Then, the recession in full swing, Lennar sent the land back to Bank Midwest of Kansas City, Mo., which had financed the deal.

By that time, Lennar had invested $16 million to gain development approvals, the Phoenix Business Journal reported. This week, Landvest North America, “a group of seasoned, very high net worth private investors,” bought the land for about $7.4 million, roughly $3,100 an acre, CoStar said.

“This is not their first rodeo,” Chaz Smith, of Colliers International, which represented the bank in the sale, said of the buyers. The investment is Landvest’s first in the Phoenix market in recent years.

While the Phoenix market is improving, don’t expect Landvest to send in the bulldozers anytime soon. It plans to hold the land, rather than develop it, and sell it within five to seven years, Colliers said.

Landvest Principal Bob Humel told the Phoenix Business Journal that he personally thinks the market will be ready for the turn-key development earlier rather than later in that time frame.

He told the Journal that Landvest has been looking to invest in Phoenix for a while, and he thinks the Elianto location, in Sun Valley at Sun Valley Parkway and Thomas Road, has “all the right ingredients.”

“You’ve got great infrastructure,” Humel said. “You’ve got a multifaceted economy that would better support a recovery.”

 Teresa Burney is a senior editor for Builder magazine.

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