ONE OF THE CHALLENGES OF A LARGE-SCALE master plan with a 15-year build-out is effectively articulating the project's vision to prospective residents. But instead of using renderings and scale models to entice visitors and offering little more than a skeletal infrastructure between the master plan's individual communities, the developers of Vistancia, a 7,100-acre, 17,000-unit community near Phoenix, decided to build out a trio of primary amenity buildings and create a consolidated, 33-unit model-home complex to make the buying experience more authentic and convenient.

“The more you can show, the easier it is [for prospects] to make a buying decision,” says Curt Smith, COO of co-developer Sunbelt Holdings. “This [approach] gave us the opportunity to show a finished environment from day one and lends credibility that other communities can't match.” The centerpiece is the Discovery Center, a 3,500-square-foot pavilion serving as the mecca of community information. Supplementing a staff of five, the center's freestanding displays extol various built and planned amenities and put the project in context before visitors exit to the adjacent model complex.

CENTER OF ATTENTION: The Discovery Center sells the master plan, allowing builders to focus on home sales.
CENTER OF ATTENTION: The Discovery Center sells the master plan, allowing builders to focus on home sales.

Eleven months after opening, the Discovery Center has logged more than 120,000 visitors, translating to more than 700 sales of the 945 available lots in Vistancia's first phase. Eventually, the building will house the offices and activities of the HOA. Meanwhile, the model-home complex, entitled Tapestry to reflect the diversity of lot and house sizes (and price points) in all 11 Vistancia communities, will eventually become its own gated neighborhood.

CAMPAIGN DETAILS Program: Information center; Developer: Vistancia LLC, Peoria, Ariz. (Sunbelt Holdings, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Shea Homes, Walnut, Calif.); Cost: $840,000 (construction), $150,000 (furnishings and displays); Architect: H&S International, Scottsdale; Interior designers: Janet Brooks Design, Scottsdale, and R Group Communications, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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