One of the last large swaths of land within city limits has been purchased by developers who are developing a master-planned community on the southeast side of Tucson.

La Estancia, a 540-acre site with 664 lots near Wilmot Road, north of Interstate 10, was bought by Sunbelt Holdings of Scottsdale for $17 million.

“What appealed to us most was location,” said Sean Walters, Sunbelt’s chief operating officer. This project is the developers’ first venture into the Tucson market.

Plans for the site include single and multifamily homes with a mix of town homes and duplex models, Walters said.

Developers are negotiating with homebuilders now to determine lot sizes and pricing, but expect to build 2,500 homes and hope to be open by next year.

The community will also feature a 2.5-acre park, community swimming pool and event lawn.

“It’s more than just a subdivision, it’s a community,” Walters said. “We try to create relationships between the homeowners.”

Long term, developers want to bring retail and light industrial or distribution facilities onto the project, which sits just west of the Port of Tucson.

“This project had been on hold for a number of years and it was refreshing to work with the city to get this up,” said Bob Bambauer, who oversees Sunbelt’s Tucson projects.

Demand for housing along the I-10 corridor is strong because of the convenience for workers from Raytheon Missile Systems, University of Arizona Tech Park, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson International Airport and the prisons, said land broker Will White, of Land Advisors Organization.

With the majority of housing construction happening in unincorporated areas of the county, White said it’s good to see developers investing within city limits.

“This is it, for something this big in the city,” he said of La Estancia. “There’s very limited inventory with demand increasing from homebuilders. The current available lots could be spoken for in the next six months.”

White said the southeast corridor stretching to Vail has been active because of retail draws such as Costco at the Bridges, the new Walmart at Houghton and Mary Ann Cleveland, and the widening project along Houghton Road.

The last in-city developments in that area include Richmond American’s 89 lots at Sycamore Point, near Kolb Road and I-10; and KB Homes Rancho Valencia’s last phase with 58 lots near the interstate and Valencia Road.

KB Homes has built more than 500 homes in the past 10 years in Rancho Valencia.

“It’s been a strong community from the beginning,” said Amy McReynolds, senior vice president for KB Homes Tucson. “We’re definitely seeing a loyalty to that area.”

Homes in Rancho Valencia range in price from the mid-$140,000s up to $190,000 and feature up to six-bedroom models.

McReynolds said it is too early to know if KB Homes will get involved with the La Estancia project, but she added that it’s good to see the land being developed.

“It’s really positive for Tucson.”

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at or 573-4232.