A former dude ranch in Marana has been sold for development of a new housing community.

Pulte Homes Co. bought the 139-acre Lazy K Bar Ranch for $6.5 million with plans to build up to 178 homes at the site, near North Scenic Drive and West Pima Farms Road.

The lots range in size from 7,000 to 11,000 square feet, and most back up to open space, said Randy Emerson with GRE Partners, who represented the seller, LKB Hotel LLC. The sale closed April 29.

After two failed rezoning attempts, Pulte was able to present a plan that suited most residents and the Marana Town Council.

Public access to the southern trails and the original stone building on the patio — that dates to the 1930s — will be preserved.

“Pulte’s done a great job of reaching out and being good neighbors,” Emerson said. “It’s a big deal.”

The scenic property was a source of interest for other homebuilders, but opposition to its development delayed the rezoning for years.

The town was presented with multiple proposals, said Jamsheed Mehta, Marana’s town manager.

“We’re convinced there is no market for what it originally was,” he said. “Some folks thought this was the worst idea, so we had to be careful.”

The town worked as an intermediary between area residents, developers and members of the community at large.

“There were others — who were not immediately adjacent to it — who were concerned about how it would be developed,” Mehta said. “They were concerned about its proximity to Saguaro National Park and the migration of animals.”

Concessions include no paved sidewalks along Scenic Drive to preserve the natural environment and a new water line that extends to the north to serve existing residents, given that a groundwater well that would have served the project was contaminated with chemical pollutants.

“This is a very beautiful area and I’m hoping we get to see a housing community that is unique,” Mehta said. “While it’s a good idea to cater to the growing demand for housing in Marana, we are not rubber-stamping anything.”

Work on treatment plants to remove the pollutants is in the early stages.

John Kmiec, director of the Marana Water utility, said that the design of treatment plants for the water system that will serve Lazy K property and a second system serving another part of Marana is now about 30 percent complete. The town is in the process of hiring a construction manager to oversee building of the treatment plants. Once that’s done, the plant design will be finished, and officials hope construction of water systems’ treatment plants will start later this summer, and that the treatment facilities will be online by late summer 2020, he said.

“The builders for Lazy K have been in communication with us. It is my understanding that they would like to time their construction and eventual home occupancy as closely with our new treatment works as possible,” Kmiec told the Star in an email.

Site work has commenced, but future home prices have not yet been determined.

“Development is already underway and we anticipate opening the community for sales in spring 2020,” Macey Kessler, Pulte’s corporate communications manager said via email. “We are very excited to deliver our next community in the town of Marana.”

Star reporter Tony Davis contributed to this story. Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at grico@tucson.com. On Facebook: Facebook.com/DailyStarBiz

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Gabriela's newspaper career began at the Tucson Citizen in '86 as the "movie-times girl" where she'd call local theaters for showtimes. Since then, she's written about crime, education, immigration, trade and business. She's been with the Star since 2007.