SWVP Venture Spends $27.65 Million for 4,508 Acres at Merrill Ranch

March 25, 2010

Pinal County – Companies formed by Southwest Value Partners in San Diego, Calif., paid just over $27.65 million to buy 4,508 acres in a planned community in the Florence area of Pinal County called Merrill Ranch. The seller was a consortium of lenders, including Merchants and Farmers Bank in Greene County, Ala. The buyer was represented by Jeremy McArthur of McArthur Land Co. in Scottsdale. The seller was represented by Rob Whitmire and John DeYonker of Bull Realty Inc. in Atlanta, Ga. GoldenTree Insight Partners in New York City, N.Y. (Tom Shapiro, pres.) provided 70 percent of the capital for the cash purchase. Southwest Value Partners contributed the other 30 percent. Nate Nathan, Dave Mullard and Casey Christensen of Nathan & Associates Inc. in Scottsdale brought GoldenTree Insight Partners and Southwest Value Partners together. The land purchased by Southwest Value Partners is within the 8,752-acre Merrill Ranch. That project is located about 2 1⁄2 miles west of Highway 79 (Florence Highway), and is bisected by both Hunt Highway and Felix Road. The land is zoned and entitled for 15,000 single-family lots. Roughly 900 acres is targeted for commercial and industrial uses. Justin Merritt of SVP says the company will hold the property for four or five years, and then sell to multiple home builders and developers.

In May 2001, BREW reported a company formed by Harrison Merrill of Vanguard Properties in Atlanta paying $14 million to buy the 8,752 acres, which is now known as Merrill Ranch. In July 2004, Merrill’s company sold 2,102 acres at Merrill Ranch to Pulte Home Corp. in Scottsdale. Pulte paid $56.76 million to buy the land and is developing Anthem at Merrill Ranch. Merrill’s company defaulted on a loan secured by the land sold to Southwest Value Partners and the lender foreclosed on the property. The investment is the first in the Valley for the privately held GoldenTree Insight Partners. The company is managing roughly $1.1 billion in committed equity. Over the years, BREW has reported companies formed by Southwest Value Partners buying numerous properties in the Valley. The company now controls more than 23,000 lots in the Greater Phoenix area. Southwest Value Partners is also looking for more real estate deals in the Phoenix area. At year-end, Southwest Value Partners paid $1.45 million to buy 537 partially finished lots within the Anthem at Merrill Ranch community. That project is at the southwest corner of Hunt Highway and Merrill Ranch Parkway. Pulte was the seller in that deal. Southwest Value Partners is holding the home sites for investment until the housing market corrects in the Valley.