Lewis’ East Street project about “timing, timing, timing”

By Curtis Riggs | May 13, 2009

Delaying groundbreaking until market rebounds
CAREFREE – Easy Street developer Ed Lewis says his $100-million downtown project will not go forward until the market is stable and ready to accept new housing.

Lewis’ $100 million mixed-use venture was welcomed so warmly back in 2006 the Carefree Town Council created a favorable zoning text amendment for it and did whatever else it could to get the project approved. Former Mayor Ed Morgan thought so much of the project he went to work for Lewis after he left office.

Lewis had initially planned to build two-high-rise buildings, which would contain 78 luxury condominiums. The plan is to build as many as 30 boutiques, restaurants and shops below them.

Lewis was planning to break ground on the Easy Street project in 2008. He purchased two parcels, which total approximately five acres, for the project in 2007.

“Ed Lewis is committed to Carefree. He owns two parcels outright,” new Town Administrator Gary Neiss said last week. “He considers the location for this business plan to be excellent.”

Lewis, who also built the Landmark luxury living component at the Kierland Commons in north Scottsdale, recently said it could be at least a year before the local housing market rebounds.

“By next year we are going to see clearer improvements,” he said.

To Neiss the economic downturn, and real-estate slump, have helped to change the real-estate mantra from “location, location, location” to the slogan of “timing, timing, timing.”

He stressed Lewis is still committed to and excited about building in Carefree.

‘Nothing is going forward at this time because no one can get financing,” Neiss said. “We don’t want to see any buildings in default. When the timing is right he will get started.”