Westside parcel may be housing crystal ball

It's a 32 acre parcel on Tucson's west side which may give developers an idea of where the housing market stands right now.

It's right next to the Silverbell Golf Course, less than five miles from downtown and in the path of the Silverbell widening project which will make getting around easier.

The parcel is being subdivided into 143 sites for mid-price to affordable housing.

Prices will range from $150,000 up.

The property is owned by Bill Estes III, whose family has been building Tucson homes for 66 years.

"The property is well situated, close to downtown," he says.

The family bought it several years ago with the idea of building the development called Silverbell Crossing.

But the industry collapsed and the project was put on hold.

But recently, the city asked Estes to redraw the project to accommodate the road widening project.

"There are some glimmers in the industry," Estes says. "It's the first time in a couple of years we've talked about moving ahead."

Whether there's a little interest or a lot of interest may provide some signs as to where the housing industry stands in Tucson right now.

Estes is looking to develop some of it himself but is also willing to divide it up if other developers want to build ten houses or more here and there.

"We're having brokers and builders call us," he says.

The number of affordable, low price and mid range priced housing in Tucson is beginning to drop as investors and people taking advantage of low interest rates gobble up the inventory.

"I think its good for our community if we can take advantage of development sites that have infrastructure and are close in," says Albert Elias, an assistant Tucson city manager. "I think those are the most attractive in the market place."

Whether the marketplace agrees with him may give a measure of just how the recovery in the housing industry is progressing.

"I do think it's a trend and I do think it's a positive trend," Elias says.