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Luxurious Gated Homes No Mortgage By Sheryl Kornman Real estate developer Roger Karber’s move into luxury rental housing began 10 years ago with development of the Finisterra Luxury Rentals community at Tanque Verde and Kolb Roads. He sought out Garry Brav, president of BFL Construction to handle construction. Together, they brought in investor G.S. Jaggi, managing director of Iridius Capital. Until then, most Tucson-area multifamily communities were built like caves, Karber said. They had three shared walls, little privacy and low ceilings. Most amenities were on the outside – in clubhouses, exercise rooms, community pools, spas and tennis courts. But Finisterra broke that mold. Finisterra apartments offered consumers an Olympic-sized pool, nine-foot ceilings, ceramic tile flooring, built-in flat-panel TVs under kitchen cabinets, fire sprinklers, security alarms, private balconies and patios – even a three-bedroom twobath option at 1,300 square feet. Finisterra residents moved in as quickly as buildings could be constructed and remains one of the industry’s top performers today. That success led Karber, Jaggi and Brav (now also CEO of BFL Ventures) to explore just how far they could stretch the product evolution – ultimately set-

tling on single-story detached luxury rental homes in gated neighborhoods. Operating as Alta Vista Communities

Today fewer individuals see a home with a mortgage as their best long-term housing solution, Karber said – especially when they can rent a new luxury home that is managed professionally. For their projects, the investors hired a woman-owned local affiliate, MEB Management Services, recognized for its consumer sensitivity. Today, operating as Alta Vista Communities, Karber and his partners are developing 11 single-family detached luxury rental home communities in the Tucson area. The properties, which are marketed to consumers as AVILLA, are in various stages of completion. Karber has nearly 40 years of Arizona real estate experience. He began in real estate while studying business at Pima Community College – on the advice of his father, a union pipefitter whose friends were helping to construct the Alaska pipeline back in the mid 1970s. The pipefitters were looking for investments and Karber’s father suggested Tucson real estate. With support from these small investors, Karber and his wife, Diane

Fitzpatrick, began buying and renovating rental houses, then moved up to 10-plexes, and on to 20-, 36- and even 40-unit apartment buildings, primarily in the University of Arizona area. They improved the properties and sold them, mostly to California investors. They also participated in the 76-unit conversion of the Tucson Inn annex into student rental apartments supporting Pima College’s new Downtown Campus. Karber’s early success as an entrepreneur encouraged him and he wanted to make real estate development his life’s work. He interviewed with Roy Drachman, Perry Bassett, George Mehl and Joe Freidheim, telling them he would work for free while studying economics and real estate. “I just wanted a chance to learn how to be a developer,” he said. Focusing on the Consumer

His interview with second-generation homebuilder Bill Estes Jr. paid off. He offered him a fulltime position developing large new rental communities. His new boss told him to keep studying business but get the job done – and he did. That was 1979. Karber’s first project for Estes was planning hundreds of apartments on a 40-acre site at Pantano Road and Fifth continued on page 198 >>>


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