Chateaux on Central Finally Sold -- For Just Fraction of Asking Price

Kudos to this week's Phoenix Business Journal, which finally provides the information we've all been waiting for, namely, just what exactly is going to happen to those faux chateaux on Central Avenue?

We've long been obsessed with the 21-townhouse project at Central and Palm, as we acknowledged in a column last fall. For one thing, the fanciful design always struck as an odd fit with the mid-century modern look so prevalent here. For another, the developers planned to market the homes for as much as $4.5 million per unit.

Who the heck, we wondered, would pay that? For a home without a yard? For a home in, yes, downtown Phoenix?

As the Journal's now reporting, the answer is no one -- but some nice Wisconsinites might well pay $7 million for all 21 units.

That averages out to just $333,000 per unit.

Frankly, considering that the project has sat unfinished, and open to the elements, for more than a year, $333,333 seems like a hefty per-unit price. But compare that number to what they hoped to get, and it's shocking.

It's shocking, too, in light of the money already poured into the project. Its original cost was estimated at $40 million, according to the Arizona Republic. But after a good chunk of that money was expended, the project fell into bankruptcy -- and had to be saved with another $47 million from the infamous Mortgages Ltd. The project ultimately defaulted on that loan, too, just before Mortgages Ltd. founder Scott Coles committed suicide.

And we're not convinced that the Chateaux are out of the woods yet. The Wisconsin buyers, ML Manager LLC, told the Business Journal that they see the purchase as a "good investment" -- but we still wonder who's going to buy one of these things.

Really, we used to question who would pay $4 million for a townhome with a turret.

Today, in this economy, we're wondering if anyone will pay $350,000. Yes, the guys from Wisconsin are hopeful, but only time will prove whether this project remains cursed -- or whether these fairy-tale-like units will finally get their happy ending.

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