ST. MICHAELS —When Karigan Estates residential neighborhood opened in 2002, it marked the first time in America that a Native American Nation offered its people the opportunity to own home and land in a master-planned community.
The initial response was so overwhelming, Navajos were standing in line for the chance to purchase, and many had to place their name on a waiting list for future phases. Now, the final phase, Karigan Estates II, has opened.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in Washington, D.C., which is responsible for the management of sovereign land within all Indian nations, does not allow for mortgaging of trust land. Prior to Karigan Estates, Indian housing communities were built on trust land acquired through long-term leases from the tribes, with approval from the BIA. Although the home was owned by the homeowner, the land was not.
In 1994, the Division of Economic Development of the Navajo Nation purchased a 113-acre parcel of land in St. Michaels, less than two miles west of Window Rock, the Navajo nation capitol and economic center of the nation.
For generations the land was owned by the Karigan family and used as a trading post. Although the land is surrounded by the Navajo Nation, the parcel is not BIA trust land. Therefore the home buyer will have title to the land and can mortgage, sell or pass the property to heirs under the laws of inheritance.
“The buyers are very happy with the land ownership opportunities at Karigan, and are equally delighted with the fact that Karigan offers them a neighborhood they can be proud of,” said Jim Pullaro Jr., sales manager for Karigan Estates.
Historically, Indian housing programs offered rental housing to lower income families. Karigan Estates is the first and, by far the largest, master-planned community, to offer housing opportunities for middle and upper income Native American families.
Pullaro pointed out that Karigan Estates is bringing housing for the Native American into the 21st century. The subdivision mirrors traditional new home subdivisions. It offers a full-service sales team, a model home, title and escrow services and market rate financing through institutional lenders.
Lorinda Roanhorse, community administrator of Karigan Estates, stressed that Karigan appeals to both current residents of the Nation and those who have chosen to move away to metropolitan communities.
“Many Navajos left the reservation to pursue higher education but often did not return because of the lack of adequate housing to meet their needs,” Roanhorse said. She went on to say that many homeowners in Karigan Estates have also expressed how pleased they are to be able to participate in the American dream of home ownership, and at the same time return to their ancestral roots rich with Navajo culture, heritage and values.
As part of the community, the state-of-the-art Karigan Child Care Center opened in 2002. The center provides childcare for nearly all ages, from infants to teens. The development of the center was unique in that it was constructed with details that promote the Diné philosophy and is operated by an all-Navajo staff.
Karigan Estates also has established the first homeowners association to be found in Indian country. In recent interviews of the existing Karigan homeowners, every respondent stated the importance of the homeowner association as part of the decision making process. The association’s by-laws will help to preserve the resale value of the buyer’s investment. The association, among other things, is responsible for roadways and common areas and provides such services as snow and trash removal.
Home ownership in Karigan Estates requires that at least one person within the purchasing family be Navajo, as mandated by the Navajo Nation Council. However, once occupied by a Navajo buyer, the home can be resold to anyone. By utilization of a special HUD loan program the buyers total out-of –pocket costs can be as little as $1,050, with monthly payments as low as $1,175. Buyers can be qualified over the phone in less than 15 minutes.
Grading of the remaining 96 lots Karigan lots commenced March 14. The construction of the second phase homes, with the predominately Navajo housing construction crews, commenced in April. National Bank of Arizona, a lender that has made significant commitments to lending in Indian country, is providing construction financing.
Four, five and six bedroom homes are priced from $159,900 to $219,900, including the standard lot. Sizes range from 1,587 to 2,300 square Feet, and offer a variety of floor plans designed with a family lifestyle in mind.
Key features include dramatic nine-foot ceilings, 2x6 framed construction, R-38 ceiling and R-19 wall insulation, a 25-foot deep two-car garage that accommodates long-bed pickup trucks, tile floor entry, carpet, cultured marble counter tops in bathrooms, gourmet
Kitchens including, breakfast nooks and spacious pantries, municipal water and sewer, underground utilities, water conserving desert landscape package and rear masonry block fencing.
The Karigan master planned community includes a playground, picnic areas with gazebo, and community barbecues.
Models are open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information, contact the Karigan Estates sales center at 928-871-5531.