Continental Ranch's Rocky Past Lead To A Stable Future

Continental Ranch was the first master-planned community in Marana, offering a blueprint of what the town would become.

The town has pushed forward with mass residential developments such as Gladden Farms and Rancho Marana — all of which are based, in part, on Continental Ranch.

The development stemmed from vast tracts of land acquired by the Dow Chemical Company along the Santa Cruz River. The land passed through the hands of various speculators until it was acquired by Lew McGinnis. After McGinnis was convicted of theft in an unrelated deal, the Marana Continental Ranch area went to Charles Keating Jr., best known for the savings and loan scandal of the 1980s.

In 1987, when Marana was only 10 years old, Keating persuaded the Marana Town Council to annex 2,100 acres of Continental Ranch. 

Pima County created and approved a master development plan, and it was considered solid by government officials and citizens.

In 1989, Keating’s American Continental Corp., along with his Lincoln Savings and Loan, went bankrupt. Keating was charged with multiple crimes and eventually spent more than four years in prison.  Many investors lost large sums of money. 

The federally supervised Resolution Trust Corp. oversaw the liquidation of Keating’s holdings and acquired the Continental Ranch property in the late 1980s. 

The land sat dormant for a few years until Southwest Value Partners purchased it in 1992 for pennies on the dollar. Southwest Value Partners parceled off “superblocks” to homebuilders who began to build tracts of homes. 

Omaha-based Southwest Value Partners still owns major tracks of land in Marana. It’s run by Millard Seldin and former National Bank of Arizona president/Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver.

In 2002, Continental Ranch was turned over to the homeowners and it has thrived. Extensive involvement by community members has tremendously helped Continental Ranch preserve its beauty by keeping up with capital improvements.

Now the largest subdivision in Marana, Continental Ranch is also one of the most expansive communities in Southern Arizona with 4,000 homes within its HOA.

Marana has steadily grown over the years, feeding residential development. Continental Ranch has filled its boundaries, and the properties within it have appreciated dramatically, with prices ranging from $300,000 to $800,000.

Continental Ranch has become the “heart of Marana.” There are many amenities, including shopping, parks, pools, quality schools, and employment opportunities all within or very close to Continental Ranch. 


Gregory Richman is an associate broker at HomeSmart Advantage Group. He can be reached at 520-248-1239 or [email protected]. His websites are, and

Post a Comment