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open house

Meritage, which has space for 700 more homes in Province, opened new models to invited guests on April 29.

Province has space for 700 more homes. The developer would like to have it completed in seven years.

As a means of accomplishing that, Meritage Homes has a goal of selling at least 100 homes a year, according to Jeffrey Grobstein, president of the Tucson division.

Province, a gated, active-adult (55+) community, has seen a lot of construction activity on its north side as Meritage placed model homes. The company invited Province residents to tour the new designs April 29.

“What we did was try to create some new footages and new room counts,” Grobstein said. “They do have new features. The earlier models we designed are over 5 years old. Over time, some of the energy-efficiency elements are a little bit different.”

He said the new designs are trying to accommodate a demographic that is more mixed because of changes in the workplace. Some residents are fully retired, some still go to work and some do consulting work out of their homes. Some of the new models have defined office space while others don’t.

Mike Kirk, who has lived in Province since 2006, said he and his wife were looking for larger master bedrooms and a large laundry room, “and none of them have that.”

But he added the plans looked nice and workable. The visual accessibility of the living room or entertainment area from the kitchen and dining room present in most models was a plus for the Kirks.

“With these floorplans we’re seeing a pretty good mix of interest,” Grobstein said. “We’ve created some great floor layouts on the larger size, but then we have some smaller ones that live really well.”

Feedback helps developers learn what potential homebuyers of a certain generation want and need.

“We have a whole different type of buyer. We have people that are from out-of-state who are coming out of 2,000 to 3,000-square-foot homes. They’ll gravitate toward our largest models,” Grobstein said.

To limit custom changes, plans have built in “optionality.” For instance, some have second doors in master bedroom closets that lead into the laundry room. The models for The Residences at Province subtly cater to baby boomers with names of musicians from the 1960s and ‘70s, like the Dylan, the Joplin and the Zeppelin.

While that was a bit of whimsy, retirees and almost-retireds also looked for solid evidence of their future lifestyle needs.

“We’ve lived in other communities, and one of them caters to the retirement population with wider doors and having air registers down on the ground so you can change out the filters,” Kirk said.

“We have a goal to sell over 100 a year,” Grobstein said. “That’s the real reason we came in with new model product and newer floor plan.”

Bo and Michelle Johnson officially become owners of Yogurt Jungle on Dec. 1. They have planned an open house for Dec. 5.

Yogurt Jungle is getting a new owner.

When the Maricopa shop opened in 2011, it was Sharilynn Hewitt’s second store (the first in Queen Creek). Economically, it was a challenging time to open a new business, but she was able to manage the ebb and flow. This fall, she turned the reins over to Michelle Harl Johnson and her husband Bo.

They officially take over Dec. 1 and are planning an open house Dec. 5 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is a chance to meet the new owners and even win prizes on Spin the Wheel.

“We want to grow it and advertise, advertise, advertise to get the name out there, so people know we’re here and we’re here to stay,” Michelle Johnson said.

Johnson, a manager at Chili’s in Casa Grande, has been in the food business since she was a teenager in Pennsylvania.

She worked three years at McDonald’s and then went on to Applebee’s and Chili’s. In the meantime, she moved to Arizona in 1998. Serious about a career in the business, she went to school, commuting twice a week to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas for three years to earn her bachelor’s degree and then picking up her master’s degree as well.

Her work and education were aimed at delivering food to an eager public.

If You Go …
What: Yogurt Jungle open house
Who: New owners Michelle and Bo Johnson
When: Dec. 5, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: 21101 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite E1
Info: 520-423-9597


“It’s my passion,” Johnson said. “It’s what I do. It’s what I know. It makes people happy and puts joy in their life.”

When Hewitt started looking for a new owner of the nearly 5-year-old business, Michelle and Bo gave Yogurt Jungle a good look.

“It’s all about families,” Johnson said. “Families come here, single moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, everybody comes here. Everybody loves yogurt. Who doesn’t love yogurt? You can be healthy, you can be bad, you can be everything.”

The Johnsons moved to Maricopa three years ago.

“Yogurt Jungle will continue to be a family-owned and now locally-owned business,” Hewitt posted to her Facebook customers in announcing the sale.

OWNER PROFILE
Michelle Johnson, Yogurt Jungle

BUSINESS
First job: McDonald’s at age 15
Favorite job: McDonald’s – it laid the base for my career.
Why this business: It’s fun. Kids love it. People love it.
Why Maricopa: It’s got a small-town feel but is close to the big city.
Greatest challenge: Commuting twice a week to UNLV
Best business advice you received: Follow your heart.
Best business advice you gave: If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.

PERSONAL
Resides: Homestead
Originally from: Erie, Pennsylvania
Education: Master’s degree, UNLV
Family: Husband Bo and two kids
Pets: Two cats and a dog
Hobbies/Interests: Reading

FAVORITES
Food: Comfort food like pasta and pizza
Beverage: Powerade
Actor: Brad Pitt
Musical genre: I love it all.
Sport: Football
Sports team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Charity: American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity
Travel destination: Puerto Rico
City: Maricopa
Books: Murder mysteries