Prescott Valley’s Pronghorn Group is taking the workforce-housing problem by the horns. As an Arizona developer of Boxabl communities, which use steel composite casita units built in a factory and shipped for setup, the group has three projects planned in Yavapai County already.
They include a Prescott Valley Phase One 37-unit site, planned to house the Northern Arizona Wranglers indoor-football team, a Phase One 48-unit development to house miners working for Freeport-McMoran in Bagdad, and another to house teachers for the Chino Valley Unified School District.
Pronghorn Group CEO Ben Snyder said he wants to provide desperately needed housing. For the proposed Prescott Valley Wranglers project he has committed to doing it at cost if the Phase One Baja project can be approved in time for this year’s football season. The tentative plan is to rent each of the 32 Wranglers units for $900 per month, about half the average area rent. If the project is approved and completed in time, the players could afford to live where they work, and they’re a championship team the area doesn’t want to lose. The six-acre Baja development site, off the south side of 89A near Viewpoint Drive, will feature a clubhouse and many attractive amenities.
“Arizona has the ability to be the leader” in workforce housing, Snyder said, adding that it could be the ‘casita’ workforce-housing leader nationwide.
He got involved with Boxabl after his oldest son Trey spoke with his uncle, who works at the Freeport McMoran copper mine, and they discussed the lack of available housing. The uncle has driven the long road from town to work for ten years, and noted that it can be a dangerous, dark drive after a long day at work. Snyder also learned that when the Spur Fire burned a number of Bagdad homes it took a long time to rebuild them.
“It became apparent that traditional homebuilding alone was not going to solve the workforce-housing problem,” Snyder said. “We needed innovation.”
Snyder researched options, and one of Pronghorn's planners and engineers found Boxabl. When he approached the mining company, its executives asked for 176 units for employees. The timing of the meeting with Boxabl was fortuitous, since the company had only recently opened a manufacturing plant in Las Vegas and has even bigger expansion plans for manufacturing locations in other states. Snyder said he hopes one will eventually be added in Arizona, which would be more efficient than shipping from Nevada.
“New doesn’t bother us when it’s better, quicker, and faster,” Snyder said on the innovative housing solution Boxabl created. “Freeport and Pronghorn went to the factory to see how they manufacture these units and were very impressed.” He said the founders of the company have outstanding backgrounds in innovation and manufacturing.
The only snag the Pronghorn Group has met is in working with the Arizona Department of Housing, which didn’t much know what to make of these new folding homes. Many of the descriptions in the housing code are written for modular or manufactured housing, which the units don’t fit well. The company tried to work within guidelines for other housing units anyway, even getting a license as a manufactured-housing installer. At this writing they are still awaiting final approvals. A California class called Accessory Dwelling Units is approved to help with that state’s growing housing needs by easing the approval process and cutting red tape.
“3D-printing houses gets everybody’s attention, and it’s attracted a lot of money,” but Boxabl is literally a solution that can be installed in a day, Snyder said.
A Boxabl room unit costs about $60,000 and can be installed for as little as $150,000 to $170,000 all in. The company can install four units in a day after the foundation and utility connections are in place.
“They’re all-steel composite, fire resistant, mold-proof, energy-efficient and hurricane-proof,” said Travis Hess, Chief Operating Officer for the group. Unlike 3D-printed houses, which only include walls, everything from the roof to the floor and appliances are already built in.
Not only are school districts and sports teams interested in Boxabl housing for employees, Snyder said the company has been contacted by hospitals, the Prescott Valley police department and other groups. “This can serve the workforce, veterans, teachers and first-responders,” Snyder said.
Hess adds, “In Prescott Valley they’re losing people every week at the town because they can’t afford to live here,” he said. “We’ve got to be proactive, not reactive, and solve these housing needs.”
The Pronghorn Group is best known for Pronghorn Ranch, a 640-acre suburban development north of 89A off Viewpoint Drive in Prescott Valley. Snyder said the company will consider other low-cost development prototypes to provide consumers with more options for additional development. The company will be able to finance projects at an attractive rate, too. It has a large number of units on order for various projects for the next few years.