By Alison Bailin Batz
This summer, Brooks Realty & Advisory Group (BRAG) will unveil “The Estates” in northern Arizona.
“The Estates are 10-acre Ponderosa pine-covered forest properties adjacent to Forest Highlands Golf Club and the Coconino National Forest just south of Flagstaff,” says Benjamin “Tres” Brooks III, who founded BRAG in Scottsdale in 1996.
Overall, there will be 16 estate parcels – each 10 acres – available in the gated community, with access to the estate properties permitted only through Forest Highlands’ 24-hour guard gated-entrance, off Highway 89A.
All of the 10-acre estates will have underground electric, phone and internet, along with natural gas. Water will be provided by individual wells as the development lies over a tremendous aquifer with abundant water, the same source that all of Forest Highlands’ wells use for their water supply.
“Individual wells also offer much more water-rights flexibility, independent water freedoms and less ongoing water expenses for very large grass areas, ponds, fountains, swimming pools, and so on,” says Tres. “In addition, special memberships to Forest Highlands Golf Club are available, providing owners with access to Forest Highlands’ two championship golf courses, two clubhouses with dining and an array of other fine amenities.”
Brooks believes these 10-acre forest estates will truly become family legacy estate properties.
And speaking of family legacies, the Brooks family has built a very special one – one that is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019.
This month, we are proud to share their journey.
The Initial Dream
Benjamin “Ben” Brooks II – Tres’ father – was born in Escondido, Calif. in 1940.
He didn’t attend college, but was determined to build something special with his life. Street smart and motivated, he worked at a gas station in his early years as he saved and planned for the future.
In his early 20s, he married his wife Donna and welcomed his first child, Tres. By 1964, Ben knew what he would make his life’s work, and where he would make it.
“He saw Arizona not as the Wild Wild West, but as the land of plenty when it came to rich, very special land,” says Tres. “He wanted to build a legacy by helping to develop this land for families just like ours. He saw land as something that could be passed down in families over several generations.”
Armed with Donna, Tres still in diapers and this dream, Ben moved to Arizona and earned his real estate license and then getting valuable experience on the residential sales side of the industry while studying up on land ownership opportunities.
“From what I am told, those were awfully lean years for the family,’ says Tres, who welcomed a sister, Julie, in 1966. “Looking back, I still marvel at the fortitude and determination it took from both my parents to persevere through it.”
Turning Dream into Reality
By 1969, Ben was ready to make his first move toward his dream, founding Ben Brooks & Associates.
“There was just one problem,” says Tres. “In the late 1960s and into the 1970s, the land development industry in Arizona was riddled with some pretty bad guys. So bad, in fact, my dad pulled himself out and went back to more traditional real estate while these legitimate felons were apprehended and punished by law.”
Over the next 15 years, Ben made quite a name for himself in the Arizona real estate scene, growing Ben Brooks & Associates to six offices statewide, including an iconic location on 44th and Camelback that still stands today as a Schmidt Jewelers.
During this time, a young Tres set his sights on one day working with his father, going so far as to earn his real estate license while still in high school.
“But, my parents were pretty adamant that I attend and graduate college before anything else. They wanted me to be the first in our family to do so,” says Tres, who graduated The University of Arizona in 1985 just as his father re-committed himself to land development and investment. “I couldn’t believe how the stars aligned on that timing, but they just did.”
Making it a Family Affair
Diploma in hand, Tres earned an entry-level job from his father.
“I started doing sales for a land project he had near Show Low called The Ranch,” says Tres, who fell in love with the ‘cowboy’ lifestyle and adopted his now-trademark black cowboy hat, red shirt and boots not long after.
Tres worked his way up, earning his broker’s license at just 24.
“Then things got…interesting. My dad pushed me to go out on my own,” says Tres, who at the time was flabbergasted at even the thought of not working together. “So, in 1996 I founded BRAG, focused on developing land with a group of my own investors.”
The funniest part of the story is that within a year of BRAG launching – to great fanfare and immediate success – Ben earned the biggest land deal the Southwest had ever seen: the chance to develop 130,000 acres near Lake Havasu City and Kingman.
“Though I was humming along with my own business, he knew I was the person for this job, which required me to actually move to Lake Havasu for a spell to commit to it fully,” says Tres. “I moved up there in 1997 and was told by every prognosticator and industry ‘expert’ it would take 10 years to sell all the land. I did it in less than seven, moving back to Scottsdale in 2003.”
And that is just one of Tres’ landmark projects. Both Ben and Tres, in fact, took on a who’s who of massively successful ventures from Arizona to Wyoming to New Mexico. Tres even starred in television commercials for some of the ranches, all in his cowboy attire and often on a horse!
Tragedy and Triumph
“And then the unthinkable happened,” says Tres. “My father was involved in a motorcycle accident and lost his life in 2007, just as the real estate crash began as well.”
The next 10 years would be filled with the highest of highs – Tres is now married with three children himself – and lowest of lows, notably keeping a real estate business afloat during the all-time worst period in the industry’s history.
By 2017, 10 years after losing his father, things were on the upswing for Tres professionally again. So much so, when he was up at his family’s vacation home in Forest Highlands and learned about land coming available for development nearby, he jumped at the chance to head the project. Fast-forward to this summer; this land is none other than The Estates.
Beyond believing these 10-acre estates will truly become a legacy for families for several generations, the project will mark the Brooks family’s purchase and development of nearly one millions acres of land in the western United States.
“Talk about full circle,” says Tres. “Getting to help build on the legacy that my father started and continue making this dream he had when he was barely out of high school a reality has me emotional and proud.”
For more information on the Brooks family, The Estates or any of its current ranch properties across the country, visit www.brooksland.com.