It's a conservative approach that is the hallmark of David Hill, Cordillera Ranch's founder.
built an enormously successful development company in the 1980s by focusing on low-leverage opportunities.
David's son, Charlie, now serves as chief financial officer at DH Investments
and says his
father learned to capitalize on the inevitable downturns in the market.
But when the landowners suggested they were going ahead regardless, Hill
reluctantly agreed to enter into a partnership.
Shovels hit dirt in 1997, and right from the beginning the project was different.
A development entity was formed, with the Hill family's DH Investment firm taking 50 percent and the original landowners the other 50 percent.
True to his
fiscal nature, David Hill
negotiated the deal without accruing any debt.
Charlie says this was essential to the viability of Cordillera Ranch
"A deal this size is going to ultimately be a 25- or 30-year development, and it's just not going to survive with any bank debt on it."
Without the pressure to achieve minimum revenues, the project was free to grow as the market demanded rather than what bankers wanted.
"We structured the agreement so that we acquire the land in small chunks from the landowner on a seller's note, which is then paid off when we sell lots," Hill
sales agents are encouraged to use this debt-free factoid in their pitches.
"I bet at least half of all prospects ask about our debt load," he