Homebuilder Ed Robson looks back, ahead

It has been 40 years since homebuilder Ed Robson invested in a patch of farmland south of Chandler and, with knowledge he had obtained as director of corporate sales for legendary Sun City developer Del Webb, he developed Sun Lakes retirement community. Robson, 82, a former Marine helicopter pilot and a Team USA hockey player in 1955, has gone on to become one of Arizona's most successful residential developers. And though he left Webb's side after only a few years in the early 1960s to become the leading competitor, some contemporaries say Robson represents Webb's direct legacy more than the PulteGroup Inc. division that still bears the master's name. Robson Communities -- unlike the former Del Webb Corp., now a part of publicly traded Pulte Homes and Centex Homes owner PulteGroup -- has remained in private hands and under Robson's leadership for four decades. It hasn't always been easy, particularly during the recent housing downturn, Robson said in a interview last month with The Republic. Still, Robson said he believes there always will be a market for retirement-community developers, regardless of whether the active-adult community of the future is a sprawling exurban subdivision or an inner-city high-rise.

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