Home giveaway caps revival of Bonney Lake-area development

BONNEY LAKE, Wash. - A formerly bankrupt mega-housing development remarketed itself, culminating in a house giveaway Saturday amid lots of hoopla.

The new developers are hoping to capitalize on the excitement to generate home sales. They're hoping to turn this new mega-community into a boom town.

"A new home would change anyone's life," says one contestant, Jay Bradley. "I'm really nervous. The faster we get this done the better."

He's one of six finalists will soon build a future in the new development near Bonney Lake.

The contest winner must win first face a series of challenges representative of their new desired hometown.

"Good, good, good, pretty stressful," says a contestant.

That sentiment may sum up the history of the development, which began more than 15 years ago. Originally called "Cascadia," it fell prey to the housing bust. The previous owners filed for bankrupty, and builders pulled out.

"At that point it was best we moved on from Cascadia," says Richard Obernesser of Shea Homes.

But now his company re-invested, after a new owner bought the property last year. They renamed it "Tehaleh" and remarketed it. Over the next 20 years, some 5,900 homes may spring up from a former forest.

"We believe that the market is coming back - simply supply and demand," says Obernesser.

Developers say the master planned community could ultimately provide over 4 million square feet of business space - and even provide up to 10,000 new jobs in those businesses.

"They're all keyed up for a new beginning - hoping to build on winner Jay Bradley's excitement.

"I think I won a house," he says. "It's crazy. ... I'm just so happy, I never thought I'd have a house."

The winner will get $280,000 to choose his own floor plan.