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McDowell Mountain Ranch History

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McDowell Mountain Ranch Historymmrparkwater

1992 Long-time Valley residents and philanthropists, the Herberger family sells its 3,200-acre ranch to Newhall Land & Farming Company. As part of the transaction, Bob Herberger stipulates that a portion of the property transfer to the public domain.

1992 Curt Smith joins Newhall Land & Farming as executive vice president of McDowell Mountain Ranch Company, a division of the Valencia, Calif.-based real estate developer.

1994 Nearly 900 pristine acres nestled against the foothills on the southwestern slopes of the McDowell Mountains are donated to the City of Scottsdale for public use as part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve – a gift valued at $7 million.

1993 Curt Smith meets with various neighborhood and preservation groups to review development plans.

1994 McDowell Mountain Ranch wins unanimous support of the Scottsdale Planning Commission and the City Council.

1994 Largest new community approved for development under Scottsdale’s Environmental Sensitivity and Landscape Ordinance (ESLO) of 1991. The ESLO also mandated creation and maintenance of a minimum percentage of Natural Area Open Space (NAOS), i.e., washes and open space corridors, within McDowell Mountain Ranch.

1995 A herd of nine mule deer, bronze sculptures that reflect the community’s widely recognized logo, stand as sentries at the entrance to McDowell Mountain Ranch on Bell Road. The life-sized deer were created by world-renowned artist Snell Johnson.

April 1995 Eight builders offering 21 models in 11 neighborhoods begin sales. Prices range from the mid-$120’s to more than $500,000. During April, the four builders participating report receiving 34 lot reservations and an additional 82 contracts on homes.

McDowell Mountain Ranch wins coveted MAME Award as 1995 “Master Planned Community of the Year” from the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona.

May 1995 The community’s award-winning McDowell Mountain Ranch Information Center is opened.

Scottsdale residents vote in favor of a .2-cent sales tax to acquire land for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

August 1995 The McDowell Mountain Ranch Community Association issues guidelines for homeowners.

October 1995 The first “Design Trail Weekend” is hosted by the community, including Southwestern design, entertaining and landscaping workshops and seminars free to the public. Also inaugural hike by Native American artist and ethno-botanist David Morris, hired by McDowell Mountain Ranch to lead interpretive hikes into the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and present programs on “Harvest of the Desert” and other topics.

March 1996 The first “Desert Dwellers Weekend” is hosted by the community, featuring family hikes, rollerblading, mountain bike clinic, birdwatching, wildlife exhibits and a desert plant walk.

April 1996 McDowell Mountain Ranch is sold by Newhall Land & Farming Company to a joint-venture partnership of Haas & Haynie Corporation, San Francisco, Calif., and Sunbelt Holdings, based in Scottsdale. In Arizona, Haas & Haynie also developed Estancia, an exclusive country club in North Scottsdale. Other Arizona projects for Sunbelt Holdings include The Legacy at South Mountain, Power Ranch, Superstition Foothills and Surprise Farms.

May 1996 Curt Smith recaps the community’s first-year achievements, citing a weekly average sales rate from April 1, 1995 through March 31, 1996 of 9.4 homes, the highest in Scottsdale to date. At this point, more than 150 families are living at McDowell Mountain Ranch and an additional 240 have homes under construction.

June 1996 McDowell Mountain Ranch and the City of Scottsdale dedicate public parking and trail access from the 3,200-acre community into the McDowell Sonoran Preserve on National Trails Day. The celebration includes a public moonlight hike into the McDowell Mountains led by Native American naturalist and artist David Morris.

July 1996 McDowell Mountain Ranch is winner of two Gold Nugget Awards of Merit at the 1996 Pacific Coast Builders Conference Western Building Show in San Francisco -- for “Best Public/Private Special Use Facility” for its Information Center and “Best Public/Private Recreation Facility” for its Community Center complex.

August 1996 A 70-acre campus is donated to the City of Scottsdale for a shared-use facility – Desert Canyon School and Arabian Library – opening in August 1996. The campus also includes a Citizen Service Center offering Scottsdale residents a variety of city services. In addition, an elementary school is slated to open in fall 1998.

September 1996 Scottsdale voters approve the use of revenue bonds to buy land for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve using proceeds from the sales tax increase passed in May 1995.

November 1996 The McDowell Mountain Ranch Community Center and trails design receives an award of merit in the site development and landscaping (parks) category from Valley Forward Association in its 16th annual Environmental Excellence Awards program. A first-place award goes to Joe A. Tyler, artist of Sonoran Silhouettes, the name given to the entry-exit gates for Trovas, one of the McDowell Mountain Ranch neighborhoods.

Fall 1997 Final design of the 4.4-mile section of the Pima Road to Shea Boulevard section of the Pima Freeway (Loop 101) is completed. The $72.9-million project is the state’s most ambitious ever and includes Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard and Bell Road which “bracket” McDowell Mountain Ranch.

January 1998 Year-end 1997 home sales at McDowell Mountain Ranch surpass its 1996 totals by 37%. The community is ranked among the top 10 master-planned communities in the nation for sales volume by Los Angeles-based Robert Charles Lesser & Co.

The community brings home two Gold Awards from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) convention in Dallas, Texas, taking first place in two categories – the nation’s best sales or information pavilion, and best signage.

Potential home buyers now can access information about the community via the Internet at our Real Estate Section.

The new Greenway-Hayden Loop bridge between Bell and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard (FLWB) is scheduled to open by the end of January, giving McDowell Mountain Ranch residents another travel option.

The 260-acre Perimeter Center business park at Bell and Pima roads is 60% sold or in escrow with expected build-out in the year 2000.

February 1998 Construction begins on the much-anticipated Thompson Peak Parkway Bridge with expected completion by November 1998.

The first sheet of ice at the Phoenix Coyotes’ new $7.5 million practice facility opens on Bell Road, close to the community. Youth and adult hockey programs will be available in spring.

A combined Character-Area Study by the City of Scottsdale of the Scottsdale Airpark and the Sonoran Regional Core is launched. Together, the two areas anticipate employment levels from 80,000 to 100,000 employees at build-out.

May 1998 Scottsdale’s City Council considers whether to spend an additional $100,000 for design of a plan for permanent capital improvements at West World – the 385-acre equestrian and special event facility at Pima Road and FLWB.

Spring 1998 Geoffrey H. Edmunds opens 9 new models, celebrating its “mini-master plan” called Cimarron Hills within the McDowell Mountain Ranch community.

June 1998 The 8,400-square-foot Arabian Library, part of the community’s 70-acre school-library campus, doubles its book circulation during its first full fiscal year. To date, McDowell Mountain Ranch has contributed a total $22,396 to the library, donating $25 for every new home closing.

July 1998 Sunbelt Holdings merges with the corporate offices of McDowell Mountain Ranch and names Curt Smith executive vice president and chief operating officer.

August 1998 The new $4.5-million elementary school opens and is combined with the middle school to create Desert Canyon School, one of only two sites in the Scottsdale Unified School District offering K-8.

Construction starts on 4.4 miles of the Pima Freeway from the new alignment of Pima Road at Princess Drive on the north to Shea Boulevard on the south.

Construction begins on an 85,000-square-foot medical office plaza south of the Phoenix Coyotes’ Cellular One Ice Den at 93rd Street and Bell Road. HealthSouth is the anchor tenant.

Fall 1998 A new, five-acre soccer center on the 70-acre campus site dedicated by McDowell Mountain Ranch is completed and ready for play. McDowell Mountain Ranch donated $15,000 to help sod the two fields. Future plans call for construction of two basketball courts and picnic facilities and expanding the school’s gymnasium.

The new aquatic center planned for the school-library campus is named as a priority on a list of capital improvement projects for the city’s Community Services Department.

Giant Industries, Inc. announces that it will open a 3,000-square-foot store and six gasoline pumps at Thompson Peak Parkway and McDowell Mountain Ranch Road in 1999.

November 1998 Scottsdale voters vote to expand the boundaries of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve – more than doubling its size. The new boundaries create a 57-square-mile preserve area envisioned to be roughly one-third of the total area of Scottsdale.

The Thompson Peak Parkway Bridge opens, partially funded as a public art project designed by Scottsdale artist Joan Baron.

Sixteen volunteer stewards of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve graduate from a six-week class at Scottsdale Community College.

January 1999 National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) honors McDowell Mountain Ranch with a Silver Award as one of the top five master-planned communities in the country. The community also takes Silver Awards in these categories: sales/information pavilion and direct mail piece/broker promotion. It received a Regional Award for logo design.

McDowell Mountain Ranch again sets an annual record for home sales, with 1998 sales surpassing 1997 by 25%. Total sales for the community exceed 2,300 homes. Robert Charles Lesser & Co. again ranks McDowell Mountain Ranch among the nation’s top 10 master-planned communities for sales volume.

A new 18-hole championship public golf course being built at WestWorld is slated to “tee off” in November 1999. Five of the 18 holes will lie on 75 acres donated by McDowell Mountain Ranch and Shea Homes. Access will be at 105th Street and Sheena Drive.

February 1999 Southbound lanes in the 4.4-mile stretch of Pima Road between Princess Drive and Shea Boulevard are closed for 10 months during construction of the Pima Freeway.

March 1999 Two builder communities at McDowell Mountain Ranch took top honors at the MAME (Major Achievement in Merchandising Excellence) Awards presentation, sponsored by the Home Builder’s Association of Central Arizona, in their respective price categories: The Retreat at One Hundred Hills by Geoffrey Edmunds and Montecito by Greystone Homes.

April 1999 Celebrating its fourth birthday, McDowell Mountain Ranch announces that it is five years ahead of schedule in its projected build-out of 4,475 homes and 10,000 residents.

Two McDowell Mountain Ranch builder communities are named best in their respective price categories at the annual MAME Awards sponsored by the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona – Greystone Homes and Geoffrey H. Edmunds.

A full-service neighborhood shopping center at 105th Street and McDowell Mountain Ranch Road is announced. Three buildings totaling 60,600 square feet of space on the 6.7-acre parcel are expected to open by year-end.

Shea Homes plans to open models for its Sonoran Fairways community by mid-summer. Some home sites adjoin Sanctuary Golf Course at WestWorld.

Sanctuary Golf Course at WestWorld announces that its construction will be under the guidance of the Audubon International Institute in order to create a form of wildlife “sanctuary” and attain the coveted Audubon Signature Status.

June 1999 At the annual homeowners meeting, developers of McDowell Mountain Ranch announce that the homeowners association will be turned over to community residents five years earlier than expected.

August 1999 A ten member committee of homeowners was chosen to oversee the transition from developer to resident management of the HOA.

March 2000 Nine residents are appointed as board members of McDowell Mountain Ranch Community Association.

McDowell Mountain Ranch receives multiple awards at the 2000 MAME (Major Achievement in Merchandising Excellence) Awards presentation sponsored by the Home Builder’s Association of Central Arizona.

Spring 2000 The Sanctuary Golf Course opens for play. The public course features 80 acres of turf, 55 sand bunkers. The 18-hole championship course, designed by Randy Heckenkemper is a 6,624 yard par 71 layout. Seven of the 18 holes lie on 73 acres donated by McDowell Mountain Ranch and Shea Homes. The 10,000 square foot clubhouse features a full service restaurant and a multi-use pavilion for special events.

Fall 2000 Shea Homes opens Sonoran Estates.

Engle Homes opens two model complexes at Sunrise Point.

Geoffrey H. Edmunds opens three model complexes at Cimarron Ridge.

Giant Industries opens a 3000 square feet convenience store with 6 fueling stations.

Desert Canyon Shopping Center opens at the corner of McDowell Mountain Ranch Road and 105th Street. Seven buildings house 60,000 square feet of retail, medical and office space.

McDowell Mountain Ranch is voted the number one in Top 10 Master Planned Communities for 2000 in Ranking Arizona published by Arizona Business Magazine.

March 2001 Engle Homes took top honors at the MAME (Major Achievement in Merchandising Excellence) Awards presentation, sponsored by the Home Builder’s Association of Central Arizona for Best Residential Model Complex – Sunrise Point and Best Corporate Website.

July 2001 The award winning McDowell Mountain Ranch Information Center closes. Since it opened in April 1995, the information center staff made 38,315 presentations to prospective home buyers and distributed over 41,000 marketing packages.

November 2001 A third recreation center, featuring a clubhouse, exercise room, tennis courts, pool and shade ramada opens at Queen’s Wreath Road near 114th Place. The new center is for the exclusive use of residents at the gated communities of Cimarron Hills and Cimarron Ridge by Geoffrey H. Edmunds and Sunrise Point by Engle Homes.

McDowell Mountain Ranch is voted number two in Top 10 Master Planned Communities for 2001 in Ranking Arizona published by Arizona Business Magazine.

November 2001 The McDowell Mountain Ranch Community Association purchases the Information Center to increase space and services for community business and resident activities.

May 2002 A new 57,000 square foot Bashas’ store anchors the first phase of a new shopping center at the corner of Thompson Peak Parkway and Bell Roads. Other notable retailers include Osco, Subway and a selection of specialty stores.

July 2003 The last builder models close. McDowell Mountain Ranch is sold out.
 February 2007 McDowell Mountain Ranch Aquatic Center opens to the public.    

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