South to el Dorado, the next Ahwatukee
Aug. 28, 2004 12:00 AM

In the glory days of this country's westward expansion, Horace Greeley petitioned immigrants with the words "Move west young man, move west." If he currently lived in Ahwatukee Foothills, he might say, "Move south young man, move south."

Seems like there's a mini-migration toward that new planned community outside the town of Maricopa called Rancho el Dorado. If you look at the overhead view of that place, you get the feeling you're looking at a snapshot of Ahwatukee in its infancy. Neat little neighborhoods designed around a golf course arranged along a loop layout. Where have I seen that before? Warner-Elliot loop maybe?

Some old-timers in Ahwatukee Foothills have seen the value of their homes appreciate over the years and are selling out of the aging abode for new digs in el Dorado. They take the equity earned in the old house and apply it to the new house, and they're in a new home for not much money.

Granted it's a little farther down the freeway from Ahwatukee Foothills, but not that much farther. Amenities are in the early stages, first grocery store and strip mall currently opening, etc. Ahwatukee Foothills' first grocery store took more years to open after its inception than did this community's new Bashas'.

So you put up with a few inconveniences at first and before you know it the value of your home escalates. Example: Gene and Cindy Werth purchased their Ahwatukee Foothills home 26 years ago in the Wood Brothers subdivision, just north of Elliot Road. Recently, they purchased a new home in Rancho el Dorado and in the five months since they put down their deposit, the purchase price from the builder has increased $26,000.

The new house, which is bigger than the old one and on the golf course, cost $174,000 at the time they signed the papers. After selling the old Ahwatukee Foothills house for $169,000, they get into the new place for the $5,000 difference.

One must have a bit of the pioneering spirit to move to the outskirts of town and be surrounded by all the construction, but there could be a payoff if you stay there for 26 years as well. I asked Cindy what it was that drew them to this new community. She said they would see it on their way to San Diego all the time. And as far as being out of the way, she said that it takes only 18 minutes to get from the new place to Elliot Road, so it's not that bad.

Cindy and Gene began looking for a new home because they felt Ahwatukee Foothills was getting too big. They've met other Ahwatukee Foothills couples doing the same thing, selling out of Ahwatukee Foothills and moving to Maricopa and she adds, "Everyone I've talked to just loves it."

French Renaissance author Voltaire called his fictitious, best-of-all-possible worlds, "El Dorado." His character Candide spent a lifetime in search of it, not realizing it was in our desert southwest.

RV lot plan set south of Ahwatukee

Betty Beard
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 30, 2004 12:00 AM

Pecos Road has provided a stark boundary between the stucco homes and tile roofs of Ahwatukee Foothills and the wide-open desert and farms on the Gila River Indian Community lands to the south.

Now an Ahwatukee Foothills man has negotiated private leases with some Gila River residents and is about to start the first commercial development immediately south of Ahwatukee Foothills.

His project is also significant because it will include badly needed space to store large motorhomes.

Rande Leonard said it took years of patience and friendly negotiations to arrange a 60-year lease of 27 acres with 23 allottees or landowners - all women - on the reservation.

"These are women who need the money. They had land that was worth a lot of money, and yet they were poor. All 23 will get (monthly) checks. Some are for about $80 and some $300 or so, but it's real money," he said.

In addition to the boat and RV storage lot, he plans to build storage lockers, a gas station, convenience store and other businesses south of Pecos Road at 32nd Street. Some of the businesses will open before year's end.

It took him several years to get the project off the ground because of the complexities of negotiating with the group, the 2001 terrorist attacks scared off his first group of investors, and because he had to work with Phoenix to get 32nd Street extended south.

His project is also subject to building and other regulations of the Gila River Indian Community and to its 6 percent sales tax.

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