Mountain Shadows West. Club West. Can Paradise Valley Be A Model For Unlocking Open Space Gridlock In Phoenix’s Ahwtaukee?

Paradise Valley.  Ahwatukee.  Two great communities.  Miles apart.  Yet much in common.  They both sit at the base of beautiful mountains.  And both have faced the loss of open space and a golf course.

Paradise Valley neighbors and its Town Council figured out a good solution.  The “new” Mountain Shadows at 56th Street & Lincoln is nearly built out.  Once the site of a beloved 337-room hotel and novel golf course issues surrounding its demise, and desire for revitalization seemed intractable.  And they were for years.  Legal posturing.  Complicated politics.  Well-heeled homeowners.  Bankruptcies.  Annexations.

Its complexity makes the current situation involving the closed Club West golf course in Ahwatukee look simple.

Mountain Shadows eventually emerged from acrimony with a preserved but shortened golf course, a new hotel to replace the old one but also some 150 new townhomes and condos where they had never existed before.  But they were necessary to fund the new vision.  Compromise occurred on all sides.  And the result is what we see today.  Beautiful new residences selling for top dollar, a boutique hotel smaller than the original and open space that was preserved. Perhaps most importantly the 118 immediate neighbors of Mountain Shadows no longer have to daily experience a shuttered hotel property and all the problems associated with it.  Today a bustling new neighborhood compliments those that were already there.  Indeed, property values for all have soared and Governor Ducey himself recently moved into one of the older homes.

This is success.

In many ways, Mountain Shadows was a precursor to what we are seeing play out at Club West in Phoenix’s suburb of Ahwatukee.

There a community of some 2500 homes has had to endure the demise of its fairways and greens  Shuttered for several years, a plan was floated last year to re-open the golf course.  But it required the development of about 160 homes in select areas to pay for it. 

A segment of homeowners fought off the idea saying too many existing homes would be impacted, as would their views and the amount of new traffic would be too much.

All of this was heard previously during the debate over Mountain Shadows. But today all we hear about is satisfaction and the rising property values of a municipal blemish vanquished.

A new plan has now emerged for Club West that seems to have merit.  Understanding neighbors’ concerns that the amount of homes proposed before was too much, the Club West golf course’s new owners have proposed turning the course into permanent open space via a park that would have hiking and biking trails, desert landscaping and other elements that would complement the neighborhood.  Interestingly, a part of Mountain Shadows already has such a feature, adopted years previous when it was apparent that 27 holes of golf were not practical.  The abandoned 9 then became a new recreational amenity.

The new proposal for Club West calls for reducing the number of new homes by about half to pay for the multiple millions required for the new park.  It seems a reasonable plan, at least one that all parties can use as a baseline to get to consensus.

At some point, swords need to be put down and peace treaties signed. Whether it’s Northern Ireland, the West Bank, Mountain Shadows or Club West the lessons are the same.  Fighting forever is not the province of progress.  But getting around a table to discuss commonality and common sense is.

Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio has distinct talents for cases such as these.  It’s his district in which Club West is located and it’s time for him to deploy them to bring all parties to the table in search of an everlasting solution that can work for all.  With but two years to go in his lengthy and notable service to Phoenix solving this would add to his legacy, and the quality of life for many.