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The History of Desert Ridge…
The area known today as Desert Ridge is still very indicative of the land on which it was built; in part due to careful planning efforts to ensure as much of the natural landscape was integrated into the community as possible. At present, it sits like an urban oasis surrounded by the expansive Sonoran desert landscape which can only be found by venturing to the outskirts of the Phoenix area. There are 13 washes within Desert Ridge (each named after a county in Arizona). These washes often briefly transform into fast-flowing reservoirs when the area experiences heavy rainfall, especially during the summer monsoons.
Prior to any development, evidence suggest the area was used for cattle grazing, as this can be seen by the effect on the natural vegetation as well as hoof traffic. Further disturbance was caused to the land by the use of recreational vehicles traversing the site.
In 1991, In a tri-party agreement between the State Land Department, the City of Phoenix and the Master Developer (F.K.A. Northeast Phoenix Partners), the Desert Ridge Specific Plan was adopted in a unique public/private relationship created through a planning permit issued under the State of Arizona’s Urban Land Act. The original Master Plan called for 5,700 acres and approximately 20,000 households. The plan reduced the buildable area by removing the wash areas and planned trails. The parcels of land on which Desert Ridge lies were auctioned off one-by-one by the State Land Department in what are known as super blocks.
Between 1999 and 2007, there were 12 builders, each with their own land in various stages of development. As the first developments began in 1999, the closest gas stations and grocery stores were located miles away on Bell Road. The Desert Ridge Marketplace opened in 2001 providing much needed access to services & retail.
In 2002, the Loop 202 opened to the east, completing the ringed highway network surrounding northern Phoenix and greatly improving access to the area. That same year the American Express Regional Campus opened, shortly followed by the completion of the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa; which, in conjunction with its golf courses, is a centerpiece to the Desert Ridge community.
In 2004 the first homes were sold in Aviano, followed by the sale of the first homes in Fireside in 2007. In late 2008 Phase I of High Street opened, a mixed-use shopping & entertainment district formerly known as City North. Despite the poor economic climate, the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) opened its doors in 2010 followed by Phase I of High Street later that year.
During the great recession, auctions of land ceased from 2007 until 2013 when the southwest corner of Pinnacle Peak Road and Tatum Blvd was auctioned off by the State Dept. By this time there was also renewed development at the Toscana condominiums and the 56 North apartment project. Bella Monte and Fireside were both nearing their final build-out numbers.
Most recently, in 2016 the Sanctuary at Desert Ridge development broke ground and is currently in the build out phase, as are the final buildings of the Villages at Aviano condominiums. In March of this year, Ryan Companies broke ground on the $9M Banner Health Clinic. The Desert Ridge Marketplace is currently undergoing a $15M renovation.
1990 “Desert Ridge Specific Plan” Document