Desert resort fits buyers to a tee
‘Social club’ within upscale Arizona project
NORTH SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.
Albertans looking for a second place to call home in Phoenix can check two must-haves off their wish list — weather and golf.
And with a near-par loonie and reduced housing prices, finding that perfect place in the sun seems a sure thing.
But there’s one wish no one guarantees and everyone wants — good neighbours.
The residents at Terravita Golf and Country Club in North Scottsdale know it’s the people that make their community such a desirable place to live.
Set against the unspoiled Sonoran Desert near historic Cave Creek in the northeast valley, the 1,380-home community sprawls over 333 hectares of lush desert landscape, surrounded by mountainous terrain, giant feature boulders and that ever-blue sky.
Built in 1994, Terravita was the first development in the region to bring affordable housing to a high-end, guard-gated community with private golf club.
“It’s a beautiful location and a well-run community, but it’s the people that make it so special,” says Carolyn Hetrick, a country club board member who bought in 1999.
She’s giving a walking tour of the golf and country club amenities with Kathy Nelson, another longstanding resident.
“It’s a very open and welcoming community,” agrees Nelson, as she points out the new floating floors for yoga and Pilates in the recently renovated fitness facility.
She uses two words to sum up the community’s culture: “Camp Terravita. Because people are having fun doing things all the time.”
Homeowners bought out developer Del Webb in 1998, and the golf and country clubs are separately owned and operated by members.
Fifty per cent of the 3,000 members are snowbirds, while 35 per cent are full-time retirees. Membership in the country club is mandatory with a home purchase, but a golf membership is optional.
“This is a very social club in an upscale community, and the non-pretentious camaraderie is a main draw for a lot of people,” says general manager Tom Forbes, who came to Terravita four years ago after managing similar facilities in Arizona and
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Forbes says the resort-style community has not been as affected by the economic downturn as some Phoenix communities.
“We are in a strong financial position,” he says, adding its golf course will be paid off completely in January 2014.
With some communities struggling with debt, smart homebuyers are placing a community’s solvency and sustaining home values high on their checklist.
Years ago, says Forbes, the first questions were always about the golf course and the restaurant.
“Today, they want to know about hidden costs — if there’s an elephant in the closet. People want good value for their money and the value remains more stable here than a lot of other communities.”
He says Terravita completed $1 million US in upgrades five years ago and paid it off in three years.
The 34,000-square-foot country club underwent $400,000 US of renovations four years ago and $750,000 US in upgrades to the health and fitness centre were completed last October.
Outdoor amenities include six lighted tennis courts and an Olympic-size lap pool with beach entrance and a hot tub.
Green initiatives by energyconscious community members — such as a solar panel system to heat the 4,000-square-foot pool — are now paying off.
Forbes says they haven’t increased dues for the last three years and are still putting capital money aside for future renovations.
Karey and Murray Koch of Edmonton were among Terravita’s first residents in 1995, attracted by the golf and the area.
Her husband, 83, plays golf four times a week and Karey, 73, belongs to the ladies league. “Private golf clubs can be hard to break into, but when I joined, it felt like I belonged forever.”
Steve Mallory, director of golf since 2000, says the ladies club has a nine-hole and an 18-hole league and is one of the most active among the North Scottsdale interleague clubs.
Membership is capped at 325, with no more than 60 golfers from outside the community. At present, there are 317 members, 30 of them from outside Terravita.
The award-winning championship course with mountain views from every hole was ranked one of the state’s top 10 private golf clubs by Best of Ari- zona Business Magazine in 2011.
Jim Gee, 69, and his wife Agnes bought in Terravita in 1995, two years after the golf course opened. He golfs five days a week with a group he’s been playing with for over a decade.
“I can’t explain it. We’ve owned this home for 16 years, and it feels more like home than our condo in Edmonton. I hate to leave, and look forward to getting back,” says Gee.
Terravita has 45 homes for sale within its 24 neighbourhoods, ranging from 1,500 square feet to 3,800 square feet. Prices start at $300,000 US.
Terravita Golf and Country Club is an award-winning golf course in the heart of the desert foothills.
A clear blue desert sky hangs over the outdoor pool at the resort.
The lush Arizona desert landscape surrounds the clubhouse.