Which Valley neighborhoods will move to the head of the class in 2017? Find out in our yearbook-style overview of the best places to live now, from jock-friendly family communities to the historic ’hood most likely to succeed.

Hot Neighborhoods 2017

Written by Wynter Holden Category: Lifestyle Issue: May 2017
Group Free
La Grande Orange, inside and out
La Grande Orange, inside and out
Renderings of an Arcadia Lite plan offered by Blue Sky Homes
 

Most Popular: Arcadia Lite
Median Price Range: $410,000-$450,000

“You can fall in love at first sight with a place as with a person.”
— Alec Waugh, British novelist

The proverbial prom queen of Phoenix neighborhoods, Arcadia is perfumed with orange blossoms every spring – a throwback to the area’s early days as a citrus grove. The bad news? Homes average around $3.2 million, and new listings are scarce. “The livability and quality of life standards are off the charts,” says Nick Blue, owner of local developer Blue Sky Homes, citing the area’s “intelligent urbanization and city planning.”

Follow the floral scent south across the canal to Arcadia Lite and Lower Arcadia, however, and you’ll find an eclectic mix of midsize 20th century homes and McMansions in walking distance of trendy eateries like The Grind, Crudo and perennially packed pizzeria La Grande Orange. “Many of the original homes in Arcadia Lite... offered a tight and confined kitchen space with little to no storage and little in the way of covered parking,” Blue says. While you can still scoop up one of those vintage charmers for around $280,000-$350,000, developers have focused on giving East Phoenix’s trendsetters modern amenities like three-car garages and open-floor concepts. Case in point: The Villas at Baker Park, a 44-home gated community set on the former grounds of Baker Nursery. Starting price: $700,000.

• Homes sell for 97.7 percent of the asking price, on average, compared to 80 percent in the Valley proper
• Has a Big Lebowski-esque watering hole called The Bar
• Near San Francisco tech firm Zenreach’s upcoming Biltmore Corridor office

Terri Hunter pops some bubbly at her Scottsdale Entertainment District home
Inside a residential space at Andaz Resort
 

Life of the Party: Scottsdale Entertainment District
Median Price Range: $240,000-$280,000

“Partying is not a sane way to spend money, but it’s fun.”  
— Markus Persson, Swedish video game programmer

Most of Phoenix rolls up the proverbial red carpet by 9 p.m. Meanwhile, Scottsdale’s youthful, stylish jet set is still rocking out at Stetson Drive’s clubs until the drinks dry up and it’s time to Uber home. To keep up with them, local developers are frantically erecting pricey condo complexes with trendy one-word names like ENVY and Inspire in the nightlife district surrounding Scottsdale Road between Camelback and Indian School. Their purpose? Providing comfortable, chic spaces that trust fund babies and future CEOs can be proud of. Even a small one-bedroom is out of reach for the $30,000 millionaires rocking Mommy’s discarded Lexus, but that’s not the demographic this area is trying to attract. “The Old Town area is really booming, and we’re seeing an influx of smaller boutique communities popular with young professionals,” says agent Andrew Birss of ScottsdaleCondoMania.com. According to Birss, you can score a unit in an older building for as low as $200,000-$250,000 right now, with larger units in high-amenity new builds such as Optima, ENVY and Inspire priced in the millions. 

• Condo prices jumped an average of $32,000 from December 2015 to late 2016
• Near the new $75 million Andaz Resort
• ENVY owners score permanent VIP access at select Valley clubs

Snacks and drinks at Roosevelt Row’s Jobot
Rendering of UNION at Roosevelt
 

Most Creative: Roosevelt Row
Median Price Range: $390,000-$430,000

“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.”
— Pablo Picasso

It’s the classic gentrification tale: Artsy girl meets affordable ’hood and they fall in love. Artsy girl makes the area trendy. Young professionals move in and price the artsy girl out. RoRo is in the midst of this Pygmalion-like drama, making now a perfect time to move into the funky, vintage-meets-modern home of Downtown’s renowned First Friday Art Walk. The 300-unit Broadstone Roosevelt, 150-unit Portland on the Park complex and shipping container apartments called theOSCAR are expected to open in 2017, making way for hundreds of new residents. “New developments are under construction now and many more are on the way, so the area will only continue to get better,” says HomeSmart agent David Otto.

Luckily, RoRo still offers flexibility while the area is in transition. You can score a cheap, albeit likely run-down, bungalow west of Seventh Avenue for $175,000-$250,000, while newer condos start in the $170,000s and go up to $1.2 million for a three-bedroom penthouse. Venture east of Central Avenue to find Craftsman bungalows and stately four-plex manor homes. According to Otto, RoRo’s single-family houses are skyrocketing in price due to their rarity. “A large three-bedroom, two-bath Craftsman-style can be found priced around $500,000,” he says. “And the prices go up from there.”

• Downtown will get its first grocery store – a Fry’s at Block 32 – in 2018
• Speakeasy swing dance nights every third Thursday at DeSoto Central Market
• Grid Bike rental station on Fifth and Roosevelt streets
 


Parkside at Anthem resident Jodi Hale watches over her boys at the community lake

Miss Congeniality: Anthem Parkside
Median Price Range: $144,990-$259,990
“Don’t wait for people to be friendly. Show them how.” — Anonymous

Strolling through Parkside is like taking H.G. Wells’ fictional time machine back to simpler days. Residents wave and greet travelers. Couples walk their dogs along tree-shaded greenbelts. Kids pretend to be mermaids in the splash pad. The small-town, Midwestern feel is what attracts families to this popular Anthem neighborhood. “There are an unlimited number of things for my family to do,” says Jodi Hale, who moved to the area with her three sons in 2005. “My kids have access to the Adventure Park with playgrounds, basketball and volleyball courts, and bike and walking trails, as well as over 30 neighborhood parks.”

Situated at the foot of Daisy Mountain in the extreme northern Valley, Parkside includes about 7,000 homes, as well as a 63-acre community park and numerous hiking trails. Around the holidays, community members become one big happy family, hunting for eggs at the annual Anthem Days festival each spring, listening to concerts in the park in May or waving flags in the Veterans Day parade.

“I love how Anthem provides a sense of community for residents,” Hale says. “Especially with annual events such as Music in May and the community light displays over the winter holidays.” On second Saturdays, her family can often be found hanging out with neighbors and listening to live music on the Anthem Civic Building terrace.

• Anthem’s crime rate is 26 percent lower than the national average
• Picked by Parenting magazine as one of the best places to raise a family
• Has a K-8 school onsite

The historic Sunnyslope “S”

Most Eclectic: North Mountain/Sunnyslope Foothills
Median Price Range: $230,000-$270,000

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”
— Coco Chanel, fashion designer

Sunnyslope is a study in contrasts. Its first subdivision was founded in 1911 by area homesteader William R. Norton, whose daughter came up with the town’s name. Over the next 100 years, the town became a patchwork quilt of architecture, from Wendell Burnette’s space-age Dialogue House to the infamous Sunnyslope Rock Garden, a fantasy world (read: front yard nightmare) of glass-studded concrete mosaics. Jenna Alexander of 50 States Realty got a first look inside Sunnyslope’s historic architecture when she helped a client purchase a mid-century home there two years ago.

“The area has character. Some of the houses still have their original windows, but with modern touches like polished concrete floors,” she says. Far enough away from the hubbub of Downtown, the foothills area north of Dunlap Road includes many older, more affordable bungalows from the 1960s-1970s – including a few examples of two-story “upside-down” homes with the main living areas located upstairs. The views of North Mountain are lovely at sunset, especially along East Foothill Drive, where backyards meet the craggy greenstone hills.

• Within biking distance of the Arizona Canal Path
• Has its own local brewery, North Mountain Brewing, on Dunlap
• The iconic “S” painted on the side of Sunnyslope Mountain was awarded historic status

 

 

Most Athletic: Arrowhead Ranch
Median Price Range: $320,000-$360,000

“One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than 50 preaching it.”
— Knute Rockne, Notre Dame football coach

Tucked between Adobe Dam and New River in Glendale, Arrowhead Ranch is an epicenter for true sportsmen (and women) – i.e. those who prefer to participate in games and physical activities rather than just watch. “It’s an older community, so people are gutting the homes and bringing them up to modern cosmetic standards,” says former resident Nate Martinez, a real estate agent with RE/MAX Professionals. “Once someone moves in, though, they tend to stay.”

According to Martinez, who has more than 25 years of experience selling homes in the Phoenix area, the Arrowhead Lakes subdivision is especially appealing to outdoorsy types, while the newer Sierra Verde offers popular hiking trails. The community includes two golf courses and a fitness club, with easy access to gym chains Underground Fitness and Mountainside Fitness. Catch San Diego Padres or Seattle Mariners games at nearby Peoria Sports Complex, then warm up your pitching arm on the center’s 12 practice fields. Bikers hitting the 5.9-mile Deem Hills Circumference Trail can often be found tuning up their BMXs at Bicycle Depot of Arizona on Beardsley Road and 59th Avenue, while the strength training set has no shortage of CrossFit options on the community’s west side.

• 15-minute drive to University of Phoenix Stadium
• Free classes at the Arrowhead Fitness Club
• Borders the 1,185-acre Thunderbird Conservation Park
Baseball fans at Peoria Sports Complex
 

 

 

The Farm at Agritopia

Most Likely to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse: Agritopia
Median Price Range: $335,000-$375,000

“If you believe you can accomplish everything by ‘cramming’ at the eleventh hour, by all means, don’t lift a finger now. But you may think twice about beginning to build your ark once it has already started raining.”
— Max Brooks, The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead

Founded in 2000 by engineer/restaurateur Joe Johnston, Agritopia’s 160-acre planned community boasts a level of sustainability and self-sufficiency that’s unparalleled in the Valley. We’re talking community gardens, parks, a produce stand and a 12-acre commercial farm, schools and a retro burger joint tucked inside Johnston’s childhood home – basically everything you need to survive post-apocalypse, minus a gun store (although this is Arizona, so just drive a town over). “I came here for the sense of community,” says resident Kelly Shaw, who relocated to Agritopia with her husband and two sons in October 2016. “You see everyone on their front porches socializing. It feels safe, like anyone can knock on their neighbor’s door asking for eggs or a cup of sugar.”

Yep, it’s Leave it to Beaver for the 21st century, with literal white picket fences and helpful friendly neighbors. There’s even a crafters’ market, Barnone, for locals to showcase their homemade goods. Though the community pays for outside water and utilities, we’re pretty sure these creative residents are up enough on the re-skilling movement to put together their own solar panels, water tower and defensive wall should the walking dead ever invade the city.

And unlike other communities, you wouldn’t have to worry about some Negan-type plundering half your supplies. “I love how much we support one another,” says Shaw.

• Urban chickens provide fertilizer for the gardens (and act as an emergency food source)
• Many of Agritopia’s 450 homes have basements (think underground bunkers)
• “Pay on your honor” system at The Farm Store (so old school)

 

 

Biggest Smarty Pants: Chandler Boardwalk
Median Price Range: $220,000-$260,000

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
— William Butler Yeats

Though everyone talks big about Scottsdale and Paradise Valley schools, the Boardwalk area of Chandler zip code 85224 – from Elliot to Ray roads north-south, and the I-10 to Alma School Road east-west – includes more than a dozen top-rated public, private and charter schools. There’s Great Hearts Chandler Preparatory Academy for liberal arts education and character-building, Paragon Science Academy for budding Neil deGrasse Tysons and The Goddard School for little Einsteins, says agent Mindy Jones Nevarez of Amy Jones Real Estate Group at Keller Williams Integrity First.

According to Nevarez, popular subdivisions include Andersen Springs, Sandstone Place and the Tre Allagio and Via de Cielo condominiums. Many boast social activities for children and adults – for example, residents of Lakeside at Andersen Springs condos can sip and socialize at monthly wine meetings.

• Home values have risen 7.6 percent in the last year compared to 5.9 percent statewide
• Students can take free practice tests at Chandler Sunset Library
• Has a lakeside java joint called Coffee Rush

Techie coffee date at Coffee Rush in Chandler
 

 

The 400-feet “Mural of Unity” in Maryvale

Most Inspirational: Maryvale
Median Price Range: $110,000-$150,000

“I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life. It’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference. Gonna make it right.”
— Michael Jackson

The dark horse of our ’hoods, Maryvale is Phoenix’s oldest master-planned community and one of the most densely populated areas of Phoenix. It’s also pretty expansive, around 35 square miles, with its main corridor spanning 27th to 99th avenues and Camelback Road to the I-10, north and south. The area is a mix of Latino-focused businesses, pockets of original 1950s-1960s ranches and newer builds like the desirable D.R. Horton’s new Vinsanto community at 75th Avenue and McDowell Road. According to real estate agent Jenna Alexander, Maryvale is a prime spot for investors. “They’re looking at these infill areas, and predicting that eventually all of Phoenix will undergo beautification. It’s an exciting time,” she says.

Like Judd Nelson’s character, John Bender, in The Breakfast Club, Maryvale has a bad rep. But, also like Bender, this part of town is in the midst of reform. Thanks in part to a million-dollar Neighborhood Safety Initiative partnership between Grand Canyon University and the City of Phoenix, the area known as the “Canyon Corridor” just north of Maryvale saw a 23.6 percent decrease in violent crime in 2015.

• Home values increased 14.3 percent last year
• Near Ak-Chin Pavilion and the newly renovated GCU Maryvale Golf Course
• The area’s diversity is reflected in its “Mural of Unity” on 75th Avenue

 

 

Cutest Couple: Verrado and Buckeye Proper
Median Sales Price: $277,750 vs. $188,000

“He was the toast to her butter.”
— Nicholas Sparks, The Lucky One

Verrado and the rest of Buckeye are the Green Acres of Phoenix couplings, with the same oppositional pull that drew alt-rock siren Gwen Stefani to country crooner Blake Shelton. Verrado’s Main Street could be a movie set with its tree-lined streets and iconic clock tower. “It’s very quaint, like where your grandmother grew up,” says Nate Martinez of RE/MAX Professionals. “It’s a little removed from the rest of Phoenix, but the freeway access makes it a prime location.”

Little ones are likely to be found neck-deep at Heritage Swim Park’s resort pool, while Mom planks her way to perfection at The Center on Main’s fitness facility. Meanwhile, Grandpa has his own digs nearby at Victory, a 55-plus community with a spa, onsite vineyard and the hot new Vic Bar + Kitchen.

Buckeye proper, with its wood-shingled Monroe Avenue stores and stucco homesteads, still has a bit of 1888 to dust off. While there are dozens of master-planned communities from the likes of Beazer and Maracay homes, there are also vacant lots and older stucco ranches for sale – with plenty of room for a bucking bronc or two.

• Verrado’s theft rate is 80 percent below the national average
• Buckeye has its own municipal airport
• The area also sits over the largest untapped aquifer in Arizona

Cues and brews at Waddell’s Longhorn Corral
 

 

Rendering of Skye on the Motor Mile

Most Likely to Succeed: Motor Mile
Median Price Range: $220,000-$260,000

“To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.”
— Stephen Covey, author and public speaker

You can still pick up a pretty sweet pre-owned Porsche on McDowell Road just east of Papago Park, but the drag’s heyday as an auto-retail hotspot ended when Acura and others decamped for North Scottsdale. In their stead: a spate of new single-family and multi-family developments, seductively poised between the protected wilderness of Papago and the emerging culture of South Scottsdale. “The price points are great, and at the end of the day you’re getting a Scottsdale address,” mortgage specialist Rob Binkley says. “It’s gentrifying and coming up.”

Skye on McDowell, from national development titan K. Hovnanian Homes, will include 55 single-family homes in addition to 81 semi-detached units. With more dealerships leaving for a new auto row on Salt River tribal land, the future looks bright for a residential makeover of SoSco.

• Papago Plaza is getting a complete $8 million revamp and merchandizing makeover
• Nearby ASU SkySong is the Valley’s most exciting public-private multi-use space
• Hiking and biking just a half-mile away at Pagago

 

 

Best Dressed: PV South
Median Price Range: $1 million-$1.2 million

“Fashion fades. Only style remains the same.”
— Coco Chanel

Technically split between the Biltmore Heights and Camelback East neighborhoods, this stretch of secluded ranch-style lots and hill-straddling mansions evinces the classic desert-chic “look” – lawns are few, cacti are many and the meandering mid-century streets have a genteel pacing. It’s Paradise Valley, but not quite Paradise Valley, as the occasional sub-$1 million home listing – some modest-size ranches even get down into the $700,000s – demonstrates.

“People love the area, especially as the Valley gets more central and trends back into Phoenix,” Binkley says. “You’re closer to the action than Paradise Valley, and it might be even less expensive than Arcadia, which now equals PV in terms of pricing. Plus, acre lots.”

Located north of Camelback Road from 32nd to 44th streets, roughly to McDonald Drive, the neighborhood is our best bet to maintain its fashionable status in the years to come.

• All the cultural hooks of 40th and 44th streets are right there, including restaurants Chelsea’s Kitchen, CRUjiente Tacos and The Henry
• Close to Phoenix Country Day School
• Homes leapt 7 percent in value over 2015

Phoenix Country Day School spirit
 

 

Photography by
Chad Cocquyt, Jim David, Wenhui Dong, Mirelle Inglefield & Brandon Sullivan