things to do
2010 best places to live
Things To Do
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Things To Do
2010 Best Places to Live
Stephanie R. Conner
May, 2010, Page 92
Windsor Square was first announced in 1929 with the promise that it would “stand out as one of the very finest home communities in the entire Southwest.” Developers touted features including curbs, sidewalks, ornamental lights and landscaping. In November 1929, the first home – 350 E. Pasadena Avenue – was sold to cowboy artist Jack Van Ryder. About that time, of course, came the 1929 stock market crash, dealing a major blow to the burgeoning neighborhood. Construction stopped, and the cash-strapped developers found themselves in a long legal battle. With the help of FHA financing, it looked like Windsor would re-emerge, but World War II brought construction to a standstill once again. In the wake of the war, however, Windsor benefited when builders sought the business of returning soldiers. Today, Windsor Square is recognized as one of the oldest neighborhoods in Phoenix, and every two years, residents host the Historic Home and Garden Tour, a self-guided walking tour through a handful of the neighborhood’s 260 homes near Third Street and Camelback Road.
The 2,600 acres that lie between Virginia Avenue and McDowell Road from Seventh to 14th streets are known as the Coronado Historic District. The mostly one-story homes in the various subdivisions of the district represent a variety of architectural styles, including bungalow, English Tudor and Spanish Colonial Revival. Many independent restaurants line Seventh Street, Coronado’s western border, including MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain, Drip Coffee Lounge and, of course, Coronado Café. And for comfort food, the Tuck Shop, hidden away on 12th Street, is a relatively new neighborhood favorite.
For all that is new about Tempe – think Town Lake, the lake’s Beach Park, upgrades at Arizona State University and the ever-evolving Mill Avenue – there remains a tribute to the city’s beginnings. Southwest of University Drive and Mill Avenue, the Maple-Ash neighborhood comprises the Gage Addition, Park Tract and College View subdivisions. The Maple-Ash Neighborhood Association boasts 338 homes mostly built in the 1900s through the 1950s. The tree-lined streets of this historic ’hood are narrower than those in more modern areas, giving it a distinct community feel. Homes throughout have unique facades – perhaps because they weren’t all built at the same time – meaning the neighborhood lacks the typical tract home vibe. At Ninth Street and Ash sits a neighborhood treasure: Casey Moore’s Oyster House. And, surrounded by new developments, those who live here have their pick of modern amenities – dining and retail shopping along Mill Avenue, Arizona State University and more – within walking distance.
One of the most iconic historic neighborhoods in the Valley lies between Seventh and Central avenues, from McDowell to Thomas roads. Willo Grocery and My Florist Café on McDowell are mainstays of this historic ’hood, which owes its start to J.P. Holcomb. In 1878, he used a Homestead Patent to acquire the southern part of the neighborhood and eight years later used the Timber Culture Land Patent to buy the northern area. In the 1920s, 41 bungalow-style homes were built, followed in the ’30s by homes in a range of architectural styles reflecting the Tudor Revival, Greek Revival, American Colonial Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival and Pueblo Revival. In later years, homes were built in the ranch style that had risen in popularity. Willo is also well known for its annual home tour, held every February.
Village Grove 1-6.
If you’ve lived in the Valley for 10 years or 10 months, you probably have a vision of a typical Phoenix home: stucco, tile roofs, beiges and reds on the exterior and that brown carpet. Scottsdale’s Village Grove stands out for its historic character and its classically modern feel. Arthur and Charles Schreiber are credited with designing many of the homes in this neighborhood, built by Allied Construction Company. This L-shaped community near McDowell and Granite Reef roads spans 72 acres and includes more than 250 homes. Dating from the late ’50s, the simple California ranch-style houses are slightly larger than the typical post-war Scottsdale home. The floor plans also are recognized for their emphasis on indoor-outdoor living (you’ll note rear family rooms that open onto the backyard, for example). Views of Papago Park were part of the builder’s marketing campaign when the homes were first built. Today, residents also enjoy close proximity to the varied amenities of downtown Scottsdale.
Ahwatukee Farmers’ Market
48th Street and Warner Road.
Here in Ahwatukee, you’ll find reasonably priced condos and homes (many with golf course views) and all the amenities for a healthy life. Several restaurants, coffee shops, and retail and grocery stores in close proximity help make this Phoenix borough walkable – when weather permits. Curbside Cyclery is a hub for cyclists and holds Saturday rides; the Ahwatukee Golf Club and the Swim & Tennis Center serve sports enthusiasts; and South Mountain Park Preserve is a five-minute drive away. Healthy eaters stock up at the farmers’ market held here every Sunday, and Hillside Spot Café is quickly becoming a neighborhood favorite for its locavore menu. A couple of miles south on Chandler Boulevard, Pomegranate Café dishes up fresh, organic, vegetarian fare.
In addition to the landscapes of the Usery Mountains and Tonto National Forest, this northeast Mesa neighborhood offers a number of opportunities for those who want to stay fit. Here, an 18-hole championship golf course awaits. Plus, Boulder Mountain Parke, Sonoran Heights Parke and Desert Foothills Parke offer 28 acres of outdoor recreation, including lighted basketball and volleyball courts, large grassy play areas, softball and soccer fields, playsets for children, and walking and biking areas. The Las Sendas Tennis Centers, the Boulder Mountain swimming facility and the Trailhead Athletic Club and Spa are available, as well as the community’s miles of natural desert and paved pathways for walking, biking or inline skating.
Tempe Town Lake and Beach Park.
It’s been more than 10 years since Town Lake opened, and since then, a number of condo complexes have sprouted up along its shores. For residents of Grigio, Hayden Ferry Lakeside, Bridgeview and more, this area is rife with healthy-living options. Head to the marina for opportunities to kayak, ride paddleboats or take rowing classes. Take advantage of the pathways around the lake for a long run or walk. (Many weekends a year, you’ll find charity runs that launch from the park, and each November, you’ll see hard-core athletes competing in Ironman Arizona.) Then, stroll to downtown Tempe and check out the Tempe farmers’ market, which offers local fare daily, and an array of healthy dining options.
McDowell Mountain Ranch.
This north Scottsdale master-planned community includes more than 4,000 homes; plenty of retail, office and commercial space; and two recreation centers. For active residents of all ages, it’s hard not to stay healthy with amenities like a 5-acre park and a community center with a swimming pool, basketball court, tennis courts and a sand volleyball court. For naturalists, the community’s trail system offers access to the mountain preserve for great hiking. And the city’s McDowell Mountain Ranch Park & Aquatic Center features a skate park, soccer fields and a lap pool. Listings at press time showed homes ranging from the $200s for condos to more than $2 million for 5,000-square-foot homes on the large lots.
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