Apache Junction is on the cusp of a major change, and city officials are not just going to sit back and watch it happen.
Beginning this fall, the Arizona State Land Department will auction off chunks of desert south of the city, and developers will be scrambling to throw their hats in the ring.
“It’s the municipal equivalent of a coming-of-age story,” City Manager George Hoffman said.
Today, Hoffman and other Pinal County officials will lay out how they’d like to create a design to maintain the equilibrium between the rural landscape accented by the Superstition Mountains and a more modern, urban community.
“I think the environment, the views of the mountain are important to us,” said Mayor Douglas Coleman. “We do want the growth here. We believe that it is a benefit to us to add growth. But we don’t want to take over the rest of the free world.”
A total of 1,650 acres of the state-owned Lost Dutchman Heights area will go up for auction in September. Another 6,100 acres will be auctioned over the next several years, coming to roughly 12 square miles all within Apache Junction.
Eventually, the entire 275-square-mile Superstition Vistas property will be sold, although this is still decades away, said deputy land use commissioner Richard Hubbard. This will pave the way for a brand-new section of the Apache Junction community that could be the future home to as many as 1 million people.
The city has been working with the state on how the future developments will be designed. Right now they are creating a master plan ordinance to help manage infrastructure, land use and design. Apache Junction’s proximity to U.S. 60 puts the city in a “first-rate” position for development, Hoffman said.
Officials will reveal that plan today at a Scottsdale event sponsored by the Valley Partnership, a nonprofit for responsible development.
Apache Junction is redeveloping its downtown district with an “artsy” flair, and wants to see that reflected in new developments.
“Apache Junction has had a negative connotation as being a trailer park community,” admitted Amy Malloy, assistant to the city manager. “Some of the things that are really important to people are a good education, a low crime rate, the availability of affordable housing. We don’t want to overlook those things as we work on these sexy projects.”