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The future of South Scottsdale, Arizona


My latest journey is to discover more about South Scottsdale, and oddly enough it seems to make sense for me to start with its future.

I just spoke to one of my best PhD (Phoenix History Detective) on South Scottsdale, and I think I'm starting to assemble some facts. The first thing that I wanted to know is where exactly IS South Scottsdale? Of course, you could look at a map and divide the city by north and south, or you could look at some report written by some official, but those things never work for me. I wanted to know what someone who knows the area calls it. This wasn't easy, as my friend is a cheerful, talkative fellow who likes to tell stories, but he put up with my interruptions over and over again, as we're old friends. He's lived in South Scottsdale for a long time and cares about the area, so I trust him. I wanted to see it from his point of view.
To my surprise, he defined South Scottsdale as going as far north as Indian Bend Road. That is, where the Arizona Canal cuts Scottsdale in half north and south at Hayden, well north of Camelback Road. And I guess it makes sense, although I'd always thought of South Scottsdale as being the area south of Old Town Scottsdale and north of Tempe. I asked if he liked the term So Sco, and he said no, although I couldn't really get a reason out of him - and I interrupted many, many times. I'll try again, I promise.

Anywhere, the future of South Scottsdale is like the future of any area that is considered "adjacent" to an area where property values are super high. My first experience with this was in California, when areas were called "Beverly Hills adjacent". In Phoenix, there's the area that's adjacent to Arcadia, which I just learned is called "Arcadia Lite". My neighborhood, which is near the Sahuaro Ranch, I always thought of as "Arrowhead Adjacent". And the idea is for the high resale value of an area to spill over to the an adjacent area, which just means right nearby, but not quite there.

Of course, people can argue back and forth as to what is, and isn't adjacent. From my point of view, Old Town isn't adjacent, it's doing just fine. As I travel south, I see the clear signs of "adjacent" on Scottsdale Road - that is, not quite as prosperous.

The future of South Scottsdale is very bright, at least for the land. As Real Estate agents say, they aren't making any more land, and it's all about location. Being between Tempe, which has lately been fabulously successful (have you been there in the last few years?!), and north Scottsdale, is a good place to be. And that's what worries me about South Scottsdale.

If you're like me, you always just drove north and south on Scottsdale, or Hayden, or Pima Road. I lived in Tempe and I visited a client at McCormick Ranch in the 1980s. I never had any reason to go through the neighborhoods of South Scottsdale, so I was surprised at how wonderful they are. Many of the homes go back to the 1950s and 60s, and are ranch style homes on nice wide streets. And as a person interested in Phoenix history, I really love seeing this.

Of course, times have changed and those old houses might be historically interesting, but most people need more bedrooms, more bathrooms, more garage space. I'm told that Scottsdale doesn't allow tear-downs, but I've seen variances before. People need space to live, I understand, and that means bigger houses, like the "McMansions" that I see in beautiful old neighborhoods in Santa Monica. Yes, it's a free country, people can do what they want, even if it makes neighborhoods ugly. I'm sure they're good people.

So the future of South Scottsdale may be a transition to enormous wealth for people, and the complete extinction of these wonderful old houses. In a perfect world, people would move into those old houses and preserve the neighborhoods. And yes, I believe in a perfect world.

Thank you for history adventuring with me.

Image at the top of this post: Scottsdale ad from 1913.

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