Mesa prepares sale of old orange grove The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Mesa prepares sale of old orange grove

Mesa prepares sale of old orange grove
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By Jim Walsh
Tribune Staff Writer

Mesa plans to sell a 13-acre site that would turn an orange grove with stunning mountain views into an upscale neighborhood with close proximity to the Red Mountain Freeway.

The land was purchased as a 33-acre site by the city in 1989 for its water potential with an aquifer located underground. The city will retain a seven-acre piece for development of a future well.

The remaining 19 acres was previously sold by to the Arizona Department of Transportation as part of the freeway’s right-of-way.

“There is a lot of value to it because of it’s location. It’s a flair that is unprecedented,’’ Councilman Mark Freeman said.

The property is north of the freeway on Thomas Road between Gilbert Road and Val Vista Drive.

It is also about a half-mile from Lehi Crossing, where a monument honors Mesa’s pioneers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who arrived in two groups, in 1877 and in 1878.

Freeman, whose family dates back to the original pioneers, said the land offers unobstructed views of mountain vistas because it borders the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

The city has set $950,000 as the minimum price for sealed bids, according to a presentation to Council last week.

City Manager Chris Brady said some potential buyers have expressed interest in the project but not enough to justify the cost of an auction.

“This is a significant aquifer. We will retain our ability to dip our straw there and make it available to the rest of the city,’’ he said. “This is a prime piece of property that will require a significant investment for the number of homes.’’

Freeman said the orchard is about 80 years old and the fruit is no longer viable but added he hopes that any homes built on the acre lots will preserve as many trees as possible in deference to the area’s role in Mesa history.

He said neighbors are excited about the property being sold and reserved for large-lot, single-family development.

Kim Fallbeck, real estate services director, said the $950,00 minimum bid represents the appraised value of the property. She said officials plan to have a digital event where the bids are unsealed.

Fallbeck’s presentation said the land was originally purchased with intent to build a water reclamation plant but more than half of it was sold to ADOT in 2002.

The property also has some shortcomings. A water line would need to be extended to serve new utility customers. Brady said a sewer line is not feasible, so future homeowners would need septic tanks.

The council gave tacit approval for the land sale, but details beyond advertising the bidding process were not discussed.

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