By February 11, 2016Historical Articles


Town_Center_pg1The Town Center is an 87 acre site located at the Southeast corner of Rancho Vistoso Blvd. and Moore Rd. in Oro Valley. This site, which is privately owned, was formed as a part of the 1987 Rancho Vistoso PAD. At that time it was envisioned that this would be the center of the Town of Oro Valley, thus its name the “Town Center”. As such the Town Center was hard zoned for a wide variety of uses including very high density residential (up to 21RAC) and a mixture of commercial uses.
Located within the boundary of the Town Center is the actual Honey Bee Village Hohokam archaeological site The Honey Bee Village site is the most significant archeological site in the Town of Oro Valley. This site, occupied from 700AD through 1200AD, includes several hundred pit houses, a walled compound and a ball court. Its preservation and study is of the utmost importance to the Town of Oro Valley, Pima County and the Indian Nations,
The development of the Town Center poses a unique challenge. On the one hand, the Town Center contains the unique and irreplaceable cultural and historical resource of the Honey Bee Village. On the other hand, the Town Center land is fully entitled for development with only the requirement to mitigate the archaeological site and then build over the site Additionally, the land value for just the core area of the Honey Bee Village (approximately 13 acres) is $8,000,000 which far exceeds the available preservation bond funds of S1,000,000.
The successful, responsible and appropriate development of the Town Center requires a new and unique approach in which all interested parties work together in partnership throughout the entire development design process. This was accomplished through the formation, by the Town of Oro Valley, of the Honey Bee Village Preserve Working Group. This working group originally tasked with only preparing a conceptual plan for the preservation and management of the Honey Bee archaeological site was expanded in both scope and participants to encompass a conceptual development plan for the entire Town Center_ The working group addressed the issues of what should be preserved, how it should be preserved and the integration of the preserve with both residential and commercial development.
The expanded working group included representatives from the Town of Oro Valley (Mayor, Town Manager, Planning & Zoning, Parks & Recreation), the Town of Oro Valley consultants (Community By Design & Desert Archaeology), Pima County (County Administrator, Cultural Resources & Historical Preservation), the Tohono O’Od ham Nation (Executive Staff, Cultural Affairs & Cultural Preservation), the Arizona State Museum and the land owner and developer, Canada Vistas Homes.
The goals of the Town Center development were:
1. Preserve the core of the Honey Bee Village
2. Create a historical focal point for the Town of Oro Valley
3. Ensure the economic viability of the Development
4. Ensure unique and compatible residential and commercial development_
As a result of extensive meetings and planning sessions a conceptual preservation plan and development plan accomplishing the above goals and agreeable to all parties has been developed. The Town Center development is focused around the formation of the “Honey Bee Village Preserve”. This preserve encompasses the vast majority of the archaeological features believed to have formed the core of the village including the ball court and walled compound, The Honey Bee Village Preserve is being created by the donation of 13 acres by the land owner and developer, Canada Vistas Homes. The Preserve will be held in the public domain and will be accessible to the public, In addition Pima County is utilizing the voter approved Honey Bee Village preservation bond funds ($1,000,000) to provide the necessary archeological studies, surveys and mitigation of the remainder of the Town Center site outside of the preserved core area
The draft Honey Bee Village Archaeological Preserve Conceptual Site Plan was accepted by the Oro Valley Town Council on July 6, 2005 and forwarded to the Tohono 010d ham Nation for their review and comments_ The Tohono O’Od ham Legislative Council approved a resolution supporting the Conceptual Plan on September 14. 2005.

In addition to the Honey Bee Village Preserve the Town Center development consists of three separate development areas:

  1. HONEY BEE PLAZA: A 10 acre central neighborhood mall commercial area of up to 100,000 square feet of space at the intersection of Rancho Vistoso Blvd. and Moore Road, Expected uses include specialty shops, restaurants with outside dining and offices. The commercial area will serve a dual function allowing the appropriate public access to the Preserve_ Facilities for the support of the Honey Bee Village Preserve will include space for an interpretive and educational center and a 1/4 acre site dedicated to an active archaeological display. Other necessary support services will include parking, food, beverages and restrooms.
  2. HOHOKAM lvISA: A lower density 52 acre single family home development
    with 149 lots (3RAC). This development has been intentionally designed to avoid the typical “cookie cutter” look. Loving street design along with varied street setbacks and lot sires form a meandering and open streetscape throughout the neighborhood. The lots have been carefully configured to utilize the natural land contours and the expansive views and designed such all the lots back up to open space These design features, along with large amounts of natural space and an interconnected trail system, will provide the residents with a pedestrian friendly and open environment.
  3. 3. DESERT PUEBLO: A 14 acre resortivacation condominium development consisting of 17 residential buildings and a club house for a total of 124 units. This results in a density of 9RAC as opposed to the zoning of 21RAC. Once again this community has been designed with caving and varied street setbacks to provide a meandering and open street scape.

Although the Rancho Vistoso Pad allows for high density development of the Town Center Neighborhood, the developed areas account for only 50% of the total 87 acres_ The designs of both the commercial and residential areas will be such that they reflect the Southwest native heritage of this site. All structures, walls, yards. landscaping and any other types of development will be in compliance with a set of Architectural Guidelines to ensure compatibility with the historic nature of the Town Center.
The Town Center development will truly be a one-of- a -kind unique community, not only in Oro Valley, but all of Southern Arizona, The Honey Bee Village Preserve will be the largest historical site in the Town of Oro Valley and is expected to be the jewel and focal point of the historic past and heritage of the Town_ The future residents of the Town Center community will be drawn by the archeological preserve and eager to participate in it preservation. Its historical significance along with the unique community design. open space, expansive vistas and central location will result in an unique and wonderful addition to the Oro Valley community.

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