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McCormick Ranch

(The following is courtesy of www.McCormickRanchPOA.com)

The History of McCormick Ranch

McCormick Ranch was started in 1942 by Merle Chaney and sold to the McCormick’s in the mid-40’s. It was the last large ranch located in the City of Scottsdale.

Anne McCormick was attracted to the area because of the dry climate. The original purchase consisted of 160 acres purchased primarily as a winter home for the McCormicks. They had maintained other homes in Quebec, Canada and in Pleasantville, New York, as well as a villa on the Riviera, a farm in Barrington, IL and an apartment in Chicago.

Fowler McCormick was the grandson of Cyrus McCormick, who invented the reaper, on the paternal side and John Rockefeller on the maternal side. Fowler worked himself up from a job in the foundry to the President and Chairman of the Board of International Harvester.

When the McCormicks were settled, Anne, whose main interest was raising horses, purchased some saddle-bred palominos and started a breeding program. In order to have more riding area, she started acquiring the adjacent land. At the time McCormick Ranch was purchased by Kaiser-Aetna in July of 1970, there was seven square miles on the Ranch. About 600 acres of that were utilized for farming grain products. At that time, the McCormicks owned McCormick Park (now known as the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park), a 100 acre parcel of land located at the south side of Indian Bend Road and Scottsdale Road. In 1967, Anne donated the park, which at the time was valued at $1 million, to the City of Scottsdale.

In 1949, Anne sent 25 head of Angus to the Ranch from Barrington Farms in Illinois to see whether or not they could take the heat and could thrive in this climate. After about a year and a half, she sent the remainder of the Angus herd to Scottsdale making a total of about 350 pure bred Angus at the Ranch. These were both show and breeding stock and were some of the finest in the country. To this day, the POA still uses the original McCormick Ranch cattle brand as it’s logo. Note the “M”, the “C” and the “R” hidden within the logo.

McCormick Ranch Slideshow

In 1949, Anne purchased the Arabian stallion, Mustafa, to breed with the palomino mares and became interested in Arabian horses. She also purchased a pure bred stallion, Son Royal, from England, and two pure bred mares. This was the beginning of her Arabian breeding program. At a later date, she imported Naborr, the Arabian stallion from Poland. When the horses were disbursed after Anne’s death in 1969, Naborr sold at auction for $150,000 — the highest price ever paid for an Arabian stallion at that time. Naborr was purchased jointly by the late Tom Chauncey and Wayne Newton.

Anne was active in all aspects of the ranch’s operation, living on it from Thanksgiving to mid-April each year. She was responsible for bringing Arabian horses to Scottsdale and helped found the All Arabian Show. The crops grown on the ranch fed the stock being raised.

Upon Anne’s death, the horses and the ranch were sold. Probate was completed in July of 1970 with the sale of 4,236 acres to Kaiser-Aetna for $12,100,000 ($.05 per square foot).

A gentleman by the name of George Fretz was Scottsdale City Planner at that time and was hired by Kaiser-Aetna with the blessing of the city to produce a master plan for the Ranch. That master plan was adhered to fairly closely — except for the equestrian facility and the schools. Mrs. McCormick’s equestrian facility was located on the west side of Pima Road just south of Shea Boulevard. Original plans were to continue to use that site for equestrian activities, but it eventually was rezoned to residential. The other change from the master plan was the school sites — 18 or 19 were planned in all. These numerous school sites were eliminated due to the fact that original buyers were not “first nesters” but rather older in age than projected and second home buyers.

When Kaiser-Aetna purchased the Ranch, it was the country’s largest single piece of property sold for a planned community within city limits. Today McCormick Ranch contains 3,116 total acres. Kaiser-Aetna sold the remaining undeveloped acreage to Transcontinental Properties in 1980. Transcontinental then sold 1,120 acres to Markland Properties. Today, those 1,120 acres are known as Scottsdale Ranch.

Taking Care Not to Leapfrog

The transformation of the McCormick’s Ranch was based on a master plan developed by Gruen Associates of Los Angeles and Scottsdale Environmental Planners and Consultants. Development began with infrastructure and amenities. The amenities had a dual purpose by providing aesthetics, which included two championship 18-hole golf courses, more than 25 miles of bicycle paths, public tennis courts, 130 acres of man-made lakes, two of which can be used for sailing and several that are stocked with fish.

Equally important, these amenities create drainage areas in times of flash storms. Camelback Lake, in the southern portion of the Ranch, had once been horse stables. Many of the original ponds were made into lakes. Camelback Walk is landscaped, but designed and sized to take care of a 100-year flood. “The Walk”, a continuous open space that runs under major roads and through the parks, lakes and streams, is the major spine of the overall Ranch development.

The people and city council of Scottsdale had already begun a successful planning effort to protect their environment prior to the development of McCormick Ranch. One example of this is the Indian Bend Wash Recreation area which extends for several miles north-south along the Hayden Parkway through the center of Scottsdale and McCormick Ranch. Indian Bend Wash provides a year-round playground for local residents. The various lakes of McCormick Ranch flow into one another and are formed in the shape of a ‘Y’. When a flash flood hits, the lakes overfill from the residential run off, emptying into the Indian Bend Wash from the bottom of the ‘Y’.

The successful growth of McCormick Ranch was due to adhering to the master plan and the sales and marketing of the three phases. Taking care not to “leapfrog”, each had its own planning and execution which lead to the development of the next one.

Planned in Phases

Phase I saw the completion of infrastructure (major street, sewers, water lines), the amenities and the introduction of the three resorts — The Inn at McCormick Ranch (now known as the Millennium Resort Scottsdale McCormick Ranch), The Registry Resort (now known as The Radisson Resort and Spa), and the Scottsdale Conference Center Resort. In Phase II, builders purchased parcels of land, constructed the houses, condominiums, and patio homes, and did on-site streets and utilities. Since 1980, when Transcontinental Properties acquired the remaining 300 of 500 planned commercial acres, the company has developed 78 acres in a residential project, and 182 acres in commercial projects. One of the city’s largest employers, Scottsdale Healthcare, is located in the McCormick Ranch Center. McCormick Ranch Center is an area defined by Shea Boulevard on the north, Pima Road on the west, 96th Street on the east and the Indian Reservation on the south. This area also includes light manufacturing, garden offices, banks, shopping centers, an auto center, medical offices and grocers.

For planners and developers and builders, the seven square miles of McCormick Ranch is a quantitative figure of square feet and easements and setbacks. But for the resident, McCormick Ranch is an expansively sweeping view of the mountains, well-maintained areas and curvature roads.