Welcome to Arcadia
The part of Phoenix commonly referred to as Arcadia encompasses the area north of the Arizona Canal and south of Camelback Road between 44th Street and Scottsdale Road. First recorded in June 1915 by L.E. Froman, Citrus Homes was bounded by Camelback Road and Lafayette Blvd. to the north, 56th Street to the east, and the Arizona Canal to the south. The Citrus Homes development contained 25 5+ acre lots which ran from north to south with the southern boundary of each lot bordering on the Arizona Canal. The area remains in demand because of the unique irrigation system with water rights passed on to the new homeowners, its ability to still provide plentiful citrus or other food bearing vegetation, a quality school system, a strong and active neighborhood association, proximity to neighboring communities and easy access to downtown Phoenix, Old Town Scottsdale, and Tempe. The natural boundaries of the Arizona Canal on the south and Camelback Mountain on the north have kept the area quiet and insulated from traffic.
PERFECT FORPeople who want to be in a centralized location with large homes and yards...and can afford it
NOT SO PERFECT FORPeople who hate the bugs and critters that come with flood irrigation or people who want a newer home
THE LIFESTYLEResidents enjoy their large yards and you'll see plenty of people out riding bikes or sipping wine on their patios when the weather is nice
THE MARKETVarious takes on ranch style homes on large irrigated lots. Although the homes in "Arcadia Proper" aren't always considered luxury, there certainly are plenty of them that would, especially on Exeter and Lafayette Boulevard
YOU'LL FALL IN LOVE WITHThe centralized location with large parcels of green, lush yards full of the smell of citrus trees
Agricultural Early Days
More than one hundred and thirty years ago the area was nothing but harsh desert, but the construction of the Arizona Canal in 1883 brought water into the area and allowed for cultivation of such foods as citrus, figs, potatoes, pumpkins, peanuts and almonds. Once the Arizona Canal was built people began to look to the area for potential profits.
Real Estate Development
At the turn of the century, rural housing developments at the time were often developed on an individual homesite basis. One developer sought a different way to develop homes for sale in the area that was not yet part of the City of Phoenix, nor Scottsdale. The Jordan, Grace, and Phelps Land Company was successful in assembling multiple holdings adjacent to each other then then surveying, platting, and marketing the subdivision as rural estates to the upper class of Phoenix.
The first Arcadia homes to be sold were part of the Citrus Homes development in 1919. The developer broke their Arcadia Tract into five to ten acre lots and mandated that no home could be constructed for less than $5,000, which at the time set the standard of homes quite high as they were trying to lure in the more affluent homeowners who wanted to live in a rural setting complete with their own small citrus orchards that were fully irrigated. Seymour Jordan, Robert Grace, and Charles Keafer, highlighted the Arcadia area homes as agricultural potential and hoped that “the purchasers of this land will engage in the growing of citrus fruits.”
Arcadia Water Company
There were challenges to overcome. For example, citrus needed water and the new Arcadia area was north of the Arizona Canal and was notably higher in elevation because the geography rose as it got neared Camelback Mountain.
To solve this issue wells had to be dug. The Arcadia developers, led by Seymour Jordan, formed the Arcadia Water Company in 1919. This organization constructed several large pumping plants in Paradise Valley capable of supplying 2,100 acres with water. In order to transport this water throughout the Arcadia development, an underground irrigation system was planned. By 1924, construction crews had laid fifteen miles of underground concrete pipe in the area. In fact, Shemer Art Center and Museum is the building that was built in 1919 as a residence for the foreman of the water company.
As with many developments during the late 1920’s, financing became an issue. Parts of the planned area were refinanced and replatted by a variety of different owners between 1925 and 1931. These subdivisions included Glencoe Highlands (1925), Arcadia Estates (1926), Arcadia Replatted (1926), Hacienda Allenada (1930), and Alta Hacienda (1931). Despite the change in ownership, the homes in the “Arcadia” continued to be marketed to affluent people looking for a rural, estate atmosphere with lots staying large ranging from 4 to 10 acres, but also the minimum cost of construction restrictions stayed in place or were increased as was the case of the Arcadia Replat neighborhood, which sits closer to Camelback Road. The developers required homes to be built exceeding $10,000 which was achievable by the most wealthy at the time.
Despite being marketed to the upper class, Arcadia was still quite rural with the occasional wild horses running along Lafayette Boulevard.
By the 1930’s the resort developers had taken note of the Arcadia area and the brand that it had developed. The Cook Mansion just north of Camelback Road, built by the Thomas Cook Travel Agency family, was converted at that time for this purpose and became the original structure for the Royal Palms Inn. Now the restaurant in the Royal Palms is called T. Cooks. Additional resorts, but no longer in service were the Jokake Inn, the Paradise Inn, and Elizabeth Arden’s Main Chance retreat.
In the mid 1950s, Phoenix real estate growth reached Arcadia. Although most of Arcadia is now in Phoenix, the area east of 64th Street is in Scottsdale. By the 1950s, a number of residential developments had begun. One notable example is the Mount Grove subdivision, built upon the former Sphinx Date Ranch, located from 46th Place to 47th Place and from the Arizona Canal north to Lafayette Boulevard. The sphinx date palms were believed to only be able to grow in this part of the United States so as homes went up, as many sphinx date palms were saved from destruction.
Just like today, people felt the need to renovate their homes or move. Building materials had changed and so had the styles, but the location and lot size kept many in the area. Much of the original homes were changed to match what we know as Ranch Style or Mid-Century Modern homes. Arcadia had remained a highly desirable neighborhood and the few remaining parcels in the neighborhood were developed with high-end homes.
In the late 1980s the Phoenician Resort located at 60th Street on the north side of Camelback Road was developed. As part of the resort, a 27 hole golf course was built at the base of Camelback. Because of its luxurious guest accommodations, it has gained international recognition as a 5 star resort. The old Royal Palms Inn was relatively recently renovated to be a top of the line resort. Two new residential subdivisions have been developed in the 1990s. Arcadia Estates is located at the southeast corner of Arcadia Drive and Lafayette Boulevard. Royal Palms Estates is developed on what once was the Royal Palms Inn executive golf course.