If you are unfamiliar with the efforts of Preserve Vistoso to establish the former Vistoso golf property as a nature preserve and community trail, this page will be helpful.
Preserve Vistoso Background
Background and Current Status of the Former Vistoso Golf Course
OWNERSHIP OF THE VISTOSO GOLF COURSE
The former Vistoso Golf Course is owned by Romspen Investments, a $3 billion Toronto company that acquired the property in 2015 at a foreclosure auction. According to their financial statements, Romspen acquires properties via subsidiaries when borrowers default on their loans. They then attempt to develop and divest the properties with the goal of maximizing return to investors. They often advance additional funds for that purpose. Attempts by Romspen to sell the property as a golf course ended in April 2019.
PRESERVE VISTOSO'S PLAN FOR THE PROPERTY
Preserve Vistoso was formed so that our community would have a voice in what happens to the former Vistoso Golf Course. We want to protect the entire property by supporting its conversion to a nature preserve and community trail to benefit the entire community. Our goal is to provide a unified voice so that the Oro Valley officials understand that our community wants to retain existing zoning ordinances to maintain the property as recreational space. Keeping the property zoned recreational is consistent with the “Oro Valley Planned Area Development” and the “Your Voice, Our Future General Plan.” Preserve Vistoso actively opposes rezoning of the property.
Preserve Vistoso would work with the Town of Oro Valley, as well as other governmental agencies and nonprofits to create long term plans for the property. We believe our community is best served by converting the property into a nature preserve and community trail that could become an asset for our outdoor loving community. Since the golf course was designed as a desert course, most of the property already is natural desert habitat. The six miles of cart paths could support bicycle riders, hikers and families with children in stroller. It would be accessible to seniors and our disabled citizens. Our goal is to retain and preserve the natural tranquility, spectacular scenery, and wildlife habitats that exist today. This is the last remaining part of the Sonoran Desert in Oro Valley. We want the entire community to enjoy it as a nature preserve and community trail.
ROMSPEN'S PLAN FOR THE FORMER GOLF COURSE
Romspen submitted a proposal in March 2020 to amend the Oro Valley General Plan and the Rancho Vistoso Planned Area Development (PAD) by changing the zoning of sections of the property from recreational to medium and high density residential. Because of Covid 19 concerns, the Town announced it would conduct ZOOM meetings and accept email comments from residents. Preserve Vistoso members sent hundreds of emails, letting the Town know our opposition to Romspen’s rezoning plans. One Town representative said that the emails were 100 percent in opposition. Our members participated in the ZOOM calls to voice our concerns.
The rezoning process is the responsibility of the Oro Valley Town Council with input from the Planning Department, Zoning Commission and residents. Rezoning the Vistoso Golf Course for something other than recreational purposes would require an approved amendment to the Oro Valley General Plan. Our well-organized group of citizens with a cohesive message has made an impact on influencing our governing bodies.
POTENTIAL ACQUISITION OF PROPERTY BY THE CONSERVATION FUND
In June, 2020 The Conservation Fund (TCF) (https://www.conservationfund.org), a highly regarded national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, submitted a letter of intent to Romspen Investments to purchase the entire former Vistoso Golf Course for a cash offer at the Fair Market Value based on an appraisal by a highly regarded national appraisal firm that was selected by mutual agreement between Romspen and TCF. An integral part of the purchase would be an easement assuring that the land will be public open space in perpetuity. Preserve Vistoso partnered with TCF to replenish its acquisition funds, receiving pledges of more than $1.5 million.
In September, 2020 Romspen rejected TCF’s offer. TCF said it stands ready to support the offer in the future should the situation change.
ORO VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL
In November, 2020 the Town Council approved 7-0 a motion by Mayor Joe Winfield and seconded by Council Member Joyce Jones-Ivey to negotiate the sale of the Vistoso Property from Romspen Investments at Fair Market Value. The Mayor asked for frequent updates to the Council and set an April 1 deadline to complete negotiations.
HERE'S HOW YOU CAN HELP
JOIN PRESERVE VISTOSO TODAY. Click the “JOIN” button to become a member, it's free. All members will receive email updates about events that affect the future of the property. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to express your ideas and concerns. We are 1,500+ members strong and are growing every day. You also can join Town Council meetings and during the “Call to Audience” part of the agenda, thank the Mayor and Council for its efforts to negotiate the purchase of the property.