PRESERVE VISTOSO FACT SHEET

July 2021

Preserve Vistoso is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, with nearly 1,900 members. It was founded in February 2019 to ensure the preservation of the Vistoso Golf Property, a 202-acre parcel of land zoned recreational and a six acre parcel zoned high-density residential in northern Oro Valley. Romspen, a $3 billion Canadian non-bank mortgage lender, owns the property and rejected a fair market value cash offer from The Conservation Fund (TCF) in 2020.

HISTORY OF THE VISTOSO PROPERTY

  • Tom Weiskopf designed and opened the Vistoso Golf Course in 1995 with more than 70 percent of the property remaining desert habitat. The Vistoso Golf Property was purchased at an auction in 2015 by Romspen from IRI Golf Group.   

  • Romspen’s financial filing at the time of purchase said that it was preparing the property for future sale and the potential creation of development tracts of land within the property. 

  • Attempts to sell the property as a golf course ended and the course closed in June 2018.  

ROMSPEN FILES FOR ZONING CHANGES

  • In March 2020, Romspen filed a General Plan Amendment with Oro Valley to rezone the property to sell to developers. One Romspen proposal called for a senior living facility, another proposal suggested urban infill of hundreds of homes on 87 of the 208 acres.

  • The Town of Oro Valley asked for community comments and scheduled Zoom rezoning meetings.  Community members overwhelmingly voiced opposition to Romspen’s plans with more than 1,200 email comments and hundreds participating in the Zoom meetings.

TCF OFFERS TO BUY PROPERTY

  • In June 2020, following a visit to the property, Mike Ford, from The Conservation Fund (TCF), submitted a Letter of Intent to Romspen for the purchase of the property to preserve it with a Conservation Easement. TCF, a highly regarded national nonprofit organization, helps make community conservation projects a reality.

  • By July 2020, Preserve Vistoso members and TCF had combined pledges of $1.5 million to purchase the property and place it in a conservation easement.

  • In September 2020, Romspen rejected TCF’s offer of the appraised fair market value for the 208-acre Vistoso property.  

  • When Romspen rejected a fair market appraised cash offer for the property in 2020 from TCF, the company local lawyer, Pat Lopez, said that there were “erroneous errors on the appraisal” TCF said this was factually incorrect and painted a distorted picture of the proceedings.  

ORO VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY SUPPORTS CONTINUED NEGOTIATIONS

  • In November 2020, the Oro Valley Town Council unanimously voted to negotiate the sale of the Vistoso property from Romspen.  

  • In April 2021, Mike Ford from TCF announced that it again was involved in negotiating for the purchase of the Vistoso property.  

  • In July 2021, Romspen ordered a new appraisal of the property. This third appraisal report should be available in August.

  • In July 2021, the Oro Valley Town Attorney said that if the appraisal price for the 202 acres zoned recreational is less than Romspen’s required price, the Town Council Members agreed unanimously to continue further negotiations in an attempt to resolve outstanding disputes with Romspen.

DETAILS OF CURRENT PROPOSAL 

  • Some 202-acres of the property currently zoned recreational would be purchased by TCF and the property placed in a conservation easement to protect it as open space in perpetuity. 

  • In a separate agreement, the six acres where the former Vistoso club house and parking lot are located is currently zoned high density residential and could be sold to a private developer. The six-acre sale would be contingent on the concurrent sale of the 202 acres.

  • Romspen’s acceptance of the current offer would end the community nightmare over the uncertainty of this beautiful desert property and preserve 202 acres for recreational use in perpetuity for the community.

UPDATE ON NEGOTIATIONS

  • In May 2021, Romspen ordered a third appraisal of the property to establish fair market value. It should be public in August.  

  • Preserve Vistoso believes that Romspen should accept TCF’s offer of fair market value for the property. Our community is totally committed to protect this desert property.

WHY PRESERVE THE PROPERTY

  • The Vistoso property provides an opportunity to save a sizable portion of the Sonoran Desert as a recreational area. It has spectacular mountain scenery, petroglyphs, more than six miles of paved trails, three restrooms and trail underpasses for major roads.

  • There are 17 neighborhoods next to the property and 13 additional neighborhoods within walking distance. 

  • The area was once home to Native Americans in a village called Sleeping Snake. The developer of the CenterPointe Vistoso found Native American pottery, which is exhibited in the community’s pool area.  

  • School children would have the nature preserve available as a desert environment learning laboratory.