Oro Valley announces purchase and final settlement of former Vistoso Golf Course

Feb 17, 2022

The Town of Oro Valley released the Settlement Agreement that served as the foundation for today’s purchase of the former Vistoso Golf Course and announced its preliminary plans for when the Town takes ownership of the property later this year.

Town officials negotiated the agreement between four parties to purchase the property in two separate transactions. The Conservation Fund (TCF) closed escrow on 202 acres of golf course parcels, and developer Ross Rulney closed escrow on a 6.3-acre former clubhouse parcel from Romspen Vistoso LLC (Romspen).

The Oro Valley Town Council has been actively engaged in seeking a workable solution to the future of the property since June 2020. With the settlement agreement and purchase, the former Vistoso Golf Course has been preserved, and the 202 acres will be transferred from TCF to the Town of Oro Valley sometime later this year.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience over the last eighteen months as we worked every angle to develop a purchase and settlement scenario that addressed many complex issues,” said Oro Valley Town Manager Mary Jacobs. “This deal is a real win for the entire community and will result in a unique passive recreation amenity that directly addresses a priority of Town residents for walking and biking trails that we heard during our parks and recreation master planning process last year. We look forward to receiving the property from The Conservation Fund in the near future.” Town staff will include funding in the FY22/23 budget for immediate safety improvements on the property including repairs and upgrades of paved pathways, reopening the restrooms and general maintenance of the open space, which will be utilized for passive recreation activities such as walking, biking and bird watching. Opportunities will be available for residents to adopt portions of the trails under the Town’s Adopt-A-Program once safety improvements have been completed. The Town expects to work with the community to develop a master plan and capital investment strategy for the property over the next two years.

“This former golf course is near the Tortolita Mountains and provides a tremendous opportunity for natural open space, extensive walking and biking trails, passive recreation and a permanent wildlife corridor that will benefit our community for generations to come,” said Oro Valley Mayor Joe Winfield. “The community has strongly advocated their desire to see this property preserved, and I want to thank my colleagues on the Town Council for their vision and persistence in wanting to see this solution come to fruition. I would like to thank the community for their support and hard sacrifice in raising the necessary funding. I also extend my appreciation to Town Manager Mary Jacobs, Town Attorney Jonathan Rothschild, The Conservation Fund, Ross Rulney and Romspen for diligently working together to finalize this purchase.”

Details of the Settlement Agreement

The Settlement Agreement resolves the dispute regarding Romspen’s assertion of fair market value of the golf course parcels and removes any potential litigation related to a potential condemnation or inverse condemnation action. The settlement further stipulates certain commitments by the four parties that were necessary to consummate the deal. Among them are:

  • An agreement that Romspen will receive an aggregate amount of $4.25 million for all former golf course parcels. In separate purchase and sales agreements, The Conservation Fund (TCF) and Rulney paid a combined $3,365,000 for approximately 202 acres and the 6.3-acre parcel respectively. The Town agreed to settle its disputes for $885,000.

  • TCF requires the property to be held for conservation purposes in perpetuity and will work with the Town to eventually transfer the 202 acres of golf course parcels to the Town for natural open space and passive recreation while holding a conservation easement over the property.

  • Rulney agrees to limit its construction of an allowed multi-family residential complex to a maximum of two stories, up to 132 units. The Town agrees to provide zoning site relief, and TCF and the Town agree that approximately 1.5 acres of adjacent property can be used for drainage, public parking, utilities, open space/passive recreation and related uses.

To view the full settlement agreement on our website, click here.

Background

In June 2020, the Oro Valley Town Council voted to direct the Town Manager to work with The Conservation Fund (TCF) and Romspen on the potential preservation of the property. After TCF and Romspen were initially unable to come to terms, the Council voted in November 2020 to direct the Town Manager and Town Attorney to initiate communications with Romspen and any other third parties to negotiate the sale of the portion zoned open space for fair market value on or before April 1, 2021.After lengthy negotiations with Romspen, the revival of TCF’s participation, securing a developer for the 6.3-acre clubhouse parcel, crafting the settlement agreement and generous contributions by area residents to TCF for the purchase, the former Vistoso Golf Course has been preserved for open space and passive recreation use.



 


NEWS RELEASE

Media Contact: Val Keefer, (703) 908-5802, vkeefer@conservationfund.org

Images: https://bit.ly/3rDFKZh

THE CONSERVATION FUND ACQUIRES FORMER VISTOSO GOLF COURSE PROPERTY IN ARIZONA

Over 600 individuals donated to see this special place protected instead of developed

PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. (February 17, 2022)The Conservation Fund announced its purchase of the 202-acre former Vistoso Golf Course property in Oro Valley, Arizona.

Roughly two years ago, The Conservation Fund and its partners, including the Town of Oro Valley, residents and community leaders, and members of the organization Preserve Vistoso, set out to acquire and protect the property so it could be preserved as a wildlife sanctuary and public recreation destination. Thanks to the generous contributions of over 600 individuals in the community, over $1.8 million dollars was raised, and a challenging negotiation and successful acquisition are now complete.

“Support from the community was phenomenal,” said Mike Ford, The Conservation Fund’s Southwest Director. “We want to thank the Town of Oro Valley, led by Mayor Joe Winfield and Vice Mayor Melanie Barrett, as well as Preserve Vistoso and the hundreds of people who donated to this effort. Thanks to you, Arizona has gained another natural, cultural and recreational resource for all to enjoy.”

“I want to thank the community for their generosity, as well as my colleagues on the Town Council, Town leadership, The Conservation Fund, and the other parties in this transaction that helped this purchase come to fruition. Preservation of this land will benefit the entire Oro Valley community for generations to come,” said Oro Valley Mayor Joe Winfield.

The former Vistoso Golf Course property is a crown jewel in Oro Valley. Mountain views and varied desert vegetation, wildlife such as mule deer, bobcats, and birds, and rock formations bearing Native American petroglyphs can all be found on the site’s grounds. When the Vistoso Golf Course ceased operations in 2018, many in the community envisioned a future nature preserve in its place. It has become a popular open space for outdoor activities such as hiking and biking.

The Conservation Fund will temporarily hold the property, place a conservation easement on the land, and donate it to the Town of Oro Valley later this year. The conservation easement will ensure that the site will never be developed and will remain an asset for wildlife and the local community. The property will remain open for public access under The Conservation Fund’s interim ownership.

About The Conservation Fund

At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity.

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