Sahuarita Times: A Vision Fulfilled – Past, Present and Future

In 1994, visionary residents in the Sahuarita area came together as a group to establish the Town of Sahuarita for the purpose of controlling their own destiny.  Those pioneers foresaw an opportunity to create a family-oriented community that would offer a lifestyle unique to Southern Arizona. They also imagined a thriving Town Center, which would serve as an economic hub while also acting as a gathering place for residents to connect with their neighbors. Starting with just a small Post Office in 1999, the Town Center has now become the centerpiece of that original vision, and it now embodies a diverse offering of lifestyle opportunities, anchored with commercial, educational, and cultural spaces.

Over twenty years ago, the founders of the Town of Sahuarita began their partnership with Bob Sharpe, the creator of Rancho Sahuarita, with the goal of establishing a community where residents would discover not only a great place to live, learn, work, play, and shop,  but also one with a vibrant sense of community. The Sahuarita Town Center has been designed to showcase this originally envisioned unique sense of place. As a result of this vision, since the very beginning, Rancho Sahuarita has worked with stakeholders to establish key municipal, educational, cultural, medical, and commercial services in a centralized location, and the Town Center is now being positioned to include additional entertainment, retail and employment opportunities.

Bob Sharpe summed up his desire to establish a Downtown Sahuarita. “It’s all about collaborations that add value to the community and having a common dream of what can be accomplished. We all have to work together to create a more sustainable place to live for the residents.” Sharpe continued by saying, “By partnering for the greater good, the Town Council, its staff members and Rancho Sahuarita can enhance residents’ lives through actions that reinforce rising home values, growing services, and abundant educational, cultural, and employment opportunities.”

The success of past partnerships demonstrates the synergy that can be created by locating community projects like the Post Office, the Municipal Complex, the LDS Church and the fire station in the Town Center. One of the most significant examples of a public-private partnership, that has benefited the Town Center includes the Sahuarita Unified School District’s completion of the Early Childhood Center, the “A rated” Copper View Elementary School, the aquatic complex, and the extension of “main street.” SUSD Superintendent, Dr. Valenzuela, recently stated, “Sharing common interests and collaborating with the Town and Rancho Sahuarita has allowed all of us to leverage our limited resources to achieve beneficial outcomes for the community, in spite of today’s demanding times.”

In 2012, the Sahuarita Town Center won the Metropolitan Pima Alliance’s Common Ground Award for ‘Community Building’. This award recognizes the work of 13 different partners who collaborated to build educational facilities, two houses of worship, Rural/Metro Fire Station #79 and various enhancements to public infrastructure, including to roads and the underpass at Sahuarita Road. Regional recognition of this accomplishment further highlights the importance of the Town Center and its true value in terms of ‘building community’ both for the present and the future.

Designed with Spanish Colonial architecture that is integrated into an urban master plan, the Town Center is intended to create a distinctive sense of place and make Sahuarita stand out from other communities in the area. Achieving such a vision depends on the continuation of successful partnerships.

Sharpe concluded, “Quality place-making requires a brilliant vision, a steadfast entrepreneurial spirit, and leaders who believe that the greatest accomplishments can only be achieved through teamwork.”