Frequently-asked questions

Frequently-asked questions

Q:  Why should people who don't live on the course or play golf care about building houses on a golf course?

A: First, the use of the property is restricted by a legal contract, called the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, between the golf course owners and property owners in the vicinity. The developer is not sharing any windfall from switching the property from a low-value use like a golf course to a high-value use like high-density housing. Instead, the developers expect residents of Ahwatukee to bear all the unpleasant side effects of development including:

  1. Traffic. Traffic studies indicate that building 300 new homes on The Lakes Golf Course would add some 6,000 automobile trips per day to existing streets and intersections.  Regardless of where one lives in Ahwatukee, the impact on traffic would be dramatic.
  2. Flooding. The original land planner who laid out Ahwatukee for Presley Development has stated that Presley did not build houses on The Lakes Golf Course property because it is a flood plain.  Building on the flood plain would likely result in more frequent, severe and widespread flooding in the community instead of being retained in The Lakes (ponds) and percolating into the soil.
  3. Added heat buildup in the summer.  Open space helps disperse some of the heat that accumulates builds up and gets trapped in cities, reducing the load on air conditioners.


Q: Development contributes to economic growth and a strong economy helps everybody. Why should people stand in the way of economic growth?

A: The economic impact of development of The Lakes along the lines being proposed by True Life will not be as great as one might assume.  What building materials will be purchased locally?  How much of the labor needed to build the development will be local? How much of the pay earned by the laborers will be spent locally? Any uptick in economic activity will largely disappear once the development is complete.

To a degree, a larger population would increase shopping and employment opportunities, and more businesses, as envisioned in the True Life proposal, could add some employment and goods and services available, as well as provide additional customers for local businesses. The more important question, however, is whether any new types of goods and services would be available, whether any new businesses would take away more customers than would be added because of another 300 housing units.  The Ahwatukee Farms proposal does not offer much to benefit important drivers of economic growth like productivity and incomes.

If the development were completed, Ahwatukee will be left with more traffic, increased risk of flooding (which may or may not be insurable), higher air conditioning bills.

On the other hand, if the course were restored, perhaps as a desert course, golf would continue to be an important part of the tourism and recreation industry in Phoenix.


Q: If golf isn't profitable anymore, why shouldn't the property owner be allowed to use the property for some other purpose?

A: It may be true that the number of golf rounds played nationally is down from its peak, but it is a vast overstatement to say that golf is dead.  National averages on participation in golf are not accurate stats for the Phoenix area, which is well recognized as a golfing mecca, especially during winter months.

Just like any business, some owners and managers run the businesses more profitably than others. Plenty of golf courses are profitable.  The operators of other comparable courses in the area, such as Ken McDonald and Rolling Hills in Tempe and Dobson Ranch in Mesa, have discovered innovative ways to make their courses attractive to families and golfers of all ages.Any golf operator can buy and ruin a course, then claim he can’t make money on his investment.

Making The Lakes profitable again would require a significant amount of money to repair the damage done by a previous owner, but it would be far less than the $14 million estimate True Life acquired from a Troon-affiliated appraiser.  Realistic estimates for The Lakes to be restored run about $2 million to $3 million dollars.  And, The Lakes could easily be converted to a desert course, eliminating a huge cost for irrigation and turf maintenance.  There are parties interested in buying and restoring The Lakes, but the course is not currently for sale so the parties haven't not made their offers public.

To be profitable, the property would have to be bought at a golf-course price, rather than the prices that residential-commercial land. No one could operate The Lakes profitably after paying the $9 million True Life claims to have paid for the property. That is a price based on how much they can charge to sell lots for 300 homes, a private school, and some commercial space.