Special thanks to HOA resident Terry Sieben who researched and provided the following.
After World War II Oro Valley Began to Grow – 1950’s
After World War II, the Tucson area experienced dramatic population growth. This growth also included Oro Valley Az. In the early 1950s Oro Valley Country Club opened at the base of Pusch Ridge. With it, the area’s future as an affluent community was affirmed. The community continued to grow. With the growth, residents wanted local control over their future.
In the late 1960s, incorporation became the focus in Oro Valley. A petition to incorporate began circulation in Oro Valley in 1968. But the Pima County Board of Supervisors refused to allow Oro Valley to incorporate. That lead to litigation between Oro Valley AZ and Pima County.
Oro Valley Incorporated – 1974
The Arizona Supreme Court ruled in favor of incorporation. In 1974 the Town of Oro Valley Arizona incorporated. It was a mere 2.4 square miles. The original town limits included the Linda Vista Citrus Tracts, Campo Bello Estates, Shadow Mountain Estates, and Oro Valley Country Club Estates. Town founders proceeded with incorporation efforts with the official name of Oro Valley. They felt the name would be popular to influential residents of Oro Valley Country Club. The Town began with a population of 1,200 citizens.
Through the 1980s and particularly in the 1990s Oro Valley experienced significant growth. In 1990, the town had a population of 6,670, and by 2000 that figure had increased to 29,700 residents. Estimates for 2020 are around 50,000. Developers worked with the town to establish several “master-planned” communities. La Reserve and Rancho Vistos were two notable ones.
El Conquistador Gateway to Northwest Growth – 1982
The Sheraton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort at 10000 North Oracle Road was the largest hotel and conference center in the Tucson area when built in 1982. Now affiliated with Hilton Hotels, the site would have 444 guest rooms and 31,136 square feet of meeting/conference rooms. The planned ballroom was 11,900 square feet, and the resort would have a total restaurant capacity of 632 patrons.
The $30 million complex would be surrounded by a $40 million townhouse development called El Conquistador Resort Patio Homes. The resort opened in the early winter of 1983 and the townhomes began being occupied later that year.
El Conquistador Resort Patio Homes – 1983
Developer Marketing Campaign – the patio homes were created for those who appreciate quality and luxury, the homes offered resort amenities next door such as golf, tennis, horse-back riding right in your own backyard. These homes, built by Ditz-Crane/Emerald Homes, are nestled in the shadows of the Catalina Mountains, priced beginning at $120,000 for a 1,450 square foot home.
Memories from the O.V. Historical Society Archives
Mr. Yogi Hutsen (the resort’s second General Manager (G.M.) was interviewed shortly after the facility was first built. He was not involved in the actual pre-opening but shared this:
“The resort was developed by George Johnson and Lowell Williamson from Scottsdale. Apparently, George had a lot of vision, but no money, and that’s why Met Life (Sheraton’s owner at the time) bought the hotel, but George kept the golf course, and sold it to an “average” group. When Joe Rosen (the resort’s first G.M.) was playing golf one day with the Chairman of Met Life, the Chairman told Mr. Rosen that the hotel should own the golf course, so they bought it! Back then, the hotel did about $1/2 million in play, and held 14 tournaments per year (the hey day!)”
Mr. Hutsen said then-Mayor Steve Engle knew the importance of a resort because there was nothing in Oro Valley – no retail, very few homes, and no property tax on those homes. It was the first resort built in Oro Valley.The town had only 3 policemen and no fire department.
Mr. Hutsen was responsible for the landscaping along El Conquistador Way (at a reported cost of $2 million back then). The empty lots at the beginning of El Conquistador Way and Oracle were to be limited-service hotels at the time. The Last Territory restaurant was built during Mr. Hutsen’s tenure along with the 9-hole golf course around the hotel and the tennis courts as well as the townhomes!
Because there was no fire department for the Town, and Rural Metro was too far away, he also purchased a fire truck and a smaller pick-up truck for little fires, a pumper (using water from the pool), and a sewage and water treatment plant.
According to Mr. Hutsen some of the celebrities that visited/stayed at the resort were Dorothy McGuire and Jerry Lewis was there for the MDA telethon for several years. Met Life contributed a quarter of a million dollars to that charity.
Click here to see the video by KGUN 9 about the history of the resort.
Click here to visit the Oro Valley Historical Society.