The Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce board has endorsed the Ahwatukee Farms plan for the closed golf course at the Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Club.
In a two-paragraph statement released late Thursday, the board declared:
“With respect to the proposed development of Ahwatukee Farms to repurpose the former Ahwatukee Lakes property, the AFCC offers its support in principle of the project. The organization recognizes the potential economic benefits that could result from the proposed development by creating new jobs and bringing new customers to Ahwatukee’s local businesses.”
“The AFCC believes that a comprehensive, innovative, and sophisticated approach to economic development program is crucial to Ahwatukee's success,” the chamber added, stating “such a program is best conceived through a highly cooperative and supportive partnership between the public sector and the business community.”
True Life Companies, which owns the course, has proposed a so-called urban agriculture development for the approximate 100-acre golf course site.
It would include at least 260 homes, a private Montessori school, café, five-acre community farm, two lakes and a multi-use path around the perimeter of the course. The course was closed in 2013.
True Life needs 51 percent of the Lakes’ approximate 5,200 homeowners to sign a consent form agreeing to a change in land use regulations that would allow the farms proposal to go forward. The company said several weeks ago that it had secured the approval of about 38 percent of the homeowners.
A group of homeowners called Save the Lakes opposes True Life’s plan, saying it will dramatically increase motor vehicle traffic, drastically reduce open space in the community and pose potential flooding problems from storm water runoff.
It wants the golf course restored, and two homeowners are pressing that fight in a civil court suit.
True Life has said that the golf course will never return, citing a decline nationally in golf and saying the course is no longer economically viable.
True Life has made two presentations to the chamber, once to its board and then another to interested members.
During its presentation to members, True Life executive Quentin Thornton said the farms plan would include as many as 100 townhouse units. Prior to that, the company had said it planned about 300 single-family homes.
The chamber board’s announcement comes last than a week after chamber CEO/President Anne Gill announced she is leaving to take on the same job as head of the Tempe Chamber, whose longtime director called it quits after 19 years.
Gill said she looks forward to the new job as the next step in her career, noting it is nearly twice as large as the 450member Ahwatukee chamber.
Gill has led the Ahwatukee Chamber for five years and is credited with increasing its membership by more than 25 percent and expanding its signature community event, the Red, White and Boom July 4 celebration.