Many of us know the tale of Sun City’s opening day when thousands of cars lined up along Grand Avenue to see the oasis in the desert created by Del Webb back on Jan. 1, 1960. And the rest was history, as they say.
Now fast forward 60-plus years and we find ourselves back again on Grand Avenue (nearly) ready to open a brand-new facility to the Recreation Centers of Sun City. With no fitness center or swimming pool, calling it another “rec center” seems a bit of an oxymoron. But what a “grand” addition to the community this new facility will be!
Once the long-time home of Furr’s Family Dining (a landmark for many early Sun City residents) to the more recent transformation into a Chinese buffet restaurant, the property located at 10415 W. Grand Avenue was purchased by RCSC back in 2016.
While many were concerned about this expenditure, the board knew the great value that this diamond in the rough could become for the community. The lack of space for clubs, meeting rooms and more has plagued the development and enhancement of activities that could be offered to qualified property owners and those wishing to participate for a very long time. This really was a great deal and too good to pass up.
Unfortunately, like many properties along Grand Avenue over the past decade, after the purchase of this building by RCSC security fencing was installed and things got boarded up. Many continued to grumble about the purchase as time went by.
However, the hard work of planning and determining what should go into this “new” building was just beginning.
The Ad Hoc Long Range Planning Committee soon formed and began the information gathering process and planning for the property. Months of interviewing and re-interviewing clubs that were interested in relocating to this new space took place along with three town hall-style meetings to get input from the community about possible non-club uses. Nearly 20 ideas were ultimately proposed.
By December 2017, after countless hours of meetings and discussion, the final recommendation of the committee for the Grand Avenue project were approved by the board.
But the hard work was far from over. As they say, all good things come to those who wait and that time has finally arrived for those clubs that were ultimately selected to occupy the remodeled, renovated and remarkable new building on Grand Avenue.
One of the community suggestions, taking advantage of this high visibility location, was to offer the Sun City Posse space for a satellite office in the building. These dedicated volunteers are an invaluable asset for all who reside here and their presence and patrols throughout the community is truly a Godsend. Besides providing neighborhood patrols for residents and much more, their presence along this major thoroughfare should give us a feeling of a bit more security.
On the other side of the entryway across from the Posse, you’ll find what we’ve decided to call Sonoran Room. A spacious meeting room that will serve many purposes and equipped with a warming kitchen area from where refreshments can be served.
The clubs finally chosen to relocate to the Grand Center building during phase one are the Camera Guild of Sun City (currently located at Sundial Recreation Center, 14801 N. 103rd Ave.), Sun City Clay Club (from Lakeview Recreation Center, 10626 W. Thunderbird Blvd.) and Jewelry at Oakmont (who will be having to change their name as a result of this move to Jewelry, Stained Glass and More on Grand). The Sun City Garden Club’s office (currently at Oakmont Recreation Center, 10725 W. Oakmont Drive) will now be in the Grand building along with a new state-of-the-art greenhouse structure, which will help to augment their community garden operations at Greenway Road and 91st Avenue.
According to Camera Guild President John Wood, the club is grateful that the space was designed truly for their intended uses.
“We’ll have three times the space of our old club room, with the ability to have separate areas for project work and training sessions. Having both lab and studio areas is remarkable, and the display space will make our quarterly First Friday Gallery events really special for club members and attendees,” he said.
Jewelry/Stained Glass and More can’t wait to have enough room so that club members don’t have to work on various projects in shifts.
“We’ve been so pinched for room since we added stained glass two years ago that everyone is really, really excited about moving into this new space,” President John Schmidt shared. This club will nearly double their space by comparison to their previous location.
The greenhouse facility for the Garden Club has members dreaming about all its potential that would be impossible without this addition.
“We met with University of Arizona agricultural department staff early in the planning process, who shared their knowledge and showed us the benefits of having a ‘wet wall’ to enhance this operation. Having more storage and office area will also be wonderful,” said Garden Club President Marty Skagen.
The move to this new building is going to be wonderful for members of the Sun City Clay Club, according to club President Pam Hermann.
“So much larger than our current space (at Lakeview) and everything will be new and fresh. I think all the clubs moving into this new beautiful building will benefit from the location,” she said.
All of the clubs going into this renovated building have expressed how grateful they were to be chosen for this project and how excited they are to move to these new facilities. Cardholder input and collaboration during each step of the process have made this space something that everyone can truly be proud of. I wish to express my personal thanks for the hard work and dedication from those who helped make this “grand” project a reality.
Now let’s look forward to starting construction of “Building Two” – the future home for the Vintage Vehicles Club and an indoor archery range for the Sportsmen’s Club of Sun City.
Editor’s Note: Dan Schroeder is Recreation Centers of Sun City board president for 2020.