By Luci Scott for Arizona Builder’s Exchange
Litchfield Park could be home to a new agricultural tourism site similar to Agritopia in Gilbert and The Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix, enterprises that bring visitors by combining a working farm with restaurants and retail.
“There could be vineyards and fields interspersed with some restaurants with agricultural type businesses, and maybe a brew pub,” said Mike Curley, an attorney handling the application process for the owner of the 65-acre parcel, Sun Health Properties Inc. and Sun Health Property Leasing.
The Litchfield Park City Council approved the concept for the northwest corner of Litchfield and Camelback roads, which allows not only an agritourism site, but also an expansion of the Sun Health Campus, which includes medical offices and La Loma Village, a retirement community owned by Sun Health Senior Living.
Documents filed with the city show Sun Health’s vision embraces activity zones for social interaction, outdoor dining, and entertainment and leisure activities.
“The goal is to ultimately create a mixed-use farming component on the Sun Health campus,” the paperwork says.
In addition to a working farm, the developer foresees “small retail spin-off businesses … and … entertainment and hotel elements associated with the agricultural tourism concept.”
Queen Creek Olive Mill is type of partner Sun Health seeks
The documents said that an example of the partner Sun Health is seeking is the Queen Creek Olive Mill, an agricultural tourism site with a working farm and public gathering spot that features products made from olive trees.
Principal components of La Loma Agri-Village could include a mix of organic gardens, a boutique hotel or bed and breakfast, a vineyard, flower gardens, Christmas tree lot, winery/distillery, community garden, olive grove, craft shows, wedding receptions, live music, restaurants, citrus orchard, craft brewery, an event staging area, bocce ball courts, a visitor center, art shows, and a data palm alley, a site that alternates columns with date palms.
More than a dozen hearings have been held about the agritourism site and the idea has been very well received, Curley said.
“People are very enthusiastic about it,” he said. “It will allow for themed events, such as a pumpkin patch at Thanksgiving and Christmas events. It’s an amenity that will be not only for the residents but also for the surrounding area.”
La Loma Village enjoys a unique history as the former homestead of A. Wallace and Edith Litchfield Denny.
In 1999, the Dennys, long-time residents of Litchfield Park, donated 353 acres to Sun Health Properties and stipulated that the land be used for health care related purposes that would benefit the community.
The land originally belonged to Edith’s father, Paul Litchfield, one time CEO and chairman of the board for Goodyear Tire and Rubber. He is a leading historical figure in the development of the Southwest Valley and the cities of Goodyear and Litchfield Park.
In 2001, Sun Health built a medical-office building, and later developed the Sun Health La Loma Village community, a three-story residential building, which opened in 2005.