By Bill Rundle
Sometime prior to 1981, the Hill property consisting of the land from the current west edge to the current east edge and running north to the Rillito river was sold by Dr. and Mrs. Donald Hill to Cienega, a real estate development company. They developed the concept of dredging the lake to build up the land north of and around the lake to raise the level high enough to make it above the 100 year flood level. At that time there was a very small pond where the lake is now and the water was used to irrigate hay in the field north of the lake.
The first plan was for 103 lots with a single entrance which now is the west entrance. A further development would have put another 25 houses in the area where Bosque Creek is located.
Cienega sold the property to the Akins Company, a California developer. Construction got underway in 1981 on an initial 20 houses including the 4 model homes on Hill Place Drive. At the end of 1981 mortgage interest rates were very high at 18-20% and the sale of the original 20 slowed down. The Akins Company, sometime in the summer or fall of 1982 went bankrupt. Their bank in San Francisco continued the construction until 47 of the original Hill Farm houses had been built. Sales were slow and they called a halt to building more houses.
Akins relinquished their option on the Bosque Creek area to Cienega who announced plans for 90 houses where the original plan was for 25. The first 20 Hill Farm homeowners banded together to fight that move and succeeded in getting a new plan for Hill Farm consisting of 104 lots and an additional East entrance. Cienega agreed that the Bosque Creek subdivision would use only the East entrance, which at that time had no houses.
Tom Doucette, who had been the manager for the Akins Company, got control of the undeveloped lots and built 4 different models at the East end of the lake and proceeded to build houses on the 57 undeveloped lots. By that time mortgage rates had moved down to more reasonable levels. The starting date for the Doucette houses is not known but was still underway in 1989.
The flood of 1983 caused the Core of Engineers to condemn the undeveloped Bosque Creek lots near the river so that only 70 houses were built in place of the 90 planned.
Introduction to Hill Farm (PDF) - This is a re-creation the original Hill Farm sales brochure that was produced by The Aikens Company in 1982.
Location & Maps - Google Earth Satellite View
The History of the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood - U of A Archives