Desert Camp Site Improvement Project

The Desert Camp Site Improvement Project (DCSIP) is phase one of the DC Ranch Master Plan.

Resident input drove a design that maximizes available space, preserves existing unique characteristics, represents the DC Ranch aesthetic, integrates seamlessly into the environment and existing site, and will foster resident engagement and enjoyment now and well into the future. The plan features include an expanded fitness center, dedicated fitness studio, preservation of important viewpoints, and resident gathering space for enjoying coffee and conversation with neighbors. The total square footage of the center is proposed to increase from 7,362 square feet to approx. 15,000 square feet. The improvements will also include a walking path around the center, and additional pickleball and tennis courts.

Project Status

In mid-March 2023, as the design team of Haydon Building Corp. and Architekton prepared to submit the plans to the City of Scottsdale for final permitting, they were advised that, because the center site falls within the AO floodplain, the building would need to comply with FEMA requirements. As designed, the building did not meet those requirements. So, the design team pivoted and began to redesign. At resident-attended meetings in both March and April, the Board engaged in rigorous dialogue regarding the various design options.

The design team evaluated four options, all comparable in cost, for the Board’s consideration, as follows:

  • A: Keep existing design and install floodproofing measures.
  • B: Expand building to west.
  • C: Create separate buildings.
  • TH: Consider constructing new fitness studio and center on The Homestead Site.

Option A proposed keeping the design “as is” with modifications to meet FEMA requirements. This option required installation of an expansion joint to establish the expansion as a separate structure, plus dryproofing measures. Flood (or dry) proofing would be required up to 6’ and features installed so devices can bolt on to doors and windows (similar to hurricane preparation). Alternatively, clear story walls would need to be 6’ high. More demolition work is necessary to fully separate the structure. Design elements would need to change to adapt to FEMA requirements. For example, operable slider doors would not be acceptable, and would be replaced with double doors with mullions to be able to bolt on flood shields. This option requires studies, creation of a storm warning plan, guaranteed seepage factors, dryproofing deployment, and other factors. Due to cost, liability, and aesthetics, this option was eliminated by the Board at the March 2023 board meeting.

Option C was for a campus-like environment with three separate buildings at different elevations, including a separate fitness studio building and a standalone fitness center on the northeast/east side of the existing building. Both buildings would be elevated to meet FEMA requirements.

The Board also considered constructing a new fitness studio and center on The Homestead parcel, as it is not in a floodplain. However, because new lockers would be required, there was no cost savings, and the limitations on the property, this option was not pursued.

Ultimately, the Board selected Option B. This option involves modest modifications to the existing building and adding the expansion to the west. Parking would be revised slightly. Because of the grade to the west, the differential is only 1’, which would require a ramp and/or stairs to transition between the two spaces.

In this new design, residents will enter the lobby. After checking in, to the left you can find meeting rooms, a gathering corral, seating for reading and playing cards, and access to the locker rooms and the beautiful north patio with breathtaking views of the McDowells. The fitness room will be converted to a full service meeting room.

If you turn to the right after entering the lobby, you will find the fitness studio with views over the pool, and access to the fitness center with views over the valley. An additional restroom and storage complete the space.

View updated site plan | View proposed floor plan

Building and site masterplan drawings reflect the latest design as of April 2023 and are subject to change based on City of Scottsdale review and requirements.

Under any of these scenarios, the design of the tennis and pickleball courts remains the same. More information on the courts can be found below.

Next Steps

Due to the need to redesign the project, the timeline for construction has moved. Originally anticipated in summer 2023, the groundbreaking will likely take place in fall 2023, after the design is complete and has gone through the City of Scottsdale and Covenant Commission review processes, followed by bidding and negotiation of final price. The scope may need to be adjusted depending on bid amounts. Throughout, regular project updates will be posted on this page.

The board considered phasing the project, beginning with the courts as phase I and the building as phase II to expedite completion of the courts. However, this option was not pursued as it would have added approximately $350,000 to the overall project cost. Instead, the design team is working diligently to prepare the project for fall 2023 groundbreaking pending City of Scottsdale approvals.

Tennis Courts
Two additional courts will be added. It is interesting to note that the initial plans for the Desert Camp Community Center from the late 1990s anticipated that the site would have a total of four courts in the future.

Pickleball Courts
The plan calls for demolition of the two existing courts and construction of four courts.

Due to proximity of the courts to residential areas, an acoustician was hired to conduct a sound study and make recommendations to mitigate noise from the courts. Complete elimination of noise is impossible; however, there are measures that can be employed to reduce noise. Three options that the team explored are “green” paddles, Acoustifence and a masonry/stucco barrier wall. The necessary height for the fence/wall to make any measurable difference in sound was 10’. A wall of this height is not permitted on the property. For this reason, as well as the extensive cost (over $150,000) and other site restrictions that limit the effectiveness of the wall, this option is not viable. The Board has directed the design team and Council staff to develop policies, including use of “green” paddles and limiting hours of play, to mitigate sound impacts on neighboring properties. Those will be created and launched prior to opening of the new courts.

Click here to learn more about the development of the master plan and beginning stages of the DCSIP project prior to 2021.

In early 2021, the Board contracted with Holly Street Studio to review and validate the priorities, engage with the community, and create a phased plan for the identified amenity improvements. This plan was adopted by the Board in September 2021. Read the final report.

In late 2021, the Board released an RFP for design-build services for the priority project, which included an expanded fitness center, dedicated fitness studio, two additional pickleball courts, two new tennis courts, a walking path, and gathering space at Desert Camp Community Center.

After a rigorous selection process, Haydon Building Corp. and Architekton, both with significant experience constructing top quality community centers, were chosen to lead the project. The project design kicked off in late spring 2022. Focus groups with resident stakeholders were held in summer 2022 to gather input on each of the design spaces, from pickleball courts to meeting rooms.

In fall 2022, the DC Ranch Community Council and the design-build team of Haydon Building Corp. and Architekton held an open house to present an overview of the proposed site improvements for Desert Camp Community Center and gather input.

DCSIP FAQs Outreach Milestones

The bulk of funding for this project will originate from the Council Capital Fund.

When the community was set up by DMB, the developer, DMB implemented a transfer or “benefit” fee of ½ of 1% of the resale value of every parcel in DC Ranch, both residential and commercial. This fee was specifically designated to fund programs and enhancements that keep DC Ranch vibrant and relevant and bring value to residents, both current and future. The strong home sales from 2019-2022 enabled the Council to set aside excess benefit fees for this project, totally $7.5m. A loan is being considered for the gap in the project cost vs. savings. Currently anticipated at $2.5m, the final numbers will be determined once the project is bid and a guaranteed maximum price is established.