Pinal County has a number of rural cities that are poised for growth. Several are already gaining stature as up and coming cities with rising economic and population growth. Three of the fastest growing suburban cities in Pinal County are Casa Grande, Apache Junction/Gold Canyon and Florence. Additional cities with expected growth potential include Coolidge, Eloy and Maricopa. Due to the ever-expanding number of people looking for more rural communities in smaller towns, these cities are target areas for further growth.
The Pinal Freeway now called the Apache/Coolidge Corridor. It links U.S. 60 at Apache Junction to Interstate 10 at Eloy and will provide access to the expected 2 million residents by 2025. In order to plan for the growth, the city of Mesa is planning to sell a third of its land holdings in Pinal County to the cities of Eloy and Coolidge. As a result, the city will invest the revenue to boost employment in the area, designating a portion of the land for light industrial use.
The Pivotal Group has donated acreage to the Coolidge Unified School District for three K-8 schools and one high school. All four schools will be built within the master planned community Sandia, near Arizona 87 and Signal Peak Road. This community will feature an estimated 9000 homes for families and active adults.
Casa GrandePopulation: 44547 School District: Casa Grande No. 4 City of Casa Grande: 520-421-8600 www.casagrandeaz.gov
Casa Grande is a modern city located halfway between Tucson and Phoenix. At the interstate of I-10 and I-8, it offers all of the amenities of a larger city while still feeling like a small town. Newcomers considering making Casa Grande their new home are discovering the fantastic location, proximity to metropolitan areas and seven months of incredible weather. Not to mention the progressive positive community spirit and friendly, relaxed lifestyle. New movers relocating to Casa Grande immediately feel that this is the hometown they have been looking for.
Casa Grande sponsors a variety of lush area golf courses, parks, restaurants and shopping. From the small specialty shops of the beautifully restored historic downtown district to the Outlets at Casa Grande, this city has everything for both its residents and visitors. The gorgeous fall winter and spring weather is the perfect backdrop for jam-packed schedule of festivals, celebrations and events to area residents and visitors.
Apache Junction Gold CanyonPopulation: 32776 School District: Apache Junction Unified School District No. 43 City of Apache Junction: 480-474-5066 www.ajcity.net
Far enough away from the big city hustle and bustle, Apache Junction still offers the rural feel that many are looking for. The Apache Junction area is an inviting oasis and is fast becoming a popular destination for families, vacationers and businesses.
The Superstition Freeway brings the pristine foothills of the Superstition Mountains within reach of downtown Phoenix and the Southeast Valley. Southeast of Apache Junction nestled at the foot of the mountains is the growing community of Gold Canyon. This unincorporated community often described as part of Apache Junction, was created from a working cattle ranch.
The community has attracted retirees, families’ and nature lovers from all over the world. However, it still manages to retain its rural lifestyle. Gold Canyon includes the residential subdivisions of Superstition Mountain, Mountain Brook Village, Gold Canyon, Peralta Road and Queen Valley. The attraction of new housing developments, golf courses, outdoor recreation and rural lifestyle will make this city a major growth area.
An average of more than 300 sunny days per year and moderate temperatures, allow for many hours of hiking and horseback riding the trails of Superstition Mountain. These historic and beautiful mountains offer a chance to step back in history. Trails start at the Lost Dutchman State Park and guides hikers to historic trails through elevations of 5000 feet.
FlorencePopulation: 23685 School District: Florence Unified No. 350 Town of Florence: 520-868-7500 www.florenceaz.gov
Florence is often referred to as the best little western town in the state. The fifth oldest settlement in the state of Arizona, Florence is located in central Arizona at the junction of US Highway 79 and Arizona 287. Indian agent Colonel Levi Ruggles staked and platted the area in 1866. Eventually, the town was incorporated in 1908 and today is the Pinal County seat. The Territorial Prison was moved from Yuma to Florence in 1909 and is a large employer for the surrounding town. Due to irrigation from the nearby Gila River and the completion of the Coolidge Dam, this area became the agricultural center of Pinal County throughout the 1900’s.
Main Street is much as it was in the late 1800’s. As a matter of fact, Florence is a town of historical landmarks. By the same token, Florence has more buildings listed on the National Register than any other town or city in Arizona. The city of Florence offers a small western community lifestyle, less than an hour away from Phoenix and Tucson. Furthermore, the public school district offers an elementary, junior high and high school. Additionally, the Central Arizona College District located 18 miles west of Florence and serves all of Pinal County and is also a large employer in the area.
The opening of the Coolidge Dam transformed this desert area into rich farmland. As a result, it is the commercial center of Arizona’s cotton industry. Located between Phoenix and Tucson, Coolidge is a regional trade and service center that provides agricultural producers, cattle ranchers and farm families with equipment, supplies and services. Many jobs are created by the Municipal Airport city services and Central Arizona College. Historical attractions bring large numbers of visitors each year to Florence and Coolidge. These attractions include, The Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, The Coolidge Historical Society McFarland State Park, The Pinal County Historical Society Museum and the 1891 Pinal County Courthouse.
Located in the heart of Pinal County along Arizona Highway 84 just off Interstate 10 is the town of Eloy. Founded in 1902, the city’s name was changed in 1919 to Cotton City due to the influx of the large cotton industry. However, it was changed back to Eloy in 1919 and incorporated in 1949. Eventually, agriculture and cattle ranching replaced the cotton crops. The area offers a variety of housing options, including older adobe homes, new homes and condos.
The City of Maricopa
This city became Arizona’s 88th incorporated city in 2003. In the mid 1800’s then known as Maricopa Wells, the town became a stage stop for the Butterfield Overland Mail Line. This mail line stretched from San Antonio to San Diego. Eventually, Maricopa settled into a slower paced agricultural area and created a farm economy after rail use was halted in the 1930’s. Today the City of Maricopa is one of the most productive farming areas in the state.