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To better understand Superstition Vista’s possibilities, a team of researchers crafted six plausible development scenarios. Each scenario represents different land use policies, infrastructure investments, and energy and water conservation strategies. Each scenario acted as a story of how Superstition Vistas could look, feel, and operate in the future. The scenarios ranged from continuing current development patterns to high-density green development with extensive open space protection. Each scenario has the same transportation infrastructure that includes existing regional roads and a proposed network of new regional passenger rail, freeways, and parkways, and internal road and transit systems.  Each scenario was evaluated for its impact on economic development, housing, livability, and the environment. The evaluation compared the relative benefits of various choices. Important questions were answered such as, “What reduces the carbon footprint the most:  increasing density, providing mixed-use centers, or improving the car fleet efficiency?”

Some of the most important findings of the scenario analysis project were:

  • Building a sustainable Superstition Vistas, which can serve as a new center in the Arizona Sun Corridor, is physically feasible.
  • Strategic planning and investment will yield significant benefits over the “no plan” option, both in terms of financial return and in producing a more sustainable, equitable, and economically viable Superstition Vistas region.
  • Sustainable or “green” building practices can be highly effective at reducing carbon footprint and water consumption, but the more expensive techniques can outstrip benefits. A strategic approach should be used to select the most cost-effective practices to guide development.
  • The benefits of a sustainable transportation system, robust local economy, and balanced housing supply are integrally linked – an overarching development strategy for Superstition Vistas that does not incorporate each element will result in sub-par results and impose costs on future generations.

The Four Original Scenarios:  A, B, C, and D

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  • Improves on current Phoenix-area development trends
  • Densities are 20 percent higher than Phoenix with more open space and parks.
  • There are three times more jobs per household than exist in Pinal County today, but not enough to support all households.
  • Development consists mostly of single-family detached housing, office parks, and shopping centers. Land use and transportation is focused on car travel.
  • There is some commuter rail and light rail service but little development around the transit system. Sacramento and Provo, Utah, are cities with similar density.

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  • Scenario B has a similar density to Scenario A but is designed around pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use areas near transit and major roadways.
  • There are urban, town and village centers with attached housing, retail and employment.
  • Scenario B attracts employers and has a better balance of jobs and housing than Scenario A.
  • Land use and transportation is designed to facilitate pedestrian, transit and bicycle travel,rather than just the car.
  • There is greater habitat preservation, less foothill development, and a smaller footprint than Scenario A.
  • Denver and Pasadena are cities with similar density.

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  • Scenario C has higher densities than Scenario B and a smaller footprint.
  • It concentrates 20 percent more mixed-use, and pedestrian-friendly development around transit hubs.
  • The jobs-housing balance is similar to Scenario B with jobs in town centers.
  • Housing consists of more multi-family housing, townhouses and small lot homes.
  • Streets form a connected pattern to disperse traffic and increase efficiency, and the land use and transportation pattern facilitates pedestrian, transit, and bicycle travel.
  • Hilly areas are left largely undeveloped. Wildlife corridors along washes are wider than in Scenario B, with additional open space between urban centers.
  • Santa Monica and Burbank are cities with similar densities.

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  • Scenario D makes natural landscape protection a high priority and has a population density higher than most cities in America.
  • It has the smallest footprint of all the scenarios.
  • Employment and housing is focused in four major urban centers.
  • Two-thirds of housing consists of townhouses, apartments and condominiums.
  • Residents and employees get around easily on foot, bike, or rail and bus transit.
  • Scenario D has no development in the foothill areas and the largest preservation of habitat.
  • This scenario has the most open space but fewer urban parks because of its concentrated urban area.
  • Redondo Beach and Miami are cities with similar density.

Scenario X and Scenario S

Scenario X represented what it might look if Superstition Vistas pursued typical Phoenix-area development. Scenario S is a composite of the best aspects of Scenarios B, C, and D, and ultimately became the optimized scenario.

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SCENARIO S: Optimized Scenario

  • Scenario S was developed as a hybrid of the best performing features of Scenarios B, C, and D.
  • Scenario S has a housing profile that more closely matches the likely housing needs of the future population.
  • Housing consists of a larger provision of small-lot single family homes and more townhomes than in Scenario C and D.
  • Scenario S is built upon a tight grouping of regional centers, served by upland neighborhood centers.
  • Transportation investments a regional commuter rail system that connects with downtown Phoenix.

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  • Scenario X was designed to reflect a plausible future in which no coordinated or advanced planning has been done for Superstition Vistas.
  • Scenario X reflects the suburban-style development patterns that have predominated in Arizona and much of the nation for the last 50 years.
  • Housing densities are generally low, transportation infrastructure tends to favor automobiles over walking, biking, and transit, and the natural features in Superstition Vistas (washes, habitat areas) are encroached upon.

Superstition Vistas Scenario Report [PDF, 9 MB]

This report was released in August 2009 and provides detailed information on each of the four original scenarios in addition to background information on the project.

Scenario A-D Comparison

Summary of Scenarios S and X

Read more about the lessons learned from the scenario development process which led to the vision!