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Oro Valley, incorporated in 1974, is a suburban town located 6 miles (9.7 km) north of Tucson, Arizona, USA in Pima County. According to a July 2008 estimate, the population of the town is 43,223, an increase from 29,700 in 2000 (according to the U.S. Census.) Dubbed the “Upscale Tech Mecca” of Southern Arizona by the Arizona Daily Star newspaper, Oro Valley is home to over 10 high tech firms and has a median household income nearly 50% higher than the U.S. median. The town is located approximately 110 miles (180 km) southeast of the state capital of Phoenix.
Oro Valley is situated in the western foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains at the base of Pusch Ridge. The Tortolita Mountains are located north of the town, and vistas of the Tucson valley are to the south. The town occupies the middle Cañada del Oro Valley. Oro Valley hosts a large number of residents from around the US who maintain second or winter homes in the town.
In March 2008, Fortune Small Business magazine named Oro Valley #44 on its list of “100 Best Places to Live and Launch” a business. The August 2008 issue of Family Circle magazine featured Oro Valley as one of the top ten best towns for families in America. Money magazine reported Oro Valley was one of the best places to live in 2007 and 2008. Nick Jr. Family Magazine rated Oro Valley as one of the “Ten Most Playful Towns in America” in 2004. The magazine used criteria such as schools performing in the top third of their states, favorable student-teacher ratios, general safety, library programs, and access to arts and recreation activities. Also, in 2005 Oro Valley was named one of “America’s Top-Rated Smaller Cities” in the publication by Grey House Publishing. The publication specifically noted the excellence of Oro Valley’s schools, medical facilities, and golf courses.
The town hosted the 2006 Pac-10 Women’s Golf Championships at the Oro Valley Country Club. Oro Valley Country Club was also the site for the 2006 Girl’s Junior America’s Cup, a major amateur golf tournament for the Western U.S. Annual events in Oro Valley include the Oro Valley Festival of the Arts, El Tour de Tucson bicycle race, the Tucson Marathon, the Cactus Speed Classic for inline skaters, and the Arizona Distance Classic.
Oro Valley Geography
Oro Valley is located at 32°25′16″N 110°58′34″W / 32.42111°N 110.97611°W / 32.42111; -110.97611 (32.421247, -110.975993) in the middle Cañada del Oro Valley. Oro Valley sits at an average elevation of 2,620 feet (800 m) above sea level.
According to the United States Census Bureau (2000), the town has a total area of 31.9 square miles (82.7 km²), of which, 31.8 square miles (82.4 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (0.31%) is water.
The topography of Oro Valley is distinguished by the Cañada del Oro riverbed bisecting the town. The eastern banks of the Cañada del Oro rise dramatically to the Santa Catalina Mountains. The western banks of the Cañada del Oro rise more gradually to a plateau and the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains farther north.
Notable geographic features include:
- Pusch Ridge (peak elevation: 5,361 ft.) & Pusch Ridge Wilderness Area
- Santa Catalina Mountains (peak elevation: 9,157 ft.)
- Cañada del Oro
- Tortolita Mountains (peak elevation: 4,652 ft.)
Oro Valley Parks
Major parks in Oro Valley include the oldest, James D. Kriegh Park (formerly Dennis Weaver Park) with an Olympic-sized swimming pool, recreational fields, and racquetball courts. The Cañada del Oro Riverfront Park features tennis and basketball courts, recreational fields, walking trails, and connections to equestrian trails along the Cañada del Oro. West Lambert Lane Park in Cañada Hills is a nature park with a number of hiking trails.
View from the Linda Vista Trail.The Naranja Town Site is also in the planning phase, and will ultimately be the largest recreational park in Southern Arizona. The site plans include a performing arts center, aquatics center, recreational fields, tennis, basketball, tether ball, and volleyball courts, canine center, BMX and skate park. However, plans for this park have been put on hold due to the defeat of the bond issue in the November 2008 election. The traditional anti-tax sentiment of the town’s conservative population saw fit to not support a liberal tax and spend program such as the bond issue.
Catalina State Park and the Coronado National Forest in the Santa Catalina Mountains form the eastern boundary of Oro Valley.
Linda Vista Trail, located east of Oracle Road on Linda Vista Drive, south of 1st Avenue, is a quiet, secluded, well-maintained nature trail that provides excellent views of Oro Valley, Pusch Ridge, and the surrounding vicinity.
La Cholla Airpark (FAA 57AZ), a private airport community, is also in northwestern Oro Valley. La Cholla Airpark was founded in 1972 and includes nearly 100 residential estates. A 4,500-foot (1,400 m) air strip is situated at the center of the community for member use.
Oro Valley Demographics
Oro Valley was the fifth fastest-growing place among all cities and towns in Arizona of any size from 1990 and 2000. Oro Valley is also one of 18 towns, cities, and census-designated places in Arizona with a per capita income over $30,000 USD, and one of 12 with a median household income over $60,000 USD.
As of the census of 2000, there were 29,700 people, 12,249 households, and 9,382 families residing in the town. The population density was 933.1 people per square mile (360.3/km²). There were 13,946 housing units at an average density of 438.2/sq mi (169.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 93.10% White, 1.06% Black or African American, 0.41% Native American, 1.92% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 1.83% from other races, and 1.56% from two or more races. 7.47% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 12,249 households out of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 69.8% were married couples living together, 4.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.4% were non-families. 19.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.76.
In the town the population was spread out with 21.5% under the age of 18, 4.5% from 18 to 24, 23.5% from 25 to 44, 27.7% from 45 to 64, and 22.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 94.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.
According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the town was $74,015, and the median income for a family was $80,807. Males had a median income of $55,522 versus $31,517 for females. The per capita income for the town was $31,134. 3.1% of the population and 2.4% of families were below the poverty line. 2.0% of those under the age of 18 and 2.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Oro Valley Economy
Oro Valley is emerging as a regional center for the biotech industry. Innovation Park is the high-tech center of Oro Valley, featuring a number of medical and biotech campuses. Primary employers in Oro Valley include:
- Integrated Biomolecule Corporation: IBC is a drug development and analytical chemistry services company. It also engages in the research, development, and synthesis of organic compounds.
- Ventana Medical Systems: The 182,000-square-foot (16,900 m2) international headquarters for the company are in Innovation Park. In 2008, Ventana was purchased by Roche Pharmaceuticals.
- Northwest Medical Center-Oro Valley: The 220,000-square-foot (20,000 m2) hospital, along with a 70,000-square-foot (6,500 m2) medical office building are in Innovation Park.
- Honeywell: Honeywell is the producer of electronic control systems and automation equipment.
- Sanofi-Aventis: The world’s third largest pharmaceutical company is in Innovation Park.
Oro Valley does not levy a local property tax. Commercial property is assessed at 25% of fair market value, while residential property is assessed at 10% of fair market value.
Oro Valley Golf & Resorts
The economy of Oro Valley is also fueled by the resort industry. Oro Valley features several resorts and country clubs, including:
- Oro Valley Country Club
- Hilton El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort
- Hilton El Conquistador Country Club in Cañada Hills
- The Golf Club at Vistoso
- Sun City Vistoso Golf Club http://suncity-vistoso.com/golf-tennis/golf-course.html
- The Stone Canyon Golf Club
- New resort planned for Stone Canyon
- Omni Tucson National Golf Resort & Spa (near Oro Valley)
- Westward Look Resort (near Oro Valley)
Oro Valley Education
Public schools in Oro Valley are administered by Amphitheater Public Schools of Tucson. Oro Valley is served by four elementary schools, two K-8 schools, one middle school, and two high schools (Canyon del Oro High School and Ironwood Ridge High School). In 2007, Newsweek Magazine rated both Canyon del Oro and Ironwood Ridge in the top 5% of public schools in the U.S., two of only 12 schools in Arizona included on the list.
Oro Valley also has three private schools, two of which include high schools (Pusch Ridge Christian Academy and Immaculate Heart Preparatory School.)
Public schools serving Oro Valley include:
- Canyon del Oro High School
- Ironwood Ridge High School
- Richard B. Wilson K-8 School
- Coronado K-8 School
- L.W. Cross Middle School
- Copper Creek Elementary School
- Painted Sky Elementary School
- Mesa Verde Elementary School
- Winifred Harelson Elementary School
- Oro Valley Sites of Interest
Oro Valley Media
Oro Valley is served by the following publications:
Arizona Daily Star: A morning daily paper. Sold in 2005 by Pulitzer, Inc. to Lee Enterprises.
Tucson Citizen: was an afternoon daily paper. The Tucson Citizen was the oldest continuously published newspaper in Arizona, established in 1870 as the “Arizona Citizen”. It was owned by Gannett but has since ceased publication as of late August 2009.
The Explorer: a free, weekly newspaper covering Northwest Tucson, Oro Valley, Marana and the communities of Catalina Foothills, Tortolita, Catalina and Oracle. The Explorer covers many aspects of suburban Tucson life, including high-school sports and performances, cultural events, features, and stories of political interest.
Tucson Weekly: an alternative publication that is distributed free at numerous locations around the greater Tucson area.
Oro Valley is also served by the following television networks: KVOA 4 (NBC), KGUN 9 (ABC), KOLD 13 (CBS), KMSB 11 (Fox), KTTU 18 (UPN), and KWBA 58 (WB). KUAT 6 is a PBS affiliate run by the University of Arizona.