Anthem, Arizona is situated about 30 minutes north of downtown Phoenix. It is an unprecedented development conceived by the Del Webb corporation (now part of Pulte), which had previously focused on retirement communities.
Anthem is a family development, in some ways like other planned communities but with a list of amenities that has made it an attractive place for families from around the country to relocate.
Below is a snapshot – by no means exhaustive – of our community.
Anthem is being built on 5,856 acres, or nearly 10 square miles, of desert foothills about 5 miles north of the Carefree Highway. It straddles I-17. Planning documents required 36 percent of the total area to be set aside as open space, including 291 acres of open hillside.
The town's elevation ranges from 1,760 to 2,428 feet, according to Del Webb documents.
Del Webb opened 26 model homes in March 1999.
It is a work in progress. As of August 2005, about 8,000 homes had closed, according to Del Webb, which has since merged with Pulte homes. About 1,000 of those units were built by other companies: Centex, Engle Homes, US Homes and Hacienda Builders.
The development is slated for completion in 2008 with 12,000 homes. Thirty-six percent of the land area has been preserved as open space.
Anthem's population is uncertain. It grew from an estimated 2004 people in the year 2000 to roughly 21,120 in mid-August 2005, according to a story in the Sept. 1, 2005 issue of In&Out magazine.
The estimate is based on the 8,000 completed and sold homes multiplied by 2.64 people per home, a multiplier considered accurate for the North Valley. At buildout in 2008, by these estimates, Anthem will have a population of some 31,600.
Anthem is a mix of families, retirees and empty nesters. Demographic information is hard to come by for such a fast-growing area, but Anthem is thought to have among the highest level of disposable income in the immediate area.
Anthem's central feature is its Community Center, a sprawling facility available only to residents. It contains a full-size outdoor swimming pool with high dive, a waterpark with slides, and a full gymnasium for basketball, weightlifting, aerobics and other classes.
Some 2,500 residents a day pass through the center.
An adjacent 63-acre Community Park includes ball fields, a fishing pond, small-gauge train, skate park, and an outdoor concert area. Two golf courses are situated in the gated Country Club section.
Various events and festivals take advantage of the Community Park to draw regional musicians and artists. Anthem even hosts its own annual fireworks show.
The community's Boulder Creek High School, which opened in 2004, has a performing art's center, used by the budding local and regional performance groups such as the Starlight Community Theater group and the ProMusica Arizona Chorale and Orchestra.
Maricopa County's new North Valley Regional Library is also located at Boulder Creek High School, on Gavilan Peak Parkway.
The portion of Anthem west of I-17 is within the Phoenix city limits. The part east of the freeway, which includes the bulk of the development's property, is in Maricopa County. Unlike many towns and cities, Anthem is not a single, incorporated entity, so while businesses and residents may view it as a cohesive community, Anthem is not really a town by traditional definition.
As with many planned developments, Anthem has strict rules for landscaping, upkeep and color choices of home exteriors. Residents pay fees that go toward maintenance of public areas.
The overall community is governed by the Anthem Community Council, a non-profit corporation set up by Del Webb. Additional governance is provided by the Anthem Country Club Community Association, Inc. and the Anthem Parkside Community Association, Inc.
The Community Council will transition from Pulte-control to being resident-run in April, 2008 based on results of elections in January.
Anthem is a hub of retail commerce in the North Valley. The Outlets at Anthem, independently owned by Craig Realty Group, had 3.5 million visitors in 2004, with 60 percent of them touristing in from outside Arizona and even from other countries.
Local businesses are also thriving, with competition growing every month as Anthemites gain choices in where they shop and eat.
The Anthem Chamber of Commerce included 150 members as of August 2005, up from about 95 a year prior. There are local branches of Rotary and Kiwanis.
As of mid-August 2005, there were 151 retail store fronts in Anthem (yes, we counted). That included medical and other professional services but excluded the Outlet mall and many home-run businesses. Since then, dozens of new businesses have opened, and even as of late 2007 several new offices and retail spaces are under construction.