Flora Mae Statler would have quite a surprise if she were alive to see what has happened in Surprise, the small Arizona town that she founded in 1938. Legend (and property records) has it that Statler owned the land and named it Surprise, some say as a joke, thinking that the town would never amount to much. As it turns out, Statler had it wrong.
While Surprise may have started out as a pair of houses and a gas station on a 1.6 square mile stretch desert land, it has blossomed into a thriving city of 117, 517, and in recent years has been the second fastest growing municipality in the metropolitan Phoenix area. The lion's share of that growth took place between 2000 and 2010. In that ten year period, Surprise grew from a population of 30,848 to 117,517, or growth of 281 percent, according to United States Census Bureau figures from both periods.
Part of the growth was due to the development of Sun City Grand, an upscale retirement community developed by the Del Webb property development company. Del Webb had already developed the original Sun City, an unincorporated area located about five miles northwest of Surprise. That property is adjacent to another Del Webb development, Sun City West. The result of the Sun City Grand opening was a housing boom and the population rising from 10,187 in the mid 1990's to 75,000 by 2004. The boom is still in with new residential and commercial developments, and the developers offering new homes at low market prices in the still-recovering real estate market.
Surprise continues to grow with residential and commercial development. The City of Surprise has a program that encourages new development to be energy efficient. The LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) program offers rebates of a percentage of building fees for buildings that meet standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Shopping and DiningnnResidents of Surprise are fortunate to have lots of options with regard to shopping – there are numerous malls and storefronts that feature a mix of national brands and local boutiques. There is more to come with the in-progress development of Prasada Regional Mall, part of the Prasada master-planned communitythat is currently under construction, and which will be the largest regional mall in the entire state. Target and a Wal-Mart are slated to open in 2012. Already open in in the regional mall are Fry's Marketplace, First Bank of Arizona, and 303 AutoShow at Prasada.
Another mall, Surprise Town Center, is anchored by Home Depot and Wal-Mart. Other stores include Pier One Imports, Michael's Arts & Crafts, and PetSmart. Dining choices at the Town Center include Applebees, Chuy's Mesquite Broiler, Rubios Mexican Grill, IHOP, Panda Express, and Starbucks.
For those interested in supporting local merchants, Bell Mar Plaza is home to Barnaby Street Shoppes, which opened in 2010. The walkways of Barnaby Street are lined with cobblestone and party lights hanging overhead. The shopping center is patterned after Carnaby Streetin London, England, and is an incubator of sorts for independent businessesthat might ordinarily not be able to afford a storefront. Business types include art brokers, jewelry shops, a wig store and two stores that sell handmade local clothing. Food choices at Barnaby Street include a Hurricane Grill, 5 and Diner, and Bite Me Breads and Cookies.
An array of upscale restaurants make up the Surprise food scene featuring cuisines from steakhouses, Italian, French, Mexican and more. For something different, the Amuse Bouche Gourmet Bistro and Cateringfeatures French bistro fare by day and a gourmet menu in the evening. Another bistro, Vogue Bistro, features contemporary American cuisine but with a French flare. MeiWei China Bistroblends eastern and western dishes with "MeiWei" ("Delicious" in Chinese) results.
Parks and RecreationThose that favor an active lifestyle will find it in Surprise. As one would expect, there is an abundance of golf courses, many as part of master-planned communities. Hiking and bicycling are also popular activities given the close proximity of the White Tank Mountain Regional Parkwhere people can hike or bike to a pristine waterfall. White Tank is also a local favorite for camping, horseback riding, and late night star gazing.
The local Parks and Facilities departmentoperates and maintains 14 parks, 4 recreation centers and 2 municipal swimming pools. One of those pools is the Surprise Aquatic Center, a 10,562 square foot complex that is home to 2 water slides, a vortex whirlpool, a competition pool and two diving bells.
The Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complexoffers lessons for beginners and league sports for the more experienced player. Racquetball, table tennis and fitness classes are other activities at the center. The club is also home to the yearly Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships, which feature professionals like John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova.
LivingIn a recentsurvey of residents, 93 percent of respondents said that they are happy to live in Surprise for a variety of reasons including safety, cleanliness, quality of services, and an overall openness and acceptance of diverse backgrounds.
Residents of Surprise are a mix of retirees and families, most of which are well-educated and in mid-to-upper income brackets. Living a healthy lifestyle is amongst the top reasons that people live in Surprise, and a focus on the environment is part of that. For that reason, the annual "Be Green & Be Healthy Fair" is a popular local event each April. The one day event features exhibitors and an array of health-related and eco-friendly products and services.
Couples and families stroll through the local farmer's marketevery Saturday in search of organic fruits and vegetables, baked goods and other edible treats. The younger segment of the community looks forward to regular activitiesput on by town leaders. The city even has its own Facebook page, which has received more than 13,000 "Like's".
Schools, Health, TransportationStudents in Surprise attend schools in the Dysart Unified School District. Charter schools also make up part of the academic landscape in Surprise. There are 19 elementary schools for grades K-6. With more than 800 students, Surprise Elementary Schoolteaches grades K-8. There are ten high schools in Surprise, including the charter Paradise Honors High School, which received a distinguished "10" score recently from GreatSchools.org.
Surprise is served by a number of doctors and medical facilities, many of which favor an integrated approach, blending western and alternative treatments. For conventional treatment and medical issues that provide hospital care, it's a quick drive to any of the Banner Health Systems facilitiesin nearby Sun City. NextCare Urgent Careis open seven days a week for emergencies and after-hour appointments. Adelante Healthcareoperates a multifaceted medical facility at their West Bell Road location.
Valley Metroprovides regular bus service in and out of Surprise to destinations like Phoenix and Scottsdale. A convenient Dial-A-Rideis also available to every resident of Surprise, and the vans are wheelchair accessible. Surprise is about 35 miles from Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, and several shuttle services are available.
To work with a team experienced with listing and selling Surprise Residential Real Estate contact Tony & Suzanne today!
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Updated: 2nd October, 2023 12:05 AM (UTC).