Oct 3, 2022 - Real Estate

Buckhorn Baths, vacant lots: What's next for these metro Phoenix eyesores

A roadside motel with a sign that says Buckhorn Baths Hotel.

Buckhorn Baths is an expansive property that's fallen into disrepair. Photo: Jessica Boehm/Axios

We feel pretty blessed to live in a city that is relatively new and well-maintained.

Yes, but: That doesn't mean there aren't a few places we'd like to see get some TLC.

  • Apparently, you agree! Here are some of the eyesores you've sent to us, and what we know about them and their future.
Buckhorn Baths, Mesa

What you're saying: "That property is a diamond in the rough waiting for an investor!" — Sharon R.

Flashback: In 1939, the owners of this property were drilling a well when they hit a natural hot spring reservoir with 112-degree water.

  • They began offering mineral baths at their roadside motel, which attracted famous baseball players, including Willie Mays and Gaylord Perry, who used them for their healing qualities.
  • The baths closed in 1999, followed by the hotel in 2007. The property has seriously decayed.

1 hopeful thing: A former Mesa resident recently purchased the property and is interested in preserving the mineral baths and adjacent wildlife museum, while adding a new boutique hotel and 200 luxury townhouses, the East Valley Tribune reported last summer.

Seventh Avenue and Bethany Home Road, Phoenix
A vacant lot.
A prime piece of property that's sat vacant for decades. Photo: Jeremey Duda/Axios

What you're saying: "I understand there is a veritable plethora of vacant lots in the city. But, one stands out to me since it’s maintained its status for over 40 years, at least!" — Matt G.

1 big opportunity: The land is zoned for medium-intensity commercial use, and it feels like prime real estate.

  • It's a bit outside the core area where most central Phoenix development is happening, but it's close enough that it's surprising that no one is building.
Third and Northern avenues, Phoenix
A vacant lot with a no trespassing sign.
A huge vacant lot at Third and Northern avenues. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

What you're saying: "It has been there FOREVER it seems and while I know it is just a dirt lot, it is confusing as to why nothing has been done on it for years." — Charlotte S.

State of play: The lot stretches from Third Avenue nearly to Central Avenue and is big enough for an apartment complex or commercial center, but it's zoned for single-family residences, which could explain why no developer has started turning dirt yet.

  • The area around the land is mostly single-family homes, so anyone who tries to change the zoning to create high-density housing is likely to have a major fight on their hands.
Main and 74th streets, Mesa
A vacant lot with weeds surrounded by a fence.
One of the vacant lots at 74th and Main streets in Mesa. Photo: Jessica Boehm/Axios

What you're saying: "There is a vacant lot for sale that is overgrown with weeds everywhere. Across 74th to the East is a smaller lot, bad shape." — Michael S.

1 bummer thing: We don't have much to report on these properties.

  • The city of Mesa tells us there are no active land-use applications.
  • Both lots are zoned for commercial development and one is for sale.

1 funny thing to go: Tonia T. suggested we take a look at the state legislature buildings. Touché.

  • Jeremy agrees and would like to take this opportunity to remind people that Frank Lloyd Wright designed an incredible proposal for a new state capitol called Oasis.
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