SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (KSAZ) - Taxpayers in Scottsdale just helped buy a $4 million home near the popular Tom's Thumb trail head in Scottsdale. The city agreed to buy it in order to expand the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. As part of the deal, the man who owns the home will be allowed to live their rent-free for life. The City of Scottsdale has wanted to buy the land for nearly a decade and finally reached a deal earlier this month.
The 2,600 square foot home sits all alone in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The owner has lived there since 1999 before the area was part of the preserve. Now he's scored a pretty sweet deal. City leaders approved a plan to buy the house and land for $4 million, and he can stay in the home rent-free for the rest of his life.
"You have two unique things. It's a residence, and it's fully surrounded by the preserve. And you have nothing comparable as far as a property as that," said Preserve Director Kroy Ekblaw.
The City Council unanimously agreed to buy the home at a meeting earlier this month. They say it is a vital piece of land to make the 47 square mile preserve seamless.
"So it was just agreed to go ahead and let him stay on the property until he dies, and then get it taken care of as far as the purchase of it goes," said Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane.
Ekblaw says the home may eventually be torn down, and the land returned to its original state.
"At the time he does pass away or cedes the property, the right to the city, we would evaluate that, and one potential is we would simply remove the home and keep it as the intent of the preserve to keep it in a natural state," he said.
Mayor Lane says the city had no other choice in getting the land other than condemning the house.
"I don't know if it seemed to be overly generous, or where it might be. We're pretty careful about these things," said Lane.
The owner of the home could not be reached for comment. As part of the deal, the home can be rented out for 1/2 of the year. The $4 million comes from a sales tax specifically for desert preservation.