Prior to the area’s development into the community it is known today, the name “Ahwatukee” referred, at times, to a since-demolished house that sits in an area near Sequoia Trails and Appaloosa Drive, west of the Warner-Elliot Loop.[17]

At least two major thoroughfares in today’s Ahwatukee are named after people who claimed lands in the area, in the decades following the signing of the Homestead Act in 1862.[18] Warner Road was named after Samuel Warner of Kansas, while Elliot Road was named after Reginald Elliott of California.[18] Both claimed lands in an area now known as Tempe.[18] A third man, Arthur Hunter, claimed land within an area now known as Ahwatukee. The street known today as 48th Street was, for a time, named Hunter Drive, after Arthur Hunter.[18] Hunter is rumored to have, in the 1940s, disassembled and buried in the Ahwatukee desert a Studebaker car purported owned by Al Capone.[18]

Development of Ahwatukee began in 1970, when Presley Development Company, led by Randall Presley, bought 2,080 acres (840 ha) of land.[19] The land included Ahwatukee Ranch, by then owned by a land syndicate led by an Arizona State UniversityEnglish professor, as well as land owned by a local moving and storage firm.[21] Presley originally planned for the area to be a retirement community, but later devised a mix of retirement living, family living, and light commercial zoning for the area.[21]

Presley Development was noted to have a role in Ahwatukee eventually becoming a part of Phoenix, instead of neighboring Chandler or Tempe, through a handshake deal Maricopa County Supervisor Bob Stark, who was also an attorney with Presley Development, made with Mayor of Phoenix John D. Driggs.[22] However, Chandler and Tempe officials were noted to have refused offers of annexing Ahwatukee.[19][22]

Phoenix annexed the area in stages, from 1980 to 1987.[19] It has been suggested that Phoenix’s annexation of Ahwatukee had, to a degree, affected Tempe’s future development.[23]

Plans for Ahwatukee were approved by Maricopa County in November 1971, and 17 model homes were opened in an area near 50th Street and Elliot Road in 1973.[19][24]

The area’s first elementary school, Kyrene de los Lomas, opened in 1976, while Mountain Pointe High School opened as the area’s first high school in 1991.[19]

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