“It was magical, and I think it still is magical.”
It’s tough to argue with Bonnie Smith, who was the seventh homeowner in the Country Club, for having such fond memories of her 20 years in this community. After all, few would know better than her about the path Anthem has taken from its opening in 1999. In addition to being a homeowner, Smith also worked for Del Webb in the Anthem offices during those early “pioneer days.” She truly has the unique perspective of being in on the ground floor as both a resident and an employee who helped shape Anthem’s development.
The Anthem we all know today is a far cry from what those pioneer owners experienced 20 years ago. Back then, residents traveled on a two-lane highway to get to the “island” – a secluded, brand-new Del Webb development in the far reaches of the North Valley. Smith recalls that it seemed like Anthem was in the “middle of nowhere.” For local realtors it took some convincing, or “educating” as Smith puts it, to sell the dream of what Anthem could become.
It was akin to rolling the dice on the unknown.
“We would tell the realtors to put their clients in their car and when they got to Bell Road, look at their watch,” Smith recalled. “You’ll be here in 12 minutes.”
It was key to sell the balance of having the metropolitan feel of Phoenix just minutes away, but also being able to enjoy a quieter family life in Anthem. Getting potential homebuyers to see the allure and promise of what Anthem could become was a fun challenge to Smith and her colleagues. They wanted to show people that they could work, live and play all in one community. The big-town feel of a metro was just down the road, but Anthem could offer a bit of an oasis from the hustle and bustle of big-city life.
Anthem’s signature events, like Anthem Days and Music in May, played an important part in the development of a young and growing Anthem, according to Smith.
“It was an exciting time [referring to the first Anthem Days],” said Smith. “It was one more way to get the public up here and show them we had a lifestyle that included businesses.”
A family affair
It truly is a family affair when it comes to the Smiths and their history in Anthem. Bonnie and her husband Robert’s daughter, Tannisha, has been an Anthem homeowner herself for six years, after having spent some time growing up here and then venturing away for a while. Spending time together is something Smith cherishes, and many of her favorite memories of her time in Anthem are tied to experiences with friends and family.
Smith travels as part of her current job; she’s an account manager with First American Title, and she gets to see first-hand how Anthem stacks up to other communities. She considers herself blessed to be able to live and work in such a special place.
“I see the other communities and what they have to offer,” said Smith, “and there’s no other place like Anthem.”
As growth and development continues to take place around the Valley, Smith isn’t worried about its impact on the community. She’s confident that the lifestyle that has evolved over the last 20 years will remain.
“It’s really truly incredible to see Anthem go from dirt, to infrastructure, to where we are now. We have an active business community and people that truly care about each other,” she said.
It’s a community that Smith and her family are proud to be a part of, and they don’t plan on that changing any time soon. For them, there’s nothing better than a place where they can live, work and play. It was a win for them when they rolled the dice on Anthem.