For many of us, the Menlo Park neighborhood was a big part of our childhood. I remember going with my dad to Pat’s Chili dogs about once a month, whenever he got that craving. We would order a couple of their hot chili dogs (the hot was really hot back then) and a basket of their greasy fries. We would sit in his El Camino and “burn our lips off”, as he would say.
It was soooo tasty good.
“A” Mountain, the icon of Menlo Park, was also a big part of our lives as it stood proudly over the city for everyone to see. It has an amazing history and fun stories. For example, at the base of the mountain, the land was very fertile.
Definitely usable for agriculture. Also, in the 1690s, Father Kino established the Mission San Xavier del Bac nearby. The mountain was used for posting sentinels at the peak to watch for raiding Apache Indians.
Sometimes Dad and I would I hike up into the crater at the base of the mountain hunting for meteor remnants. A volcanic explosion is what most likely created the crater millions of years ago.
Dad and I thought it was a meteor and that certainly made it more fun for us. Today, I think it’s blocked off for safety purposes.
Menlo Park Neighborhood: 4th Of July
Every year on the 4th of July we would take dads El Camino and park somewhere near the base of “A” mountain. We would bring fried chicken and moms homemade potato salad and a cooler full of drinks.
No matter what time the fireworks started, many Tucson residents, including us, would be there in the late afternoon to enjoy the picnic, the people and the show to come. We would always run into friends which were really the best part.
It was a place where the community came together every year and we all knew that we’d be sitting in bottlenecked traffic for a long time trying to get home after the show. It was worth it.
The Menlo Park neighborhood disappeared at some point. I can’t really put my finger on when, it just did, figuratively of course. As Tucson grew and experienced more and more urban sprawl, Menlo was not the center of attention it had once been.
New fireworks shows opened at the high-end resorts and an upcoming city called Marana. “A” Mountain (Sentinal Park) started deteriorating. The neighborhoods became more and more run down. Housing prices seemed to be stuck.
You could buy a cute bungalow for $80,000 to $100,000. Oh, how I wish I had.
Menlo Park Neighborhood: The Menlo Park Of Today
Flash forward to the rise of the Mercado District. It opened in 2010 as the first public market in Tucson AZ, just a hop skip and a jump from downtown. It was right ahead of the streetcar, which hit the rails running in July of 2014.
Today, the cute bungalows sell for $200,000+. A remodeled bungalow is about $350,000. According to REALTOR.com, in April of 2016, the median housing price in Menlo Park was $133,000 and in April of 2018, the median housing price was $247,400.
Days on market in April of 2016 were over 80 and in April of 2018, they were 41. Indications are that Menlo Park home values will increase at about 10.2% next year as compared to Tucson home values at about 6.5%
In 2011, a new home with 1780 sf closed in the Mercado for $320,100. Today, a new home similar in size is going to set you back a cool $700,000. That’s just the starter price of course. Several homes in the Mercado are well over 1 million dollars.
As you can see, the Mercado district and the streetcar were definitely the game changers. I encourage you to head over to the Mercado and see what’s happening in the Menlo Park neighborhood. Take the streetcar for a ride or jump on a bike.
Whatever you do, I’m sure you’ll find lots of fun and excitement. Call me if you have any questions.
Have a great day!
Tony Ray 🙂