Home exterior
This 14,124-square-foot home on S. Honah Lee Court in Ahwatukee lists for $6.48 million.

If a 16,000-acre “backyard” doesn’t turn you on, how does a two-story library with a retractable roof sound?

You can have both – and a lot more – if you’ve got about $6.48 million to shell out for the most expensive “empty nest” on the market in the Phoenix village of Ahwatukee.

It just might be the priciest home in Ahwatukee – period.

The 14,124-square-foot home on S. Honah Lee Court, listed by Russ Lyon|Sotheby’s International Realty agents Oriana Lehman Wood and Jim Bruske, is owned by Dr. Alan Nelson and Dierdre Meldrum.

He is the former executive director of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute and has held faculty positions at ASU, University of Washington, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard. Besides holding more than 100 U.S. patents, he is also founder and CEO of the Ahwatukee biotech company Visiongate and developed the world’s first and only automated screening test for cervical cancer.

She is the former dean of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“They’re becoming empty nesters and contemplating other places,” said Lehman Wood. “They absolutely love the house.”

What’s not to love?

Even the Wall Street Journal swooned over it, making it its House of the Day on Feb. 23.

With seven bedrooms and 11 baths, the house widens the eyes and drops the jaws of most anyone who has toured it, Lehman Wood said.

The kitchen

“Everybody comes back with a ‘wow,’” she said. “Most reactions are surprise. People say that with such a large square footage, the home has a much more welcoming feel than the feel they would expect.”

Welcoming – and sturdy.

Lehman Wood said that the all-concrete structure is commercial engineered and that a home built like this today would likely run close to $100 million in construction costs alone.

Then there’s the feel of the Mediterranean-style home, which was designed by Scottsdale architect David Dick and built by Kitchell Corp. in 2010 for the family of Eric Crown, founder of Arizona-based computer giant Insight Enterprises and the Summit School of Ahwatukee.

“It does have an amazing privacy,” Lehman Wood said. “You tend to find a home like this in Paradise Valley. Of course, it is right up against South Mountain, and that helps.”

Bruske said its location not only offers “serene privacy,” but also “alluring views” to give it “something most homes in Arizona don’t have.”

Most homes also don’t have what Lehman Wood called a “Harry Potter library” with a retractable roof that senses rain or other factors and will move back in place if it’s open.

The library

Nor do most homes have mature arboretum gardens in their backyard.

The home does have some amenities usually found in less expensive luxury homes, such as an expansive deck, a gazebo with a ramada, a built-in barbecue and a heated pool.

The pool

But it also has a two-story, two-bedroom 1,200-square-foot standalone home with a detached garage that even has a dance studio the owners had installed for their daughter.

Inside, the main residence features a game room, a separate workshop, media room, a loft, exercise and sauna room, and a chef’s luxury kitchen. And four indoor fireplaces and one on the patio will take the chill out of any winter night in Ahwatukee.

Lehman Wood said that when the house was first listed in early February, “we didn’t receive a lot of buyer interest,” although walk-throughs picked up noticeably after “it got really nice exposure in the Wall Street Journal.”

And if you want to just walk around and gawk at how the other half lives, beware: You can’t just sign up for a tour.

Lehman Wood said she and Bruske won’t show the house to just anyone who walks in off the street.

Indeed, your bank account will need to show some financial wherewithal.

“With a home like this, you have to be more thorough in vetting candidates,” she said. “Someone looking in this range needs to be more vetted.”

She envisions the kind of people who might be interested.

“Well, it’s very close to the Cardinals’ training facility, so it would be an ideal home for a professional football player,” she said. “And if there are any Intel executives coming here because of the new plant, they’d want to look at this home too.”

If you’re interested and can pass the vetting, start at russlyon.com and look up Lehman Wood or Bruske.

– Paul Maryniak, Ahwatukee Foothills News / Edited for Phoenix.org

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