In the pre-holiday rush, it might have been easy to miss Catherine Reagor’s article in the Arizona Republic about a big-name investor that has signed on to the development of a previously pristine 24,800 acre swath of land at the western end of Phoenix Valley. The planned development, known as Belmont, runs for five miles along the north side of Interstate 10 between 330th Avenue and 371st Avenue.
Just who is the big-name investor? None other than Bill Gates. Gates and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have invested about $80 million in the development, which is slated to be about the size of Tempe when it’s built out. What’s different about this development? What has attracted Gates to invest in Phoenix-area real estate?
1 – Take a look at the future corridor of Interstate 11 and you’ll see one reason
2 – It could be the fact that Belmont will be centered around about 3,800 acres of high-tech commercial space, including light industrial, retail and offices. Plans for the development call for it to be a sustainable city at the forefront of technology. It will be designed around high-speed networks, solar power, data centers and high-tech manufacturing and distribution built for drones, self-driving vehicles and robotic logistics centers.
In short, Belmont could be the city of the future. Humans, of course, will also be welcome to live and work in the futuristic city. About 80,000 homes are expected to be built over time in the new development. However, it could be some time before the first of those houses break ground. That’s because unlike most previous Phoenix area developments that have been led by home builders, Belmont’s owners will not begin selling land to residential developers until planning is completed.
Gates’ involvement in the Belmont project could be as transformative in Phoenix’s west end as his former partner Paul Allen’s investments have been in their hometown of Seattle. Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Gates back in the 1970s, retired from Microsoft nearly three decades ago and since then has helmed Seattle developer Vulcan Investments, which in a little more than a decade, has transformed Seattle’s skyline.
Could something similar be happening right here in Phoenix? Time will tell, but Gates’ involvement could be a harbinger of big changes coming to west Phoenix.