Bill Gates and his investment firm have just invested $80 million to build a "smart city" in Arizona.
The project is being funded through Gates' investment firm, Kirkland, Wash.-based Cascade Investment LLC, which owns Belmont Partners, an Arizona-based real estate investment group that will lead the project.
Gates purchased 24,800 acres of desert land about 45 minutes west of downtown Phoenix, just off Interstate 10, near Tonopah, Ariz. The development will be called Belmont.
"Envisioning future infrastructure from scratch is far easier and more cost efficient than retrofitting an existing urban fabric," said Grady Gammage, founding partner of legal firm Gammage & Burnham. "Belmont presents such an opportunity. We know of virtually no other property in the United States so strategically positioned, already entitled, and yet presenting a nearly blank slate of opportunity."
"Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles, and autonomous logistics hubs," states Belmont Partners in a press release.
The community is expected to feature solar power and electric distribution systems, broadband, and data centers.
"Comparable in square miles and projected population to Tempe, Arizona, Belmont will transform a raw, blank slate into a purpose-built edge city built around a flexible infrastructure model," states the press release. Tempe has a population of approximately 182,000, and preliminary plans are for Belmont to be home to upward of 160,000 people.
Approximately 3,800 acres will be devoted to office, commercial and retail space. Another 3,400 acres will be devoted to open space, and 470 acres will be set aside for public schools. Most of the rest of the land will be used for as many as 80,000 residential units.
The developers are counting on the expected development of nearby north-south Interstate 11, which, at this point, is proposed but not yet funded. It is expected to run from the Mexico border to Reno, Nev. The development would thus be at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Interstate 11.