A Bill Gates-owned company is looking to develop a “smart city” near Phoenix, Arizona, and has bought 25,000 acres of land for the project. The purchase price of the land is $80 million.
The community, about 45 minutes west of Phoenix, would be called Belmont and cited as a “forward-thinking community.”
Belmont Partners, one of Gates’ investment firms, released a statement that claims the center would include “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.”
Ronald Schott, executive emeritus at the Arizona Technology Council, said the land Gates purchased would be served by the proposed I-11 freeway that would connect to Las Vegas.
“Bill Gates is known for innovation and those kind of things and I think he picked the right place. He’s coming to Arizona,” Schott said.
Belmont Partners said there is a plan in place for how the land will be used.
The group plants use about 3,800 acres for office, commercial and retail space, with public schools using up to roughly 470 acres. The community itself would reportedly have around 80,000 housing units.
“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,” the organization said in a statement.
“Finally Arizona’s getting recognized for being a place for innovation,” Schott said.
No construction date has been announced.
“This is a very long-term investment,” said real estate attorney Grady Gammage, who talked about the project before the involvement of Gates was reported.
Land won’t be sold for residential development until the community’s overall plan has been completed, he said.
“They are rethinking what a community is that isn’t led by homebuilding,” Gammage said.
“Belmont illustrates that Arizona remains at the leading edge of trends in American urban planning and development, keying off of advances in solar power and electric distribution systems, autonomous auto testing, broadband, and data centers,” said Larry Yount, manager of Belmont Partners.
Yet, Belmont is not the world’s first “smart city” to be proposed.
The first “smart city” in the U.S. is set to belong to Columbus, Ohio, who won a $40 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2016, as well as $10 million from Vulvan Inc. as part of a “Smart City Challenge.”
And, on the international scene, India set out in 2014 to build 100 “smart cities” from the ground up. However, that plan has morphed into making improvements in existing communities.
India’s government-led plan has begun work in 20 locations, though it’s been admitted that the private sector has moved too slowly, according to Quartz. And many hope for an improvement with the coming plans in Arizona.
“The difference between private and public leadership in the project might make a difference in the ease of Belmont’s development.”