Bill Gates is purchasing 25,000 acres of land in the West Valley area of Arizona, 45 minutes west of Phoenix, with the intent of building a high-tech “smart city” named Belmont. “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,” said Belmont Partners, the real estate firm involved in the purchase.
The purchase, made by an investment firm run by Gates, cost $80 million and will be developed along the proposed freeway I-11, which would connect Belmont to Las Vegas and other major hubs of the region. Although Gates has given the project a new boost of funding and publicity, the planned community of Belmont, Arizona has been in the works since the 1990s. Although the housing crash put a damper on the city’s development, the regional real estate market has since recovered. The city also is banking on the parallel development of I-11, a proposed interstate highway that would run through Belmont to Las Vegas. The first section of I-11, near Boulder City, Arizona, was opened in August 2017.
3,800 acres of the proposed community will be used for office, retail and commercial space while an additional 470 acres will be set aside for public schools. The remaining space is enough land for 80,000 residential 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,” said Belmont Properties in a statement. When completed, Belmont will join Arcosanti, an ecologically-inspired experimental town to the north of Phoenix, as one of the region’s most high-profile planned communities.