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Gates Eyes I-11, Invests $80M in Belmont

Credit: Google Maps

By AZBEX Staff for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

Real estate investment firm Belmont Partners announced it received an investment of approximately $80M by Mt. Lemmon Holdings to spur the planning and development of Belmont, a master-planned community on the far west side of Maricopa County. The announcement was distributed by the venture’s representative, law firm Gammage & Burnham, PLC.

The Arizona Republic reported Mt. Lemmon Holdings is controlled by Cascade Investment LLC, the investment group of billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

The article noted an attorney tied to Cascade was listed in the property record, which also showed the investment group’s tax mailing address was the same Kirkland, Wash. address as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

According to the announcement, “Belmont is one of the largest privately owned, undeveloped properties in Arizona and is entitled for nearly 80,000 residential units and more than 3,800 acres of industrial, office, and commercial space. Belmont will provide more than 3,400 acres of open space and 470 acres for public schools. 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.”

Belmont lies, roughly, between 371st and 330th avenues north of I-10 and south of the Central Arizona Project Canal, the Republic noted. The proposed – but not yet funded – Interstate 11, which would run from Mexico to Reno, Nev., will have a five-mile corridor through Belmont, spurring the potential for massive development in the now largely unpopulated area.

“The new investment will help Belmont become a template for the development of a sustainable city capitalizing on cutting-edge infrastructure,” the announcement stated.

“Belmont is an incredible opportunity for the state of Arizona,” Grady Gammage, Jr., Founding Partner of Gammage & Burnham, said in the announcement. “Envisioning future infrastructure from scratch is far easier and more cost efficient than retrofitting an existing urban fabric. 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.”

While this would buck the trend in recent years of modernizing and revitalizing existing space, particularly along the light rail in Tempe and Downtown Phoenix, the presence of a major infrastructure and transportation anchor like a new interstate could certainly yield a significant return on early speculation.

“The Belmont development exemplifies the big picture thinking that has been a unique hallmark of Arizona’s history of economic development. 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.

The Republic cited Gammage as saying the owners won’t begin selling land to home builders until a new plan is completed. “They are rethinking what a community is that isn’t led by homebuilding,” he said.

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