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Mesa to Annex Two Chunks of Former GM Desert Proving Ground

By Gary Nelson for The Arizona Republic

The former General Motors Desert Proving Ground in Mesa.
Photo Credit: Gary Nelson/The Republic

On August 27th, the City Council is slated to introduce ordinances for adoption on September 10 to annex and rezone two chunks of the former General Motors Desert Proving Ground.

One is a roughly triangular patch, about 480 acres, whose northwestern border abuts Ellsworth Road just south of Ray Road. The other, about 2 miles east of there, is 105 acres on the northeastern corner of Williams Field and Signal Butte roads.

Pacific Proving LLC, owned by Phoenix businessman William Levine, bought both parcels in 2004 as part of the deal that landed him the southern 1,700 acres of the GM property. Levine is now selling the soon-to-be-annexed parcels to Harvard Investments of Scottsdale, which will oversee development.

The larger piece is being called Pacific Proving Grounds North.

It is directly across Ellsworth Road from the site of a future terminal for Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Planners and City Council members have tried to ensure that its densities, uses and design will mesh with the burgeoning airfield.

To that end, Mesa stipulates the portion that abuts Ellsworth must develop as an urban core, with urban architecture and a specified amount of non-residential space.

Harvard is agreeing not to build homes south of Williams Field Road in this development. That will protect the airport from residential encroachment and the noise complaints that sometimes threaten airport operations.

That project is being called Signal Butte 105. It’s near the first residential developments in Eastmark, which is what Scottsdale-based DMB Associates calls its part of the old GM property.

One challenge will be to deliver infrastructure.

No water or sewer lines reach the area now, and Paul Gilbert, a zoning attorney representing the developers, said Harvard might ask Mesa to form a community facilities district to develop those necessities.

Such a district is a distinct taxing entity with authority to issue bonds for public improvements. DMB is using one for residential areas of Eastmark, and another is anticipated for Eastmark’s commercial districts.

Read more at AZCentral

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