Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates has big plans for a big chunk of vacant land in Arizona. His company has invested $80 million in a high-tech planned development outside Phoenix.
The 25,000 acres of land is about 45 minutes west of downtown Phoenix off I-10 near Tonopah. According to the Arizona-based investment group that's leading the project,"Belmont," the proposed community will be turned into its own "smart city." It will be designed around high-speed networks, self-driving cars, high-speed digital networks, data centers and new manufacturing technologies.
The investment group says 3,800 acres will go towards office, commercial and retail space, 470 acres will be used for public schools. The remaining land will make room for 80,000 residential units.
It is still unclear how much Gates will be involved in the project.
Meanwhile, Arizona has a reputation for being a technology-friendly state. Several major companies in the driverless car industry such as Waymo, Uber, and Intel, are testing their innovations in the state.
According to experts, the land Gates' company purchased is in a good spot, because of the proposed I-11 freeway, which would run right through Belmont and connect to Las Vegas.
This is not the first a company tries building cities from the ground up with a digital mind-set. Just last month, Sidewalk Labs, the urban innovation unit of Google's parent company, committed $50 million for the initial phase of a Toronto neighborhood development.
There is still no word on when construction of Gates' "Smart City" will start.