The first piece of a gigantic east Mesa puzzle is in place. The City Council approved Monday a major plan amendment for 5,000 acres of the General Motors Desert Proving Ground, largely owned by DMB Associates and Pacific Proving LLC.
The mixed-use community designation will enable flexibility in development of the area for office, retail, housing and entertainment spaces, among others. The old designation was more rigid in earmarking specific land use, much of it industrial, for the property.
A two-thirds majority approval was needed from the City Council for a major amendment. The vote came in 7-0.
"This is only chapter one of what we'll be talking to you about," Grady Gammage Jr., representing DMB Associates, told the council. DMB executives working on the site were also present at the meeting.
The previous vision for the area was a swath of development, but the emphasis is to bring more jobs, corporate executives and knowledge workers, Gammage said.
Mesa has a jobs per capita ratio of 1 for every 3 residents, which the city wants to improve. The proving ground site, still home to a test track for General Motors, can change that to more jobs than residents, Gammage said.
Details will be presented to the council next week, with Councilman Scott Somers especially keen to know more about how DMB's vision matches Mesa's in bringing those jobs to the city.
The first use, as DMB vice president John Bradley has said, would be hospitality, which in turn will help draw the high-end offices and corporate executives.
Earlier this month, Gaylord Entertainment Co. announced plans to build a massive 1,200-plus room resort and convention center. Another resort is also planned.
Among the next steps for the DMB property, the City Council has to approve annexation and rezoning of the 3,200 acres it owns. The land is generally bounded by Ellsworth Road to the west, Signal Butte Road to the east, Ray Road alignment to the south and Elliot Road to the north.
"I'm excited to see this change, and it represents a major milestone for us," Mayor Scott Smith said.
DMB's application also included general plan change for Arizona Land Department, which owns 434 acres of the total 5,000 acres of the GM Desert Proving Ground, as well as the Flood Control District of Maricopa County, which owns nearly 10 acres.