It's been touted as the next big hope for Mesa and the south East Valley. Now, part of the 5,000-acre General Motors Desert Proving Ground, owned by Scottsdale-based DMB Associates, is set to be turned into a destination resort with a major conference center, a retail project and a high-end golf course.
DMB executives, including CEO Drew Brown, along with Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and executives from the companies involved, are expected to make the details public at the Mesa Arts Center today.
DMB, which owns 3,200 acres of what is now mostly dirt, track and a few buildings for GM test vehicles, promises to make good on Mesa's hopes to bring high-quality jobs to the area, along with billions of dollars in investments.
DMB has been working with Mesa to get mixed-use community zoning for its parcel. That title should give it the flexibility to plan housing, offices and stores by guiding development in different parts in terms of character and intensity, rather than specific land use.
Meanwhile, Mesa plans to introduce a new kind of zoning, utilizing what is known as the form-based code, which guides development more on the basis of characteristics such as height rather than keeping a distinction between housing, office and industrial developments.
Such a tool helps guide developments in mixed-use communities.
DMB bought the land from GM for $265 million in 2006. Pacific Proving LLC owns the remaining land, but has yet to announce any concrete plans for its property.
Earlier this year, DMB announced a partnership with mall giant Westcor's parent company, Macerich, based in Santa Monica, Calif. Starting with their joint high-end project, One Scottsdale, near Scottsdale Road and Loop 101, Brown had said more projects could be announced soon. It has not been confirmed whether Westcor will be involved in the Proving Ground project.
DMB vice president John Bradley, who's heading the Proving Ground project, had said that a resort or a hospitality component is likely to come up initially, although the company has, in early design plans, earmarked an urban core with buildings taller than is the norm in Mesa.
A number of city leaders and business community representatives are expected to hear the announcement today.
The Web site of East Valley Partnership, a group of community and business leaders, had listed the event as a "very special announcement about the future of Mesa Proving Grounds and the City of Mesa" on its calendar item for Sept.3.
DMB's development projects are spread across Arizona, California, Hawaii and Utah. In Arizona, the company has built north Scottsdale's DC Ranch and Silverleaf projects, as well as Verrado in Buckeye.