Residential, commercial developments picking their spots along I-11 corridor

Interstate 11 is expected to eventually seed economic development at many points along its route from Las Vegas to the Mexican border.

In the City of Buckeye, that future is now for a few entrepreneurs who are already carving out new projects along the path of the interstate.

Two massive new master planned communities and a key major manufacturing plant have all announced plans to locate in Buckeye along the I-11 corridor. While none said construction of I-11 was the key factor in their decision, all cited the new north-south throughfare as contributing to their decision.

KORE Power of Idaho selected Buckeye for its million-square-foot manufacturing plant to build lithium-ion batteries, the first U.S.-owned facility of its kind. The site beat out rivals in Oregon, Florida, Texas and elsewhere in Arizona.

The 214-acre site is at the intersection of State Route 85 and Baseline Road. Interstate 11 will co-locate with SR 85 through that part of Buckeye, giving the plant easy interstate access. The plant is expected to be in operation by spring 2023 and hire up to 3,000 employees.

Further north and west, but still in Buckeye, is the Douglas Ranch development project.

Last month, the Howard Hughes Corp. announced a deal with JDM Partners, which includes Arizona business and sports icon Jerry Colangelo, to develop 37,000 acres into a master-planned community that eventually hopes to include 100,000 homes with 300,000 residents and 55 million square feet of commercial space. The development stretches from Sun Valley Parkway on the east to the I-11 corridor route on the west, and between Jomax and Thunderbird roads.

Lots in the initial section will go on sale next year and developers plan to have 100,000 residents in place in a decade. Ultimately, the area is planned to include 6 high schools, 29 elementary schools, 179 parks, 6 fire stations, 2 police stations, a library, a community college site and a regional medical facility.

I-11 played a role in the siting, as Colangelo explained in an interview with “The West Valley is going to become more and more critical in terms of not only communicating but working with ports and the goods that come into the state of Arizona,” he said. “So the West Valley will be a major depository of goods to take care of the entire state and region.”

Also in play is the Belmont Ranch development, located southwest of Douglas Ranch. The I-11 corridor runs through the middle of the property and that, developers said, was a factor in the decision to build the project at the Belmont site.

It is planned, the developers said, as a “smart city,” incorporating high-speed digital networks, cutting-edge infrastructure, data centers, new manufacturing technologies, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs. At build-out, it is planned to stretch over 24,800 acres and include 80,000 homes, 3,800 acres of industrial, office and retail space, 3,400 acres of open space and 470 acres of public schools.

Belmont Partners, the developer, is backed by an $80 million investment from a Washington group controlled by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

But there has been little movement on the project since the initial announcement in 2017.