One of the richest men in the world is about to make a big impression on Arizona. Bill Gates, the second richest man in the world behind founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, paid almost $80 million for a huge chunk of property in the far West Valley, according to a report from Business & Real Estate Weekly of Arizona.

The report says a division of Gates’s Cascade Investment bought a controlling interest in a nearly 20,000-acre tract of land known as Belmont. The property is located off  Interstate-10 at 339th Avenue. The land could end up being along the planned Interstate 11 highway, the proposed freeway that would link Phoenix to Las Vegas.

The property could one day be home to 80,000 residential homes and nearly 4,000 acres of office, industrial and commercial property. That was the intention of the original property owner Engle Homes/Arizona Inc. back in 2006 after acquiring the same land for $70 million and submitting permits to build a master-planned community. 

The company later walked away from the deal and the Belmont masterplan of 4,800 acres feel into the control of the State of Arizona. This latest deal appears to signal the masterplan development is back on and some are predicting rooftops on this property in the next 3-5 years.

Kuldip Verma, founder and CEO of Vermaland, the largest holdings company of 50-1,200-acre parcels in Metro Phoenix, describes the deal as a “huge for the West Valley.” His company originally looked at acquiring the land in 1999 when the price was approximately $600 per acre.

He says the property’s proximity to I-10 and the lack of large parcels available in the area both played a big role in the decision to acquire the nearly 20,000 acres.

Verma predicts the buzz around a big-name investor like Bill Gates will help attract more outside investment and bring in additional capital for other developments, which will be good for the census-designated place in western Maricopa County known as Tonopah, which is approximately 50 miles west of Downtown Phoenix with a population of less than 2,000 people.

Looking at a map of available parcels in the far West Valley, Verma says, there are currently no parcels over 5,000 or 10,000 acres on the market and even 2,000-3,000 acres lots are difficult to find, which added to this property’s investment appeal.

In a statement, the property owners said, Belmont would create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs.

Gates is co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation along with Paul Allen. In 1975, Gates and Allen launched Microsoft, which became the world’s largest PC software company. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of chairman, CEO and chief software architect, while also being the largest individual shareholder until May 2014. Gates stepped down as chief executive officer of Microsoft in January 2000, but he remained as chairman and created the position of chief software architect for himself. In June 2006, Gates announced that he would be transitioning from full-time work at Microsoft to part-time work and full-time work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He gradually transferred his duties to Ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie. He stepped down as chairman of Microsoft in February 2014 and assumed a new post as technology adviser to support the newly appointed CEO Satya Nadella.

Gates is one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution. Later in his career, Gates pursued a number of philanthropic endeavors. He donated large amounts of money to various charitable organizations and scientific research programs through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was established in 2000.

Check back to for more details as they emerge.