(Source: Forbes): Ellen Barber – In Arizona’s largest and most intriguing land deal for the month of August, tech giant Microsoft MSFT +0.39% spent almost $48 million to acquire 277 acres just west of Phoenix.
According to Scottsdale-based RL Brown Housing Reports, the purchase consists of two parcels of land in Goodyear—154 acres and 123 acres—adjacent to the Phoenix Goodyear Airport and close to Interstate 10, which connects Phoenix to California.
The question is, what is Microsoft planning?
The site, located at the southwest corner of MC 85 and Lower Buckeye Road, “combines the potential for air, rail, and interstate connections coupled with a size suitable for a wide range of uses,” reports RL Brown.
Though Microsoft has yet to make any announcement about its intentions in Goodyear, the Phoenix Business Journal predicts “a potential data center and other unknown facilities.”
A data center seems likely. Phoenix already anchors Microsoft’s Azure Government region in the Southwest. Azure Government, the company’s dedicated cloud service for government customers, offers “hyperscale comput[ing], storage, networking, and identity management services, with world-class security.”
And at its Government Tech Summit in March, Microsoft announced two new Azure ExpressRoute sites “coming soon” to Phoenix and San Antonio, Texas. These ExpressRoute locations will make it “easier for government customers in those regions to create private connections between Azure data centers and on-premise infrastructure,” according to Government Cloud Insider.
Microsoft operates more than 100 data centers worldwide. And Phoenix is one of the most active data center markets in the U.S. According to Data Center Frontier, “Phoenix is currently home to about 210 megawatts of commissioned data center space.” In addition, “Data center developers have 707 MWs of capacity on the planning board, more than any market except Northern Virginia.”
Another notable feature of the Goodyear site is its proximity to the 25,000-acre tract of desert where former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates plans to build his “City of the Future.”
Through his investment company, Gates purchased the land for $80 million in 2017 and announced his plan to build a “smart city” called Belmont. Located on I-10 near Tonopah, the site is about 45 minutes west of downtown Phoenix (and about 30 minutes from the Goodyear airport).
According to a statement from Belmont Partners, the Arizona-based real estate investment group that leads the project, Belmont will be “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.”
And more connections are coming: the proposed Interstate 11 will eventually run right through Belmont, providing a direct route from the Phoenix area to Las Vegas, Nevada.