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MESA, AZ-A 100-acre resort and convention center proposed by Gaylord Entertainment will be the launch pad for a $1-billion, urban mixed-use development on the 3,200-acre former General Motors Desert Proving Grounds. If all goes according to plan, shovels could start moving the dirt as early as 2010.

Along with the proposed resort, the site will sport a major retail center, under the auspices of Santa Monica, CA-based Macerich Co., as well as an 18-hole Tom Fazio-designed golf course. John Bradley, vice president and general manager for the landowner, DMB Mesa Proving Grounds LLC, acknowledges there are a few hurdles to overcome before the site at 13303 S. Ellsworth Rd., near Williams Gateway Airport can be developed. The land sale to Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment won’t close until late 2009 or early 2010, mainly because General Motors still occupies the land.

“They’ll actually operate there until at least June of next year,” Bradley tells GlobeSt.com. “And, they don’t actually have to be off at that time.”

DMB Mesa Proving Grounds LLC, an affiliate of DMB Associates in Scottsdale, AZ, acquired the land from the Detroit-based automaker in 2006 in a sale-leaseback transaction. Bradley says the company has until the end of this year to let DMB if it plans to stay longer.

General Motors’ departure schedule depends on when its facility at Yuma Proving Grounds will be completed. Once General Motors has left, Bradley says “we’ll prepare the site for Gaylord, which would take us at least 90 days, then deliver it right after that.”

Bradley says DMB has the remaining 3,100 acres to play with when it comes to development although there is no specific timeline in terms of build-out. “This land has been preserved by GM all these years. Now we have an opportunity to take it and implement some fresh approaches that will be the best use over the long term,” he explains, defining “long term” as 40 years or more.

Bradley says a Gaylord Entertainment resort and convention center is the logical component to kick off a development that’s the size of the proving grounds. “Gaylord will be bringing the ideal design in mind for this area and as people begin making decisions over the next decade, hopefully they’ll say this is where they need to be,” Bradley says.

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