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Bill Gates plans to build a smart city in the Arizona desert

An investment firm controlled by the Microsoft co-founder buys land for a city that will feature cutting-edge tech at its core.

Bill Gates

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is investing in construction of a proposed smart city in the Arizona desert.

Chesnot / Getty Images

Bill Gates can see the future -- in the Arizona desert.

An investment firm controlled by the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist has bought nearly 25,000 acres about 45 miles west of Phoenix to build a smart city, a community built from the ground up with the idea of integrating technology into its residents' lives. The proposed community, known as Belmont, would serve as a "template" for development of sustainable cities capitalizing on cutting-edge infrastructure, the investment firm Belmont Partners said.

"Belmont will 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," the firm said in a statement Wednesday.

The investment comes amid growing interest in smart cities, communities that use technology to keep streets clean by alerting the sanitation department when public garbage bins are full, for example. Communities that allow residents to unlock their office door and turn on their computer before even arriving at work. Places where residents can use their phones to reserve and get directions to a parking space.

Belmont Partners has spent $80 million on the plot of land for the proposed community, which would be comparable in size and population to nearby Tempe -- 40 square miles and about 160,000 people, the firm said in a statement.

Belmont will be composed of 80,000 residential units, with more than 3,800 acres for office, commercial and retail space, 3,400 acres of open space and 470 acres for public schools, the firm said.

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