Gaylord to Develop Convention/Resort Facility in Mesa

Gaylord Entertainment has inked a deal to buy a parcel of land at the Mesa Proving Grounds in Mesa, Ariz., for the development of a resort and convention center. The development will occupy about 100 acres of the Mesa Proving Grounds, which totals about 3,200 acres. The planned convention center and resort will be part of a larger mixed-use development in undertaken by DMB Mesa Proving Grounds L.L.C., an affiliate of DMB Associates Inc. DMB bought the site in 2006 from automaker General Motors, which leased the facility back until 2009. Besides the Gaylord resort and convention center — the particulars of which have not been disclosed yet — plans of the development will also include a Westcor retail development, a golf course designed by Tom Fazio, plus office space, houses and significant other mixed-use components. As the General Motors Desert Proving Grounds, GM operated the facility to test vehicles for durability, vehicle handling, water and dust intrusion, and emissions in a hot-weather climate. At its peak, it employed more than 1,000 people, but in 2000 the company announced its intentions to close the facility and relocate its hot-weather vehicle testing facility. In 2004, 1,800 acres of the site were sold to Pacific Proving L.L.C., with the remaining going to DMB two years later. Nashville-based Gaylord is not only betting on a turnaround in the travel industry in the coming years, but also on the demographics and continued appeal of the greater Phoenix market. Mesa, a suburb of Phoenix, is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country according to the US Census Bureau, which estimated the city’s population at about 460,000 in 2006. Scottsdale-based DMB is a diversified real estate company with real estate holdings in residential and commercial developments, country clubs, hotels, health clubs and spa properties mostly in the western United States. Gaylord’s entertainment brands and properties include the Radisson Hotel Opryland, the Ryman Auditorium, the General Jackson Showboat, Gaylord Springs Golf Links, Wildhorse Saloon, and WSM-AM, among others. It also owns the Grand Ole Opry.