Dreamport Villages map

A map of how Dreamport Villages may be developed at the junction of Interstate 8 and Interstate 10. The project will be reviewed by the Casa Grande Planning and Zoning Commission on March 2.

{child_flags:top_story}{child_flags:featured}Dream location or just a fairy tale?

{child_byline}By KEVIN REAGAN

Staff Writer

{/child_byline}

CASA GRANDE — Mickey Mouse may have a competitor in central Arizona if a new development project under review by the city comes to fruition.

The Block Sports Company, based in Florida, is looking to develop a 1,500-acre “destination resort” near Casa Grande, which it compares to Walt Disney World.

Referred to as Dreamport Villages, the project would develop hundreds of acres near the Interstate 8 and Interstate 10 junction for recreational and residential uses.

Amenities to be built include an indoor recreational facility, water parks, a wildlife animal exhibit, restaurants and an amusement park. Another portion of the project would be reserved for commercial and residential purposes as well as the future construction of a school.

According to plans submitted to the city in January, developers describe the project as similar to Walt Disney World in Florida.

“We believe we are at the same point today in Casa Grande as was Orlando 50 years ago when Walt Disney envisioned Disney World,” the plan says.

The developers argue that Casa Grande is better positioned for this type of project, unlike Orlando was back in the 1960s when Disney began building, considering its proximity to two major freeways and location between Tucson and Phoenix.

Full development of the project is estimated to take up to 10 years with a budget of $4 billion. Phase one of the project is expected to generate up to 5,800 direct and indirect jobs.

The scope of phase one has yet to be determined, but the plan outlines a few amenities that include an “extreme” sports park, resort hotel with indoor water park, a village marketplace with retail spaces and an RV park.

The Casa Grande Planning and Zoning Commission will review the project March 2 regarding amendments to the property’s original development plan.

The land appears to be owned by Casa Grande Mountain Ranch Limited Partnership, according to records of the Pinal County Assessor’s Office, and was previously going to be developed into a “commerce center” for business and commercial uses.

The City Council approved an amended version of the development plan two years ago, yet the land surrounding the freeway junction remains undeveloped.

The 525-acre commerce center was supposed to be built over three phases depending on market demands, according to previous PinalCentral articles, and include an adjacent 758-acre residential area.

Dreamport Villages expands the size of the previous project by more than 200 acres and Block Sports is reportedly under contract to acquire all of the property, according to city documents.

Dreamport Villages wouldn’t be the first theme park idea pitched in Pinal County. Other developers proposed building a rock ‘n’ roll theme park, known as Decades, in Eloy nearly a decade ago, but it never materialized.

An Arizona Republic article in 2007 described Decades as a park to rival Disney World.

The public will have a chance to address the Planning and Zoning Commission about the project at its meeting on March 2 at 6 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers, 510 E. Florence Blvd.

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