Big Arizona project planned

DATELAND, Ariz. – A WWII bomber training base here that has been shuttered for more than 40 years is about to be reborn as the biggest residential airpark in the country.

Developer Douglas Johnson said the planned 2,000-acre subdivision near this tiny desert oasis will have about 2,500 lots, including 427 with taxiway connections to the airport’s runways.

Johnson claims the 427 lots available for the construction of “hangar homes” will make the Dateland airpark the country’s largest residential airport.

Dateland, named for the date orchards that still dot the surrounding landscape, is midway between Yuma and Gila Bend, on Interstate 8.

The old airfield has been privately owned, and seldom used, since the military abandoned it in 1957. The only building remaining is a sand-filled concrete bunker once used to sight in machine guns.

Built in 1941 as a B-25 training base, Dateland features three asphalt runways laid out in a triangle. The longest is 6,700 feet, another is 5,400 feet and the third is 5,100 feet long. All are 150 feet wide.

Johnson said all three runways will be rehabilitated, with the work scheduled to begin in the next couple months.

Johnson said the airport will be open to the public and he hopes to attract a fixed base operator to sell fuel and provide maintenance services.

In addition to the airport, Johnson said the development will include two golf courses – an executive nine-hole and an 18-hole professional course, a 100-room motel for fly-in and drive-in visitors, 50 miles of paved streets, and a museum devoted to the area’s civilian and military history.

Johnson said he hopes to attract fly-in traffic to the golf courses, both of which will be open to the public in the fall of 1999. Pilots who fly in to play golf will be able to park their plane and take a golf cart to either course.

Construction of the motel, golf courses, streets, taxiways and water system is scheduled to begin this winter.

The Dateland development is designed to appeal to retires, including snowbirds from northern states who head south for the winter months, the developer said. More than 2,000 lots in the subdivision are zoned for recreational vehicles. that designation allows the site to be occupied by two RVs, or by a house and an RV.

Johnson said lot prices have not yet been established.

For more details, call 520-454-2521.