Construction of the entryway to the future site of a massive commercial complex in Casa Grande was completed this week.

In the next few years, commuters on Interstate 10 will see the complex rise on the site of former farmland, buzzing with activity, developers of PhoenixMart say.

“We’re excited,” says Patrick Welch, senior vice president of general administration and public relations for the project.

Last month the Casa Grande Board of Adjustment approved the placement of a 13-foot landmark logo sign at the entrance of the planned project.

What is it?

Called PhoenixMart, the project is modeled after the Dragon Mart in Dubai — a bazaar-style operation that originated in China. This will be the first of its kind in the U.S.

Plans call for 1,800 vendors peddling everything from hotel furnishings to kitchenware for restaurants. Shoppers are welcome but the target is retailers.

Who are the vendors?

The mart will have six product categories:

  • Home and hotel
  • Food and beverage
  • Office and recreation
  • Electronics and accessories
  • Industrial and automotive
  • Fashion and variety
Where is it?

In Casa Grande, about three miles east of I-10, off of Highway 287. The location was chosen because it’s between Tucson and Phoenix, which will eventually become one region, Welch said.

How big is it?

The 1.5 million-square-foot commercial complex will be located on 500 acres with a price tag of $150 million.

Who is paying for it?

The money came from 300 investors around the globe who are funding the project through the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as “EB-5.”

The program was created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and investment by foreigners.

How does EB-5 work?

Administered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services, the program encourages foreign investment in exchange for expedited receipt of a green card. Under the Immigrant Investor Program, foreigners must:

  • Create a new commercial enterprise.
  • Create or preserve 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers within two years of admission into the U.S. as a conditional permanent resident.
  • Invest a minimum of $1 million or $500,000 in rural areas. Investment can be in the form of cash, equipment, inventory or property.
When will it be finished?

Developers hope to begin grating the land and begin building construction by the end of the year with the goal of starting to move in tenants by the winter of 2015.

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