In the middle of a vast tract of farmland in California's San Joaquin Valley, a group of developers are planning a city of 75,000 residents — with entertainment features and more than 2.5 million square feet in retail. The catch: The whole city will be solar-powered.

Some 12,000 acres have been carved out of the grazing pastures about 50 miles south of Fresno, Calif., to build Quay Valley Ranch, a $10 billion mixed-use development on I-5, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. About 2,000 acres have been set aside for the entertainment and retail district, being planned by the Development Design Group of Baltimore, Md., with King County Ventures and master planner Ken Brindley.

Brindley, who was on the team that built Rancho Santa Margarita in Orange County, Calif., says plans include a 1.8-million-square-foot lifestyle center, 700,000 square feet of additional shops throughout the entertainment district and 10 to 12 neighborhood centers.

Finding a parcel of land this size in the U.S. is rare, says Roy Higgs, chief executive of the design firm. “We have done some in Africa, the Middle East and even China, but seldom do you find portfolios of 10,000 or more acres in the heart of California with an interstate running through it.”

While the size in itself is extraordinary, the most unique aspect of the development is its environmentally focused design to include water recycling, waste minimization, transportation alternatives, state-of-the-art homes and alternative energy sources. Chief among the alternative energy sources is solar power. Indeed, planners expect to create enough power to provide solar-generated electricity to the state's power grid in times of surplus generation.

When the project, which has more than 250 planning team members, is completed (it's in the early planning stages now), solar panels will generate as much power as a 600-megawatt power plant.

“We are planning Quay Valley Ranch so that its residents will never have to pay a power bill,” says Quay Hays, founder of the development. Retailers will likely pay cut rates for energy.

Energy will be collected through solar panels on the roofs of the homes and commercial buildings as well as via a series of solar collectors floating on several waterways planned for the development, which will also include a sustainable permanent agricultural component. A wildlife habitat will be featured as well. More than 500 acres of rivers and lakes are planned, as are three beach clubs.

“Quay Hays has envisioned a community where the promise of sustainability is fully realized,” says Peter Corsell, president and chief executive of GridPoint Inc., a Washington, D.C., energy management firm that is helping design the solar infrastructure. “The key points are that the aggregate solar systems provide green generation peaking power to the utility, while the storage provides a peak power reserve that can be recharged off peak.” When necessary, the system will also be able to draw from the grid.

“It's about embedding sustainability into the very DNA of the community,” says Hays.

An integral part of Quay Valley Ranch will be the entertainment destination district, which will include themed resort hotels, a water park, performance driving school, lifestyle center, shops, restaurants, a convention center and other family attractions.

An international motor speedway complex will feature four separate facilities: a one-mile oval with seating for up to 42,000, a 2.4-mile road course, a drag racing venue and a boat drag racing venue.

Discussions also are under way with a university to build a campus on the property. And 39 new schools are planned.

Accounting for Mall of America

Madison Marquette won the contract to manage property accounting for the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. The firm's Minneapolis-based accounting team will be handling the day-to-day property management accounting duties on behalf of MOAC Mall Holdings LLC — the holding company operated by Edmonton, Canada — based Triple Five Group. The entity took full control of the mall last year, buying out TIAA-CREF and Simon Property Group. Madison Marquette assumed accounting duties at the 4.2-million-square-foot property on March 1.

CoStar Expands Overseas

CoStar Group, Inc., which provides data to the commercial real estate industry in the U.S., through its U.K.-based subsidiary CoStar Ltd., acquired Property Investment Exchange Ltd. (Propex) for $22 million. Propex provides data on retail, office and industrial properties throughout the U.K. The company's three primary services are Propex, which is an online trading platform, Shopproperty, which lists retail space for rent, and Screenedata which holds information on available office and industrial space in London and southeast England.

Going for Silver

Melaver Inc.'s 16,620-square-foot Phase II of the Shops 600 at Abercorn Common received LEED Silver Certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — the fifth project in the firm's portfolio that has been awarded a LEED designation. The property, located in Savannah, Ga., earned its LEED certification because of use of technologies like solar water heaters and a vegetative roof, which will provide natural insulation during the winter. The building also recycles all its rainwater — up to 5.5 million gallons a year — and uses high-efficiency light fixtures, HVAC equipment, efficient glazing and reflective roofing that combine to cut electricity consumption by about 30 percent. The first phase of the project also earned Melaver LEED certification from the EPA and it features the first LEED-certified McDonald's in the country.

Great Outdoors

Blue Outdoor secured a long-term agreement to sell advertising in 15 Pyramid Cos. mall properties. Blue Outdoor will have access to more than 600 advertising faces, including posters, garbage cans, benches and kiosks that reach an estimated 172 million annual visitors. Blue Outdoor was launched a year ago by Evan Seigerman, who previously was the founder of Outdoor Media Group USA, a street banner advertising firm. Siegerman sold that company to Titan Outdoor in 2002. Malls in the Pyramid portfolio are the center of commerce in cities throughout New York and Massachusetts including Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, New York, Poughkeepsie and Ithaca. Its holdings include the Palisades Center, one of the largest regional malls in the United States.