Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates wants to construct a futuristic city in Arizona. A group that is associated with an investment company owned by Gates has invested $80 million in a development that will be high-tech and located outside Phoenix.
The community by Belmont is to be designed around autonomous vehicles, high-speed networks, data centers, digital networks, the latest manufacturing technologies as well as autonomous logistics hubs.
What is not clear is how much Gates, who is the owner of Belmont’s parent business Cascade Investments, is going to be involved with in the buildout.
Belmont Partners, a real investment group based in Arizona leads the project and said it would be similar to the size of Tempe, Arizona, which is nearby, and has a population of approximately 182,000.
A spokesperson for the new venture said that envisioning a future infrastructure from the first building block is much easier as well as cost effective than to retrofit an urban fabric already in existence.
Arizona is considered to be a tech friendly state. Several big players working on autonomous vehicles including Intel, Uber and Waymo are testing innovations in Arizona.
The investment represents the latest example of the excitement that surrounds the rebuilding of cities from the ground up having a digital mind set.
However, developing this new metropolis or just a neighborhood is not inexpensive. Sidewalk Labs, the urban innovation segment of Alphabet, last month committed $50 million to be used during the initial phase of planning as well as pilot testing the development of a neighborhood in Toronto.
It is designed to be a model neighborhood in the 21st century that includes reduction of pollution, safer streets, shorter commutes, and better weather.
The transportation will concentrate on shared electric vehicles, biking and walking. Zoning that is more flexible will blend residential, industrial and commercial.
Just one week following the announcement of the Toronto neighborhood, Saudi Arabia made an announcement of its plans to invest more than $500 billion for a new worldwide hub that is meant to push all boundaries of innovations as well as exemplify what civilization will be in the future.
The trend toward smart cities has gained much momentum as disruptors of Silicon Valley shift focus to innovations in transportation such as ride sharing services and autonomous vehicles.
The developers from Belmont are counting on Interstate 11 being developed, which will serve that area, to boost overall development, but at this point the company is not rushing too fast.