If you go 45 minutes west of Arizona, you’ll see huge swathes of empty land in the West Valley. In a few years, this land will be occupied by a community of thousands, where the city’s citizens will be driven around in vehicles that are completely autonomous. It will be a smart city that revolves entirely around cutting edge technology. Think it sounds like a dreamt-up utopia? Think again. This is the project that billionaire Bill Gates has just invested $80 million into.
The investment firm Cascade Investment LLC, which is owned by the Microsoft boss, has just funded the 25,000-acre project in partnership with real-estate investment company, Belmont Partners. The project will see the ‘smart city’ of Belmont built on the undeveloped land of Arizona.
“Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centres, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs,” Belmont Partners said in a press release.
The 25,000-acre land will be divvied up in a way that most benefits the Belmont community. 3,800 of the city’s acres will be used for office, retail and commercial space, 470 acres will be used for public schools, and the rest of the land will be used to build 80,000 residential homes.
“Belmont will transform a raw, blank slate into a purpose-built edge city built around a flexible infrastructure model,” Belmont Partners said in a statement.
And while it seems like Belmont could bring some much-needed attention to a place which gets little, the city of the future sounds slightly like a vanity project for Bill Gates. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Like in a game of SimCity, Gates will build a connected environment and funnel thousands upon thousands of people into it. Depending on how Gates plays the game, he might have a city on his hands that is better than anything we can see in the real world. Unlike in a game though, Belmont might end up a mess that can’t be fixed with the press of a Start Over button.
If you want to take up residency at Bill Gates’ connected city of Belmont, you’re going to have to wait. There’s no word on when construction will start or even when they hope to have the city completed.