Date
23 November 2017
A group linked to a Bill Gates investment company has invested US$80 million in a high-tech planned development outside Phoenix. Photo: Reuters
A group linked to a Bill Gates investment company has invested US$80 million in a high-tech planned development outside Phoenix. Photo: Reuters

Bill Gates investment group puts US$80m into smart city project

Bill Gates wants to build a futuristic community in Arizona.

A group associated with a Gates investment company has invested US$80 million in a high-tech planned development outside Phoenix, according to local news publication AZ Central.

As CNBC reports, the real estate investment group Belmont Partners said that the yet-to-be-developed community on the west side of Phoenix would have a freeway running to Reno, Nevada, and would be developed around “solar power and electric distribution systems, autonomous auto testing, broadband and data centers”.

The group, controlled by Gates’ investment firm Cascade Investment, bought a stake in a 24,800-acre development in Belmont. The plan is for 80,000 homes to be built, with 3,800 acres reserved for industrial, office, and retail space, 3,400 acres of open space, and 470 acres dedicated to public schools.

It’s unclear how much Gates, the former Microsoft chief executive who owns Belmont’s parent company Cascade Investment, will be involved in the effort.

“Envisioning future infrastructure from scratch is far easier and more cost-efficient than retrofitting an existing urban fabric,” CNN reports, citing Grady Gammage, a spokesman for the investment group in a statement.

The smart city will be designed to feature high-speed networks, data centers, autonomous vehicles, new manufacturing technologies and automated logistics hubs.

Belmont will be located along the proposed freeway I-11, which would run from Reno to Mexico and connect the town to both Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Arizona has a reputation for being a technology-friendly state. Several major players in the autonomous vehicle industry — Waymo, Uber and Intel — are testing their innovations in the state.

The concept of smart cities is steadily gaining pace over recent years. Last month, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs struck a deal to convert an area in Toronto into an “internet city”, where 800 acres of land will be equipped with modern technology like self-driving cars, smart street lights, and public Wi-Fi. The project includes a US$50 million commitment from Sidewalk Labs to install and test the company’s smart city technology.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov. 15

Translation by Ben Ng with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at english@hkej.com

BN/RA

Hong Kong Economic Journal

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