Everyone has done this exercise in imagination: What would you do if you had a lot of money and influence? Well, some very wealthy individuals think it would be a good idea to build their own city.
This is the case for Marc Lore, entrepreneur and NBA team owner; Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft; and Jeffrey Berns, cryptocurrency billionaire.
Each has outlined a different vision of the ideal city, but in common are ambitious ideas of a modern, smart, sustainable urban center that many consider impossible to make a reality. Is it?
TELOSA BY MARC LORE
Telosa is a proposed utopian planned US city conceived by American billionaire Marc Lore and announced in September 2021.
The project has a target population of 5 million people by 2050, with the first phase of construction expected to house 50,000.
(The city of Telosa)
The location had initially not been chosen, with the project’s planners intending for the city to be built on cheap land in Appalachia or the American West desert.
The name Telosa is derived from the Ancient Greek word telos, meaning “purpose”.
The entrepreneur, once CEO of Walmart e-commerce, wants to create a sustainable metropolis in the American desert.
Everything has already been designed by a famous architectural firm – all that remains is to raise US$400 billion in financing.
The choice of location is also pending. Among the places in the planners’ sights are lands in the states of Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, and Texas, for example.
The city would have a different economic system based on the concept of equity: the urban space would be public domain, and everyone could invest in it, having the earnings then reinvested in the population’s quality of life.
“When I look 30 years from now, I imagine equity serving as a model for other cities – and even the world – and Telosa being a place of pride for everyone who lives there,” said Marc Lore.
Besides the socio-economic proposal, Telosa would have a strong, sustainable character, with 100% renewable energy, a goal of zero waste, a 90% reduction in water usage thanks to a storage system, aeroponic farms for local agricultural production, and free areas per capita six times larger than the country’s average.
The urban design would allow residents to have all the needed services no more than 15 minutes from home.
Mobility would be multi-mode, with streets prioritizing bicycles and pedestrians and sharing space with slow, zero-carbon autonomous cars.
Planning also contemplates a circular economy and a fund to restore critical habitats and preserve the region’s natural resources.
“Our mission soon became not only to create a more egalitarian future but also a more sustainable one,” says the project’s website.
If Telosa gets off the ground, the forecast is that in 10 to 20 years, the urban area will be 30,000 acres with 1 million people, and in 40 years, it will reach 150,000 acres and a population of 5 million people.
The plan is divided into phases over the decades. The initial stage alone (1,500 acres, 50,000 residents) would cost more than US$25 billion, apart from the US$400 billion for building the city.
Funding would come from various sources, such as private investors, philanthropists, federal and state funds, and economic development grants.
According to the project presentation, the biggest challenge in making Lore’s dream a reality is to generate public and political support.
Therefore, the venture’s website invites people to get involved by giving suggestions and spreading ideas.
“We are absolutely not trying to create a utopia,” declares the creators.
“We are firmly grounded in reality and what is possible, focused on the best and most sustainable solutions for infrastructure, urban design, economic vitality, and services, but no solution is perfect. So we bet on new ideas.”
BELMONT BY BILL GATES
The co-founder of Microsoft and one of the richest people on the planet, Bill Gates, also has plans to create a smart city from scratch.
Named Belmont, it is built around cutting-edge technologies and would bring together, for example, advanced solar and electrical power distribution systems, clean autonomous vehicles, broadband, and data centers.
(Tthe city of Belmont)
The new urban center would be built on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona, on a deserted and unpopulated area of nearly 25,000 acres purchased over five years ago for US$80 million.
Of the total, 3,800 acres would be dedicated to commercial space and 470 acres for public schools.
In the remainder, about 80,000 residences would be built for approximately 180,000.
So far, in practice, the idea has not evolved much beyond the purchase of the land in Arizona – Gates would only have added another 2,800 acres in the town of Buckeye in the same region – but the plan still stands.
Meanwhile, he has become increasingly involved in environmental issues.
The billionaire has become an activist in the fight against global warming and has even released a book on the subject, arguing that the way to eliminate carbon emissions lies in innovation, with technology promoting sustainability.
Belmont would be a practical example of this.
Below is one of Gates’ recent YouTube videos, talking about smart, more sustainable buildings that would likely be in the city he imagined:
PAINTED ROCK BY JEFFREY BERNS
In 2018, Jeffrey Berns, CEO of the software company Blockchains LLC, paid US$170 million for a barren piece of land of more than 67,000 acres in the northern US state of Nevada.
The goal: to build a smart, sustainable city powered by blockchain technology.
Advertised as “a new kind of commercial and residential community,” Painted Rock would have everything of an ordinary city – homes, businesses, schools, and the like, which would be rented out – but with the difference that residents would use services and cryptocurrencies in blockchain applications.
Two major architectural firms have been hired to develop the megaproject, but neither has released many details of environmental issues such as water, energy, and transportation.
All that is known is that the city would be carbon neutral and have non-polluting autonomous vehicles driving in and through the large buildings.
Painted Rock would be in a location known as Innovation Park, bordering hubs of tech giants, and would have about 36,000 residents and 15,000 homes.
But to get the city off the ground, Berns has asked the state of Nevada for at least two years that wealthy developers with innovative technology and large land holdings break away from existing counties and form a new local government.
In other words, he wants Painted Rock to have autonomy over everything from collecting taxes to environmental management and law enforcement.
Can you imagine if this trend catches on?
Telosa Smart City, Belmong Smart city, Painted Rock Smart City, NEOM Smart City,