March 17, 2018

Bill Gates invests $115 million to build 'smart city' in Arizona

14 November 2017, 07:29 | Melvin Schneider

One of the richest men in the world wants to build its own city and fulfill a tech dream for people to enjoy. Image Compfight

One of the richest men in the world wants to build its own city and fulfill a tech dream for people to enjoy. Image Compfight

One of his investment firms has purchased almost 25,000 acres of land for $80 million to build a smart city community in Arizona, the Arizona Republic reports.

The community in Belmont will be designed around high-speed networks, autonomous vehicles, high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and autonomous logistics hubs.

The proposed planned community is the ideal intersection of Gates' interests in philanthropy and technology.

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.

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.

Larry Yount, Manager of Belmont Partners, added, "The Belmont development exemplifies the big picture-thinking that has been a unique hallmark of Arizona's history of economic development".

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Gates sees the city, tentatively named "Belmont", as a chance to build information networking into the bedrock of any future development there.

Out of the 25,000 acres, some 3,800 acres would be used for offices and commercial spaces, 470 acres would be used for public schools, while the remaining area would be used to accommodate as many as 80,000 residential units, among other features.

Currently, no timeline has been released relating the development of the smart city of tomorrow.

This is not the first "smart city" to be proposed: the "groundwork" is being laid in Denver, as well as across the globe in China, to develop existing cities into "smart cities" through technology and innovation initiatives. The United Nations predicts 2.5 billion people will move into cities by 2050.

Arizona is no stranger to utopian city projects. In many cities, the infrastructure technology is decades-old and inadequate for today's demands. But perhaps it will bring utopian ideas of planned communities, mostly abandoned in recent decades, into the 21st century. It is not surprising that Gates has put his stamp of approval on the idea.

Mr Gates, the world's second richest man after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, plans to make driverless cars the norm in the new city.

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