Business law

Silicon Valley billionaires are buying 52,000 acres of farmland in California to build a new city from scratch


An anonymous reader shared This report from New York:
In 2017, billionaire venture capitalist Michael Moretz sent a note to a potential investor about what he described as an extraordinary opportunity: an opportunity to invest in a new city in California. The site was in a corner of the San Francisco Bay Area where land was cheap. Moritz and others dreamed of turning tens of thousands of acres into a bustling metropolis that, according to the show, could generate thousands of jobs and be as walkable as Paris or New York’s West Village.

He painted a kind of blank urban canvas in which everything from design to building methods and new forms of government could be rethought. And it would all be a short distance from San Francisco and Silicon Valley… Since then, a company called Flannery Associates has purchased large parcels of land in a largely agricultural area 60 miles northeast of San Francisco. Court documents show that the company, which has little public information about its operations, set aside more than $800 million to secure thousands of acres of farmland. Parcel after parcel, Flannery made offers to each landowner for miles, paying many times the market price, whether the land was for sale or not…

Brian Brokaw, a representative of the investor group, said in a statement that the group is made up of “California residents who believe that the best days of Solano County and California are ahead.” He said the group plans to begin working with Solano County residents and elected officials, as well as with Travis Air Force Base, next week… The land Flannery was buying isn’t intended for residential use, and even at his 2017 stadium Moretz acknowledged that rezoning could “present a distinct challenge.” – referring to the difficult and controversial development process in California. To get the project done, the company would certainly have to use the state’s initiative system to get Solano County residents to vote on it. The hope is that voters will be seduced by promises of thousands of local jobs; Increase tax revenue. and investments in infrastructure such as parks, a performing arts center, shopping and dining, and a trade school.
Their project “should relieve some of the Silicon Valley stresses we’re all feeling—rising house prices, homelessness, congestion, and so forth,” Moretz argued in the 2017 email.

SFGate estimates that the group now owns 52,000 acres – “an An empire nearly twice the size of the city of San Francisco– She points out that some details emerged when the group submitted a document to respond to a lawsuit. – Free for decades, and you will receive “substantial grants from Flannery to charity, to be used at the (landowners’) discretion to support local schools and other nonprofits.”

“Tech Billionaires Reportedly Support Mysterious Solano County Landgrab,” the headline read. On to a recent SFGate article:

SFGATE reported earlier this week A survey distributed to residents of Solano County asked their opinions on the potential development of “a new city with tens of thousands of new homes, a large solar farm, orchards with more than a million new trees, and more than ten thousand acres of land.” New parks and open spaces.


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