Bill Gates is apparently joining the ranks of technologists who want to build a better city.
One of his investment firms has purchased nearly 25,000 acres of land for $80 million to build a smart city community in Arizona, the Arizona Republic reports. The undeveloped land is about 45 minutes outside of Phoenix.
Arizona-based real estate investment group Belmont Partners says the community will incorporate high-speed digital networks, data centers, self-driving cars, and other new technologies into its infrastructure.
A new investment firm called Mt. Lemmon invested the $80 million to get the project off the ground. The Republic discovered the connection to Gates by linking the investment group’s tax mailing address with the Kirkland, Wash. headquarters of Cascade Investments and an office of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Representatives of Gates have not responded to GeekWire’s inquiries on the issue nor confirmed the connection between him and Mt. Lemmon.
The investment will help create Belmont, “a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology,” according to a press release issued Nov. 3.
Belmont’s proximity to Phoenix could further develop the region as a hub for self-driving cars. Alphabet’s autonomous car company, Waymo announced plans to test a fleet of its driverless vehicles in Phoenix last week.
Belmont will have 80,000 residential units, 3,800 acres of industrial, office, and commercial space, 3,400 acres of open space, and 460 acres for public schools.
“Belmont is an incredible opportunity for the state of Arizona,” Grady Gammage, Jr., an attorney representing Belmont Partners, said in a statement. “Envisioning future infrastructure from scratch is far easier and more cost-efficient than retrofitting an existing urban fabric.”
The tech industry is becoming acutely interested in cities and innovations that can make them run more efficiently. Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs is building a high-tech waterfront community in Toronto and Amazon is seeking a home for its second headquarters with a modern transportation infrastructure and an appetite for innovation. It’s not clear how involved Gates will be in Belmont, but the smart city’s goals appear similar to those of Alphabet and Amazon.