Architecture

Billionaire hatches ambitious plan to create an entire new city in the US

Billionaire hatches ambitious ...
Telosa would include buildings designed by BIG, with sustainable design features including rainwater collection and solar power
Telosa would include buildings designed by BIG, with sustainable design features including rainwater collection and solar power
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Telosa would measure 150,000 acres (roughly 60,700 hectares)
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Telosa would measure 150,000 acres (roughly 60,700 hectares)
Telosa would include buildings designed by BIG, with sustainable design features including rainwater collection and solar power
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Telosa would include buildings designed by BIG, with sustainable design features including rainwater collection and solar power
Telosa would be organized around pedestrians and cyclists, but would also feature slow-moving autonomous vehicles
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Telosa would be organized around pedestrians and cyclists, but would also feature slow-moving autonomous vehicles
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American entrepreneur Marc Lore has revealed an incredibly ambitious plan to create a new city from scratch in the United States. Named Telosa, the project is designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and, if built – which is by no means certain at this stage – would be located on an unoccupied site somewhere in the US, with the first residents moving in by 2030.

Lore, who is a former banker and successful businessman best known for selling his e-commerce site Jet.com to Walmart for US$3.3 billion a few years ago, insists the city will not be utopian in nature, though his pitch does bring to mind earlier experiments in utopian cities by European settlers in the USA.

"Capitalism has been an incredible economic model, but there are significant flaws, especially around income and wealth inequality," says Lore. "Many of these flaws are a result of the land ownership model that America was built on. There's a finite amount of land and that land was claimed generations ago – communities were created, tax dollars were used to invest in the land, and therefore the land increased in value over time with landowners not having to produce anything or take any risk. Land could essentially go from a barren piece of desert to a modern day city worth billions (or even trillions!)."

Telosa would be organized around pedestrians and cyclists, but would also feature slow-moving autonomous vehicles
Telosa would be organized around pedestrians and cyclists, but would also feature slow-moving autonomous vehicles

Lore's response to this is something he calls Equitism, which in this case would involve acquiring a huge plot of land measuring 150,000 acres (roughly 60,700 hectares) that would be donated to a community endowment. This would then democratically manage income from ground leases and land appreciation to support city services, education, healthcare and more, without raising taxes.

Details are still very light at this early stage, however, the renders depict an idyllic city with farms and greenery filled buildings boasting energy efficient design features like solar panels and rainwater collection. A large tower called Equitism Tower would rise from a central park and also integrate lots of greenery. Pedestrians would be prioritized throughout the city, with transportation made up of cyclists, slow-moving autonomous cars, what looks like a suspended monorail and possibly even eVTOL air taxis.

The idea is to build the city in stages. The initial stage would cost over $25 billion and consist of a 1,500-acre (607-hectare) site housing 50,000 residents, then grow in size and cost to over 5 million residents and $400 billion over the following decades. Funding is expected to come from various sources including private investors, philanthropists, federal and state grants, and subsidies.

A location has not been chosen yet, though Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Texas, and the Appalachian Region are all named as frontrunners – one key concern will be that it has natural resources like water too, which is a dire problem in some areas of the US.

Telosa would measure 150,000 acres (roughly 60,700 hectares)
Telosa would measure 150,000 acres (roughly 60,700 hectares)

To say that Telosa will be difficult to realize is putting it mildly and the potential pitfalls – and criticisms (especially with regard to the environment) – are considerable. Still, it's definitely a project to watch. It's also not without recent precedent. Bill Gates has previously revealed plans to build a city, while Prince Charles successfully created a town in England.

Sources: BIG, Telosa

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14 comments
14 comments
Edward Dodson
Mr. Lore knows enough about how land markets operate to understand that as soon as potential locations of the new city are suggested, the asking price for land will climb. What he needs to do is begin taking options on well-located and adequately-watered rural land in several different parts of the country. What is described is essentially a community land trust model, the key to which is that ground rents must be adjusted regularly so that the full market-determined ground rent is collected to pay for public goods and services.
Alan Reyes
All utopian concepts fail because they do not include natural economics and start with government. Cities exist where work and jobs exist. Utopian concepts are fundamentally government based ideas. But government is a subsidiary, not a primary concept. First is resources that create jobs in a location so people congregate at a location. Only then does the population get to a point that it desires a government or what type it wants.
Douglas Rogers
The Bakken oil fields is a good example of a city growing up around a resource.
GregVoevodsky
I think someone forgot about fast response from cops, firefighters and ambulances - oops. Oh, I forgot bad things don't happen in a Utopia. My money is on China building 1 KM spaceship first. ;-)
Derek Howe
So water source is a primary focus, then they highlight the driest states in the US...
Lucky2BHere
Modern-day China has given us all we need to know about building significant communities *before* there is reason to live there. A manageable physical location of that size is not that hard to find, though the water issue in a few mentioned possible locations is already a deal killer. First, there must be an economic reason - out of the gate - for a large population to settle. New citizens will essentially come from two groups: established, older people and those seeking to establish some kind of career. Both would need compelling reasons to move, the most critical of which would be the prospect of long-term security, which can only happen if particular talents find a place to sustain and grow. Unless the first decade or so is completely subsidized, and those potential citizens drop into a comprehensive plan, a plan like this could be a perpetual chicken-and-egg situation. There is also a lesson to be learned from the few smart city initiatives that were lucky enough to get funding from the seat of national governments. Their ultimate success will depend entirely on how the citizenry will be taken care of as the environment transitions. Surely, starting from scratch was never on the table as it is simply not feasible.
BeatleMacca
Well, la dee frickin da
vince
Sign me up.
Steve Holmes
"Not raise taxes"? Well, if the taxes make everybody poor to start, it would make sense to not raise them
It reminds me Klaus Schwab's World Economic Forum idea with the motto "own nothing and be happy"
fofu
If he really wants to help people why doesn't he buy up all the Dollar homes abandoned in Detroit and rebuild that city? Same in Flint, Cleveland, and a bunch of other cities that already have infrastructure but need in influx of development. This guy is full of ego and no good sense.
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