A mystery company supported by rich people from Silicon Valley is buying a lot of land in a county in northern California. It seems like they want to create a whole new city in the state.
According to The New York Times, these investors are well-known people from Silicon Valley, like Marc Andreessen and Laurene Powell Jobs.
The company called Flannery Associates has used $800 million to buy a lot of farmland in Solano County. This county is located to the northeast of San Francisco. According to court documents.
As per The Wall Street Journal, Flannery has bought approximately 52,000 acres of farmland near Travis Air Force Base since 2018. The report mentioned that government officials started looking into these purchases because they were worried that the company might have connections to foreign interests.
Catherine Moy, who is the mayor of Fairfield, said to ABC 7 News, “The whole base is now surrounded. Every part of it is touched by Flannery.”
We don’t know much about Flannery Associates or the exact plans they have for the city.
As reported by The Times, Jan Sramek, a 36-year-old who used to work as a trader at Goldman Sachs, is leading the company.
The report states that those supporting Flannery include Andreessen, Powell Jobs, Michael Moritz from Sequoia Capital, Reid Hoffman who co-founded LinkedIn, and some other people.
Up until now, the amount each of them invested in the company is not clear.
Back in 2017, Flannery Associates proposed a concept to transform the land in Solano County into a city where people can easily walk around. This city would run on clean energy and could accommodate tens of thousands of residents, as mentioned in The Times. Data about real estate indicates that the typical housing price in the county is currently $585,000.
In an email obtained by The Times, Moritz mentioned that Flannery had bought approximately 1,400 acres of land for a price of under $5,000 per acre.
However, the cost has increased significantly over time. Lawyers representing Flannery Associates mentioned in court papers that Flannery is now spending as much as $15,000 per acre.
During May, Flannery’s legal representatives filed a lawsuit against a group of landowners in Solano County. They alleged that these landowners worked together to artificially raise the prices of their land.
The legal case claims that Flannery paid the owners more than necessary by around $170 million. The lawsuit aims to get compensation of at least $510 million.
In a request to have the lawsuit thrown out, which was submitted in July, the landowners stated that they have either honestly conducted fair transactions for selling land or were not enticed by Flannery’s offers because they had no intention or capability to sell.
For a while now, Silicon Valley has been interested in building a new city from scratch, often with an idealistic idea of a “smart city.”
Back in 2016, Y Combinator, a startup accelerator from Silicon Valley, started exploring the possibility of constructing a city to tackle California’s issue with affordable housing.
“We want to build cities for all humans — for tech and non-tech people,” the accelerator wrote. “We’re not interested in building ‘crazy libertarian utopias for techies.'”
Lately, Musk bought 3,500 acres of land near Austin, Texas, with plans to construct a town he’s naming “Snailbrook.”
Sources informed that he imagined something like a “Texas paradise” along the Colorado River.