World : Bill Gates' investment group spent $80 million to build a 'smart city' in the desert - and urban planners are divided

  • A subsidiary of Bill Gates' investment firm has committed $80 million toward building a "smart city" in Belmont, a parcel of land in Arizona.
  • Business Insider spoke with several urban planning experts who disagree on whether it is the ideal place for a "smart city."
  • They list Arizona's low land prices, autonomous vehicle-friendly policy, and population growth as advantages. S ome argue the location's ongoing water crisis and distance from Phoenix pose challenges.


An investment firm with ties to Bill Gates may have plans to build a "smart city " in the Arizona desert.

As the Arizona Republic reported earlier in November, Mt. Lemmon Holdings, a subsidiary of Gates' investment firm Cascade Investment LLC, bought land in southwestern Arizona for the construction of a 24,800-acre development consisting of residences; public schools; and office, commercial, and retail space.

Mt. Lemmon Holdings committed $80 million for the development, which will feature high-speed public wifi, self-driving cars, and high-tech manufacturing facilities , according to Belmont Partners, which owns the property. The company declined to comment on other specifics about the project.

In recent years, the term "smart city" has evolved beyond high-speed internet and embedded sensors to include characteristics like high density, affordable housing, access to mass transit, climate resilience, and ample green space. Business Insider consulted several urban planners, artificial intelligence experts, and policy managers to get their takes on whether southwestern Arizona is the best place to build one.


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Smart Grid Bulletin May 2020

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