Silicon Valley Investors Plan To Build A Retro City On Northern California Farmland
A group of Silicon Valley investors that spent $800M on farmland in Northern California is planning to build a “city of yesterday,” though it remains unclear just what they have in mind.
Some of tech’s biggest names — including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Stripe co-founders and siblings Patrick and John Collison, and Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital — are among the deep-pocketed individuals behind Flannery Associates, a group that has amassed 5,200 acres northeast of San Francisco.
At the company’s helm is Jan Sramek, a 36-year old former Goldman Sachs trader, according to Insider. The final product will be inspired by “great, old American neighborhoods” and will stand in stark contrast to what other billionaires have envisioned as utopias of the future, Sramek told a local radio station in Northern California earlier this week.
“We think that there's so much wisdom in how we built cities and towns over the last hundreds of thousands of years in some places,” he said in an interview with KQED. “And so from the beginning, we've believed that you go back to go forward.”
Outside of divulging that the dominant housing type will be row houses, the team has shared little about its plans for the development, a lack of transparency that has prompted both skepticism and outright opposition.
Farmland is already in short supply in California, and some leaders have questioned why the investors wouldn’t spend their money on much-needed housing in the Bay Area.
"Here's my suggestion: these billionaires take their billions of dollars and go back down to Silicon Valley and build high-rise apartments there that are low-income so that their employees can work and live in the same area," Catherine Moy, mayor of Fairfield, California, told Insider.
Flannery’s purchases are the latest in a string of ultrarich individuals snapping up land with vague plans for development. Mark Cuban purchased Mustang, Texas, a 77-acre town south of Dallas, in late 2021 for an undisclosed amount. Some demolition has occurred, but Cuban’s intentions for Mustang remain unknown.
Elon Musk has been vocal about plans to build a Texas oasis in the Austin area for employees who work at the nearby Tesla, Boring Co. and SpaceX facilities. The town, dubbed Snailbrook, already features modular homes, a pool, an outdoor sports area and a gym.