Silicon Valley titans behind mystery $1B land buy near California military base: reports

Silicon Valley titans behind mystery $1B land buy near California military base: reports

The mystery buyers of nearly $1 billion of undeveloped land abutting a California military base were revealed to be Silicon Valley heavyweights — and not a network of Chinese spies as some lawmakers feared.

The land grab near Travis Air Force Base by Flannery Associates — which has become the largest landowner in Solano County, about 60 miles northeast of San Francisco — had prompted concern that a foreign entity could be using the investment to harm US national security.

However, it turns out Flannery’s backers are a who’s who list of tech titans and investors that includes LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Emerson Collective philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, according to the New York Times.

The deep-pocketed investors reportedly plan to turn the land into their vision of an ideal city, featuring sustainable energy and a pedestrian-friendly layout.

Aside from Hoffman and Powell Jobs, Flannery’s investors reportedly include Marc Andreessen of the private venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, former Sequoia Capital partner Michael Moritz and Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison, as well as entrepreneurs Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross.

“We are proud to partner on a project that aims to deliver good-paying jobs, affordable housing, clean energy, sustainable infrastructure, open space and a healthy environment to residents of Solano County,” Flannery spokesperson Brian Brokaw said in a statement obtained by the Wall Street Journal.

Reid Hoffman is co-founder of LinkedIn.

Laurene Powell Jobs is another tech titan invested in the project.

“We are excited to start working with residents and elected officials, as well as with Travis Air Force Base, on making that happen,” Brokaw added.

The Post has reached out to Brokaw and several of the reported investors for comment.

The group is said to be led by Jan Sramek, a 36-year-old former Goldman Sachs trader who has spent the last few years securing funds from Silicon Valley luminaries for the project.

It’s unclear how much each investor has contributed to Flannery.

The deep-pocketed investors reportedly plan to turn the land into their vision of an ideal city.

The city is said to be featuring sustainable energy and a pedestrian-friendly layout.

In total, the group has spent more than $800 million to acquire thousands of acres of land in the region, according to the New York Times.

In a 2017 email to a prospective investor obtained by the Times, Moritz stated that “this effort should relieve some of the Silicon Valley pressures we all feel — rising home prices, homelessness, congestion etc.”

Flannery’s recent buying spree has generated growing unease among nearby residents as well as the federal government, which had launched a probe in July into the land purchases.

In recent days, local residents in Solano County had reportedly been bombarded with surveys via text messages.

The surveys asked for their thoughts on a planned city with “tens of thousands of new homes” as well as features such as orchards and a solar energy farm, according to the Journal, which obtained screenshots of the texts.

Federal officials had raised national security concerns over the mysterious land grab.

Much of the land is located near Travis Air Force Base in California.

Meanwhile, Flannery recently filed a lawsuit in May against a group of local landowners, alleging that they colluded in a price-fixing scheme to drive up the cost of their properties.

Lawyers for the landowners reportedly denied wrongdoing.

Reps. John Garamendi and Mike Thompson, local Democratic lawmakers who had earlier called for the Committee on Foreign Investment to look into the land purchases, said Friday that Flannery had requested meetings about the project, according to the report.

“There’s just a whole host of questions about their megacity,” Garamendi told the Journal. “What are you guys doing with Travis? What are your intentions here?”

In order to proceed with the project, Flannery would likely have to clear many local legal and regulatory hurdles, including approval by local voters.

Marc Andreesen is one of Flannery’s backers.

Michael Moritz has reportedly pitched investors on the project since 2017.

The land it has acquired is zoned for agricultural, not residential, use.

Flannery had earlier downplayed concerns about the project, asserting that 97% of the money had come from American investors, with the rest coming from British or Irish backers.

Source: Thomas

30 de August de 2023

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