- Over the years, billionaires and executives have poured millions into building their own utopias.
- Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported Elon Musk plans to build a town named “Snailbrook.”
- From Larry Ellison to Peter Thiel, some of the world’s most powerful men have taken similar steps.
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The billionaire and his associates have bought up at least 3,500 acres of land in Bastrop, Texas, about 35 miles outside of Austin, the publication said.
Signs for a town called “Snailbrook” — a reference to The Boring Company’s mascot — have already begun popping up in the area, Texas resident Chap Ambrose told Insider.
Musk and his employees have described the vision for the city as a “sort of Texas utopia along the Colorado River,” the Journal reported. The town of prefabricated homes will be outfitted with a pool, an outdoor sports area, and a gym, as well as a charter school, the publication has said.
The Tesla CEO also plans to build a private compound just outside of the town where he could live, according to the report.
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In 2021, billionaire announced his plans to create a new city called “Starbase” in Boca Chica, Texas, about 350 miles from Snailbrook. While SpaceX employees have taken over much of Boca Chica, it’s unclear whether Musk ever fully established the city. An official municipality of Starbase has yet to be reported.
Musk’s two cities are presumably, at least in part, an attempt to address the high cost of living for SpaceX and The Boring Company workers — an issue that Musk has commented on in the past.
But Texans near both locations have spoken out against the billionaire’s efforts.
Last week, several hundred Texans gathered at a meeting in Bastrop to comment on The Boring Company’s plans to dump 142,000 gallons of treated wastewater per day into the Colorado River. Similarly, in Boca Chica, locals have sued SpaceX, claiming its rocket tests have caused public beaches to be continually closed and have negatively impacted wildlife.
The SpaceX founder first mentioned the idea of building a Martian metropolis in 2014, and it’s become one of his most popular talking points in the years since.
Last year, Musk said he anticipates colonizing Mars will be “cramped, difficult, hard work.” He has said he hopes the people that would colonize Mars would take the opportunity to “rethink society.”
“It’s very important to emphasize that Mars, especially in the beginning, will not be luxurious,” Musk said.
SpaceX plans to build the self-sustaining city in the coming decades, but the billionaire has said he anticipates he will be “long dead” before his dream can fully become reality. For now, SpaceX’s Starship has yet to land on the moon, much less Mars.
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From Silicon Valley elite like Peter Thiel, who has expressed plans to make their own utopias, to entrepreneurs like Dan Gilbert and Kevin Plank, who have focused on revitalizing existing cities, some of the most powerful people in the world have sought to create their own communities over the years.
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The name Telosa comes from an ancient Greek word meaning “highest purpose.”
At the time, Lore said he wanted to build an egalitarian utopia that about 50,000 people could call home by as soon as 2030. Lore has said the city would be governed by “equitism,” which appears to be a mix of equality and capitalism.
He said that Telosa would be built in the desert, but did not specify the exact location. The city would offer its citizens equal access to education, healthcare, and transportation. Residents would get around in autonomous vehicles, and the city would run on renewable energy, according to Telosa’s website.
The website estimates the endeavor would cost about $400 billion and says citizens would likely be selected through an application process. It is unclear where Lore’s plans for the futuristic city stand today.
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In 2008, Thiel launched a mission to develop a floating city, called a seastead, that would operate independently from existing nations as a small, self-sufficient island.
The billionaire investor said the city would be libertarian and “an escape from politics in all its forms,” and launched the Seasteading Institute with Google software engineer Patri Friedman in 2008.
The group made early strides in planning to build the inorganic detachable island chain off French Polynesia and had an initial agreement with the country, but the government said in 2018 that its contract with the Seasteading Institute had become “obsolete” and “does not bind the country in any way.”
Thiel left the Seasteading Institute’s board in 2011, but to this day, the Seasteading Institute continues to promote the idea on its website.
The Saudi Crown Prince has directed officials to create a city on the scale of the pyramids of Egypt.
Neom, a futuristic megacity development that is located on the Red Sea, has been in the works since 2017. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2019 that plans for the city include artificial rain, a fake moon, robotic maids, robot dinosaurs, a glow-in-the-dark beach, and holographic teachers.
Neom is intended to house millions of people, the majority of whom will live on The Line — a set of two parallel 75-mile-long skyscrapers that will house residences and facilities, including a high-speed train, sports stadium, and yacht marina.
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A subsidiary of Gates’ investment firm 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, AZ Central reported.
At the time, the plan was for 80,000 homes to be built, with 3,800 acres reserved for industrial, office, and retail space, 3,400 acres of open space, and 470 acres dedicated to public schools, the local news outlet said. The publication said the city would be known as “Belmont.”
The agency that holds the property, Belmont Partners, said at the time that it would be designed to feature high-speed networks, data centers, autonomous cars, new manufacturing technologies, and automated logistics hubs.
It’s unclear what has happened with the plans for the development since 2017.
In 2012, the Oracle cofounder bought about 98% of Hawaiian island Lanai for about $300 million, according to Bloomberg.
After acquiring the land, he added a Nobu, created a resort with a wellness center, and renovated the existing hotels on the island.
Since, the island, which is home to about 3,000 people, has become a destination for the ultrawealthy, counting the likes of Tom Cruise, Cindy Crawford, and Will Smith as visitors. Ellison, himself, moved to the island full time in 2020.
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Murdock bought the land in 1985. Before that, the island was controlled by James Dole, the man who established the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, which later became Dole Food Company.
Wexner decided to build his country home in New Albany, Ohio in the 1980s, Bloomberg reported in 2019.
Since, he’s built his own 30-room mansion in the community and acquired 10,000 acres of land around it — buying up the entire town, Bloomberg reported.
Over the past 40 years, he’s developed the town, constructing rows of Georgia style brick mansions that are virtually identical, the publication said. He spends his Saturday mornings driving around to make sure everything is “remaining true to the original vision.”
Jeffrey Epstein reportedly had a hand in helping the billionaire create the town and invested millions of dollars into the project, New York Magazine reported in 2019.
Today, the median household income in New Albany is over $200,000. and the town has a population of about 11,000, Bloomberg said. The median listing price for homes in the town is over $500,000, according to Realtor.com.
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The longtime Shark Tank host bought the small town for about $2 million as a favor to a dying friend, Marty Price.
Price owned the town with two others and did not want his wife to inherit a ghost town, The New York Times reported at the time.
The town was incorporated in 1973 when it only had two businesses, a strip bar and an adult novelty shop, the Times wrote. When it was initially incorporated, the town was home to about 21 people, but after the businesses eventually closed, the residents moved away.
“I don’t know what if anything I will do with it,” Cuban told the Dallas Morning News in 2021.
The billionaire owner of the self-named luxury brand set up his headquarters in Solomeo, a commune in Italy, in 1985, and has turned it into a sort of company town for Brunello Cucinelli SpA and its employees .
Cucinelli has said that he believes the architecture “needs to symbolize higher meanings besides serving a material purpose.” The commune has an open-air theater, a library, and an 18th-century church, Bloomberg reported.
Plank, the founder of Under Armour, announced his $5.5 billion plan for revitalizing Baltimore, Maryland — where his company is based — in 2016.
Similarly, Gilbert, the cofounder of Rocket Mortgage, announced a $500 million investment in plans to revitalize Detroit, Michigan in 2021. His company has poured billions of dollars into the city since moving its headquarters to downtown Detroit in 2010.