The mystery buyers of nearly $1 billion of undeveloped land abutting a California military base were revealed to be Silicon Valley heavyweights — and never a network of Chinese spies as some lawmakers feared.
The land grab near Travis Air Force Base by Flannery Associates — which has develop into the most important landowner in Solano County, about 60 miles northeast of San Francisco — had prompted concern that a foreign entity could possibly be using the investment to harm US national security.
Nonetheless, it seems Flannery’s backers are a who’s who list of tech titans and investors that features LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Emerson Collective philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, based on the Latest York Times.
The deep-pocketed investors reportedly plan to show the land into their vision of a really perfect city, featuring sustainable energy and a pedestrian-friendly layout.
Other than Hoffman and Powell Jobs, Flannery’s investors reportedly include Marc Andreessen of the private enterprise capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, former Sequoia Capital partner Michael Moritz and Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison, in addition to entrepreneurs Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross.
“We’re proud to partner on a project that goals to deliver good-paying jobs, reasonably priced housing, clean energy, sustainable infrastructure, open space and a healthy environment to residents of Solano County,” Flannery spokesperson Brian Brokaw said in a press release obtained by the Wall Street Journal.
“We’re excited to begin working with residents and elected officials, in addition to with Travis Air Force Base, on making that occur,” Brokaw added.
The Post has reached out to Brokaw and a number of other of the reported investors for comment.
The group is alleged to be led by Jan Sramek, a 36-year-old former Goldman Sachs trader who has spent the previous couple of years securing funds from Silicon Valley luminaries for the project. It’s unclear how much each investor has contributed to Flannery.
In total, the group has spent greater than $800 million to amass 1000’s of acres of land within the region, based on the Latest York Times.
In a 2017 email to a prospective investor obtained by the Times, Moritz stated that “this effort should relieve a number of the Silicon Valley pressures all of us feel — rising home prices, homelessness, congestion etc.”
Flannery’s recent buying spree has generated growing unease amongst nearby residents in addition to 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 his or her thoughts on a planned city with “tens of 1000’s of latest homes” in addition to features resembling orchards and a solar energy farm, based on the Journal, which obtained screenshots of the texts.
Meanwhile, Flannery recently filed a lawsuit in May against a bunch of local landowners, alleging that they colluded in a price-fixing scheme to drive up the associated fee 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 in regards to the project, based on the report.
“There’s just a complete host of questions on their megacity,” Garamendi told the Journal. “What are you guys doing with Travis? What are your intentions here?”
In an effort to proceed with the project, Flannery would likely need to clear many local legal and regulatory hurdles, including approval by local voters. The land it has acquired is zoned for agricultural, not residential, use.
Flannery had earlier downplayed concerns in regards to the project, asserting that 97% of the cash had come from American investors, with the remaining coming from British or Irish backers.
US lawmakers had expressed concern in regards to the land purchases near Travis Air Force Base after a Chinese company last 12 months bought 300 acres of farmland near a US Air Force base in Grand Forks, ND, that is understood to accommodate sensitive drone technology.