Developer goes public with ‘multi-decade’ proposals after acquiring 20,230ha of land

A development company has released details of long-term plans to create a new city in Northern California bankrolled with almost US$1bn of funding from technology billionaires.

California Forever said it had acquired more than 20,230ha of land in Solano County, north east of San Francisco, with the intention of creating new homes in “walkable” neighbourhoods in developments that “lead in environmental stewardship”.

The firm was founded in 2017 and its acquisition drive has been conducted by subsidiary company Flannery Associates. However the company has only set out its plans this month – and pointedly without an indication of the magnitude of new homes it anticipates delivering.

California Forever said backers of the project, which has reportedly made USD$900m of acquisitions so far, include entrepreneur and Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen; Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison; internet entrepreneur and Andreessen Horowitz general partner Chris Dixon; and Intel salesman-turned-venture capitalist John Doerr.

Also involved are California YIMBY co-founder Nat Friedman; Daniel Gross, co-founder of search engine Cue; LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Welsh-born journalist-turned-venture-capitalist Michael Moritz, and investor Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of late Apple Inc co-founder Steve Jobs.

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Source: California Forever

Visualisation of proposals for new development in Solano County, California

California Forever said its vision for Solano County was not unprecedented and represented a return to previous long-range pans for the Bay Area, which brings together San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Palo Alto, and the wine-producing areas of Sonoma and Napa Valley

“When preparing long-range plans for the Bay Area, the Association of Bay Area Governments and the US Department of Commerce both concluded that to keep our region affordable, prosperous, and balanced, new industries and communities could be built in eastern Solano,” it said.

“The area had low fire risk, access to water, and was strategically located in the middle of the larger Northern California region. All that remains true today. Let’s dust off those plans, and breathe new life into them.”

Solano 1

Source: California Forever

California Forever CEO Jan Sramek is a former London School of Economics student and previously worked for investment giant Goldman Sachs.

The company said Sramek had moved to California a decade ago and “fell in love” with Solano County following fishing trips on the California Delta.

“Having previously lived in many of the world’s most walkable, liveable, and sustainable towns and cities, Jan became interested in fusing what he learned about those liveable communities with those old plans for eastern Solano,” it said. ”He became committed to a vision for the future of Solano County.”

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Source: California Forever

An agricultural landscape in Solano County, California

California Forever said its plans would include solar farms and open space – both agriculture and habitat conservation. It said the project would also “protect and support” Travis Air Force Base, which is located close to many of its land acquisitions.

The company said it was at “the beginning” of a “decades-long collaboration with Solano’s residents, elected officials and agencies” in relation to the project.

It said the Solano team included city planner and urbanist Gabriel Metcalf, San Francisco-based urban design and strategy practice Sitelab Urban Studio, civil design firm Carlson, Barbee & Gibson, and CMG Landscape Architecture.

Solano 6

Source: California Forever