Having started and sold four companies, American serial entrepreneur and investor, Marc Lore has embarked on his biggest venture yet – Telosa, a city he is building from scratch to test a new model for society called ‘Equitism’.
Bjarke Ingels Group, a Copenhagen and New York-based global architecture practice, has partnered with Lore to design a new city from the ground up to eventually house 5 million people. To be built on up to 150,000 acres of land in the US, the proposed city will be ‘open, fair and inclusive’ and aims to address the current disparity that has only increased the gaps in wealth and income inequality.
“We didn’t set out to build a city,” says Lore, “but we found ourselves wondering: With all the progress we’ve made in the last 100 years, why are so many people still barely getting by?”
“There are varying opinions on how to solve this — from increasing taxes for the wealthy and raising wages, to capping the top, reforming the education system, and providing more affordable housing. But across the board, we haven’t been able to agree on a proper path forward. So we started asking, how can we do better?”
Identifying land ownership as the main problem, he observed, “There’s a finite amount of land, and landowners essentially have a monopoly. In addition, once the land has been claimed and given rise to communities, its value continues to increase without the landowners actually having to provide anything.”
However, if that land was owned by a community endowment instead, any land appreciation could be put back into the community that had actually created the value. With plenty of land still available in the United States, Lore and his team realised that the best way to demonstrate this new economic model would be to start with a clean slate and build a city from scratch.
“If we bought, say, 200,000 acres and built a city of 5 million people, then those acres would go from being worth nothing to being worth about a trillion dollars. And if the community sold the land and created an endowment — similar to a university or hospital endowment — they could earn $50 billion a year. $50 billion that would go back to the citizens in the form of healthcare, education, jobs training, affordable housing, and more,” Lore explained.
Lore calls this new economic model Equitism – one that is driven by the mission of creating a more equitable future. Inspired by this vision for a new city and a new model for society, the Junto Group was formed. Comprising of a diverse team of urban planners, designers, historians, community engagement experts, economists, financial managers, scientists, and engineers, this group will ask and address all the right questions, Lore said.
According to Lore, the city of Telosa itself will set a new standard for urban living. The city will be focused on actual human beings, create opportunity and equality, celebrate diversity and inclusion, and provide a sense of pride for where we live.
“If we get this right, it could serve as the blueprint for a new economic model to benefit the world for generations to come,” he added.
Telosa will not just be equitable; it will also be sustainable. The city will be powered by 100% renewable energy; ensure 90% water reduction; and have a zero-waste goal along with zero autonomous mobility emissions.
“To be clear, we’re not building a private city or a political utopia. Nor is this a project that has any sort of return for us personally. But we’re incredibly proud that we’re putting people at its centre. We’ve started with a mission and a set of values — open, fair, inclusive — and will be taking demonstrable steps to live these values better than any other city in the world,” he said.
According to Telosa’s developers, the city will feature an efficient water system that’s resistant to drought; autonomous cars as part of a collective and active transportation system to reduce commuting time; a high quality education system; diverse housing options accessible for all through inclusive zoning, and affordable and sustainable mixed-income housing; safe public spaces with native planting; and more.
The first residents are expected to move into Telosa in 2030.