Elon Musk’s Hyperloop could become the centerpiece of a new city in Central California. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, one of the two organizations working to make the superfast transportation system a reality, is planning to build a $100 million Hyperloop test track in a New Town called Quay Valley.
Quay Valley, located just off of Interstate Five in California’s Central Valley, is a 7,500-acre development that is supposed to contain up to 25,000 homes, The Fresno Bee reported. Quay Valley, which straddles I-5, is currently a patch of grazing land in Kings County just north of the Kern County Line.
Developer Quay Hays, a publisher, has applied for rezoning for the project, which he envisions as a showcase for what he calls the “new ruralism.” In addition to the Hyperloop test tract, Quay envisions the community containing a business park, resort hotels, and a university research park. Around 75,000 people would call Quay Valley home.
Hays wants to create a self-sustaining, ecofriendly community. Many questions remain, including where people will work; Quay Valley is 60 miles from the nearest cities, Bakersfield and Fresno, neither of which is known for a robust economy. Also problematic is water; California is currently in the middle of a mega drought.
New Technologies Lead to New Towns
Quay Valley is supposed to be a showcase and testing ground for green technologies like the Hyperloop. Something like Hyperloop could be critical to Quay Valley’s success because people would need to work somewhere. They could work in Los Angeles or the San Francisco Bay area, two areas known for high housing prices, and live at Quay Valley and enjoy a 20-minute commute via Hyperloop.
Several such communities are being developed in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Called New Towns, the communities will contain hundreds of new houses. Most of the projects are being built to take advantage of the high speed rail system being planned by the State of California.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) is the crowd sourced Hyperloop company headed by Dirk Ahlborn. Its resources are limited; currently, employees are working without salary in exchange for a stake in the company, Business Insider reported. It is not clear where the company could get the $100 million needed to build a Hyperloop test track.
One possibility is that it could sell out to Hyperloop Technologies or Hyperloop Tech, a privately-held company headed by venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar. Hyperloop Tech has apparently raised $8 million from Silicon Valley insiders. Hyperloop Tech is building its own testing facility near downtown Los Angeles. Musk is also planning a Hyperloop test track at the headquarters of SpaceX, his privately-held aerospace venture in Hawthorne, California.
Is Quay Valley Our Future?
The Quay Valley new town demonstrates the kind of changes Hyperloop could bring to America. It would create the ultimate suburb or ex-burb, a quasi-rural community far from the city, where people could live or work. Such a community would be dependent on Hyperloop, much as suburbs are dependent upon the automobile.
Such changes have occurred before; suburbs first developed when street cars enabled people to live miles from their jobs. The automobile and the building of better roads caused most Americans to move to suburbs after World War II. The construction of the interstate highway system led to the massive growth of suburbs in the 1970s and 80s.
Obviously, real estate speculators and developers could make large fortunes from this new technology. Those that buy land in the right places or redevelop could be in the position to become the property barons of the future.
Quay Valley is a highly speculative venture that flopped a few years ago when the bottom fell out of the real estate market during the Great Recession. Hays envisions it as a green community that gets most of its electricity from the sun and recycles its wastewater. He also seems to imagine it as a “post-automobile” community, hence the connection to Hyperloop.
If it could become the home of Hyperloop, Quay Valley would be a modern-day boomtown and the center of that industry. It could also become the ultimate bedroom community for Los Angeles.
Hays also envisions Quay Valley as a business hub and a location for businesses such as fulfillment centers, which would also presumably rely upon Hyperloop. One interesting development in our future is that industrial facilities of the future, such as the Gigafactory, would be located far from the cities in the desert. Cities would become gentrified bedroom communities, and workers would commute in via Hyperloop.
Obviously, a lot of people will have a hard time seeing Quay Valley or something like it as our future. Yet it is a stronger possibility than we might think. The idea of a Hyperloop City might seem like a dream to us, but we must ask ourselves if our great-grandparents could have imagined life in a modern auto-oriented suburb.
One has to wonder what other Hyperloop-oriented schemes are coming our way. If this technology works, we could see the greatest real estate bubble in history—one that will create a lot of fortunes and leave a lot of broken dreams in its wake. If it works, Hyperloop will change our country, our cities, and our way of life beyond recognition.