Autonomous vehicles, grass rooftops, gigabit fiber, automated waste disposal and scores of sensors are just a few of the amenities envisioned for Union Point, a new smart city development set for construction just 12 miles outside Boston.
Real estate developer LStar Ventures and local architects Sasaki Associates and Elkus Manfredi are marketing the development as a complete smart city, a “living laboratory” designed to exemplify the next generation of residential and commercial living. Union Point will be built on top of a former airfield and offer its citizens more than 10 million square feet of commercial space, 4,000 private residences, 50 miles of biking trails and 1,000 acres of open space to explore, according to the company.
Construction is already underway, and the first buildings are expected to be constructed by 2019. Kyle Corkum, the CEO and managing partner of LStar Ventures, said in a statement he expects that Union Point will have an unprecedented impact on 21st century building standards.
“People ask me to put what Union Point is in one succinct sentence and I can’t do it,” Corkum said. “It’s more than a real estate development, it’s more than a smart city, it’s more than sustainability. For us, it’s an opportunity to create an environment that’s built around people first and their stewardship of the land and the way technology, arts, education, culture, all of that, fits into a place where your can work and live.”
The smart city is courting Amazon to be a potential home for its next headquarters. In its response to Amazon’s request for proposals in October, LStar Ventures said some of Union Point’s innovations will include streets designed with signage and parking for fully autonomous vehicles. Infrastructure sensors will monitor the city with analytics. Plans also call for solar-powered facilities, an on-site waste water treatment center, and an automated waste collection system.
In its RFP response, the developer says Amazon could secure about 100 acres of real estate, valued at $400 million, through purchase credits. For every dollar Amazon spends on local charities in the region around Union Point, LStar Ventures promises to credit Amazon $2 toward the purchase of land.
Though innovative, Union Point is not the first smart city to be built from the ground up. In October, Google announced it would be constructing a district in Toronto with 800 acres of smart infrastructure, and in November, an investment company operated by Bill Gates announced it will put $80 million toward building a smart city from scratch in the Arizona desert.