A languishing brownfield site. A developer’s visions of castles in the sky. Corporate partnerships to build cutting-edge smart city infrastructure. And the promise of luring tech giants prepared to invest billions.
The hype could have easily described Sidewalk Labs’ now aborted Toronto venture, but this story actually played out near Boston, on a decommissioned airbase in Weymouth, about half an hour southwest of a city known for its Ivy League colleges and the booming tech industry spawned by MIT.
When LStar, a North Carolina developer, began building Union Point in the mid-2010s on that base, it looked a lot like many generic master-planned edge city projects. But a partnership LStar established with General Electric in 2017 promised much more: not just a fully wired community, but intelligent lighting (LED street lamps that can be remotely monitored), autonomous vehicles, green energy “micro-grids” and streets equipped with sensors that would gauge traffic,