WEYMOUTH, Mass. — Kyle Corkum imagines a “smart city” with futuristic amenities like driverless shuttle services, heated sidewalks and a super-resilient energy grid that keeps humming through the harshest of storms.
As chief executive of LStar Ventures, a developer of planned communities, he has a chance to build the neighborhood of his dreams from the ground up on the site of a long-shuttered naval air station in this town just 12 miles south of Boston’s booming technology hub.
LStar, based in Raleigh, N.C., has enlisted General Electric as its partner. Because they are starting from scratch, Mr. Corkum said, the companies can embed smart technology into the energy, water, lighting and transportation systems that will serve the community.
The project comes at a time when the tech industry is under intense scrutiny. Facebook is struggling with revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm, improperly harvested private information from 50 million of the social network’s users. And Uber’s travails include a pedestrian death caused by one of its autonomous vehicles last month.
Still, LStar is pushing ahead with the smart city, called Union Point. Plans include thousands of housing units and millions of square feet of high-tech commercial space on about 1,500 acres that extend into the neighboring towns of Rockland and Abington. The community’s glass towers, public plazas, clustered housing, scattered parks and retail zones will be contained within 500 acres, leaving the rest as dedicated open space.
So far, the community consists of about 1,200 occupied single-family homes, townhouses and apartments, as well as a nearly completed $28 million sports complex with a miniature replica of Fenway Park. A cavernous aircraft hangar will be renovated for use as the centerpiece for a downtown district with shops, restaurants and open spaces with public programming.