Can Billionaires Improve a City's Quality of Life?

  • Sep 7th 2012

by Shilpi Paul

Can Billionaires Improve a City's Quality of Life?: Figure 1

Billionaires have the capacity to effect change through their dollars in a variety of ways; contributing to a Super PAC, buying ownership of a magazine or starting a foundation are a few of the ways that America’s wealthiest have used their money to try to shape the world into one they like.

This week, UrbanTurf came across a new one: news came out that Google co-founder Sergey Brin has been using his considerable wealth (his net worth is currently estimated at $18.7 billion) to make his hometown of Los Altos, CA a cooler place to live.

Brin, through his Passarelle Investment company, has been buying up commercial property in the Silicon Valley town and renting it out to carefully chosen retailers, in many cases at below-market rates. That way, he can subsidize the sorts of mom-and-pop shops that he wants to have in his community.

So far, Brin has chosen outfits that cater to young parents, a demographic that, much like in DC, is growing in Silicon Valley. Thanks to Brin, a children’s bookstore, a cafe with a play area and a “playspace” have been able to take root in the town.

Can Billionaires Improve a City's Quality of Life?: Figure 2

Though we don’t have many dot-com billionaires shaping our city, DC residents are trying various strategies to influence the retail that goes up in their neighborhoods, from flooding desirable retailers with flash mobs to investing directly in these businesses. We’re eager to see how successful all these non-traditional models are.

See other articles related to: fundrise, retail

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/can_billionaires_improve_a_cities_quality_of_life/5998.

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