The futuristic Quay Valley project halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles along Interstate 5 in the southern San Joaquin Valley is dead after the developer of the proposed new city told local officials he’s calling it quits.
Developer Quay Hays of Los Angeles sent a letter dated Dec. 6 to officials in Kings County stating he was withdrawing his application for a new community plan. He did not not give a reason.
Even by the standards of California developments, a brand new community of 22,000 homes on the Valley’s west side – where water supplies are notoriously uncertain – seemed like a stretch. No homes were ever built.
Likewise, the even more futuristic high-speed people-moving “hyperloop” tube system at the site is also dead. The proposed five-mile hyperloop – the concept has been advocated by Tesla car manufacturer Elon Musk as superior to high-speed rail – garnered headlines two years ago, but never got beyond an application to Kings County for a conditional use permit.
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Greg Gatzka, Kings County Community Development Agency director, said the county is returning about $62,000 to Hays as requested in the letter. The unspent funds are from the approximately $216,000 that GROW Holdings LLC, the name of Hays’ company, deposited to cover county staff time and consultants’ fees as the county processed the new city application.
Last year, Hays made a media splash touting Quay Valley as an environmentally friendly community of solar-powered homes in which residents may not even have an electricity bill, but “it came to a screeching halt” several months ago, Gatzka said.
It appears that Hays lacks the funds to continue, he said. Although Hays won a $73.4 million verdict against several players involved in water rights and land ownership related to the proposed development, an appeals court said the award was unfounded.
Hays could not be reached for comment.
Kings County Board of Supervisors Chairman Craig Pedersen said, “I give the guy credit, he had a vision. But the rubber meets the road where you have to have the financing and the buy-in to make it happen.”
“The water thing was always going to be a problem,” Pedersen said.
Last year, Hays said the water would come from the California Aqueduct and water re-use would be a major factor in the project, but the county never received details about water supply.
The county considers the project dead, Gatzka said. If Hays or another developer wanted to try again, they’d have to start over, he said.