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High-tech ghost town planned for New Mexico

Company plans to build a model city to test future tech like renewable energy, next-gen Wi-Fi, smart grids, and traffic systems. The 20-square-mile project will be home to thousands of invisible inhabitants.

New Mexico's uninhabited desert could soon be home to an uninhabited city. Johanna DeBiase

Families and retirees come to New Mexico to chill in the sun; aliens come to crash-land their ships; scientologists come to build secret compounds and prepare to visit the aliens; the government comes to hide the crashed alien ships and blow stuff up; and studios come to make movies about all of the above. Now, a private company is coming to build a 20-square-mile ghost town of the future.

D.C.-based Pegasus Global Holdings is planning to build the model city to test new and up-and-coming technologies such as smart grids, renewable energy, intelligent traffic systems and next generation Wi-Fi. The company says the huge facility, dubbed "The Center," would likely be located somewhere near the Albuquerque or Las Cruces metro areas, giving the company access to multiple Interstate corridors, nearby national labs, universities, and military installations.

"The idea for The Center was born out of our own company's challenges in trying to test new and emerging technologies beyond the confines of a sterile lab environment," Robert H. Brumley, Pegasus Global's CEO said in a statement. "The Center will allow private companies, not for profits, educational institutions and government agencies to test in a unique facility with real world infrastructure, allowing them to better understand the cost and potential limitations of new technologies."

Pegasus says The Center will resemble a midsize American city with "urban canyons, suburban neighborhoods, rural communities, and distant localities."

The company has New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez in its corner. She has been promoting the job-creating potential of the project, which could bring nearly 4,000 direct and indirect new gigs. Pegasus is going to be working on a feasibility study for the rest of 2011 to determine the best location and other details, but it says New Mexico is the only place it's looking. In fact, the company may just be getting started in the Land of Enchantment.

Pegasus is also planning a commercial space launch facility in cooperation with the White Sands Missile Range, which lies just north of Las Cruces, and is one of the most beautiful places to be continually bombed. The area between Albuquerque and Las Cruces is also home to Spaceport America, which is being built in cooperation with Virgin Galactic and is nearing completion.

Pegasus says The Center will resemble a midsize American city with "urban canyons, suburban neighborhoods, rural communities, and distant localities." And, at least for now, the plan is that it will also be totally empty, adding a splash of apocalyptic creepiness to the overall Stepford motif.

My suggestion for Pegasus--let Cormac McCarthy, New Mexico author of blockbuster dark epics like "The Road," move in and really put the place to the test. If he can't uncover the grimy cracks in the sterile future town, you've got a winner.