Elon Musk is planning on building a “utopia” in Texas, a whole new town on thousands of acres of farmland recently bought outside the state capital of Austin.
Deeds and land records show the extent of the project and the billionaire and Twitter owner has attended meetings with land owners and real estate agents in which he and his staff have outlined his ideas for the project that The Wall Street Journal calls “a sort of Texas utopia along the Colorado River” where staff could both live and work.
Top executives at the Boring Company, the Tesla CEO’s tunnelling firm, have looked into placing the town in Bastrop County 35 miles from Austin, allowing Mr Musk to regulate some issues in a municipality of his own and speed up the projects.
People familiar with the project have told The Journal that Mr Musk and his executives want his staff in the area around Austin, including employees at the Boring Company, SpaceX, and Tesla, to be able to live in new homes for rents below market value.
A number of modular homes are already in place, as is a pool, an outdoor sports facility, and a gym, according to Facebook posts and people familiar with the area.
There are signs stating, “welcome, snailbrook, tx, est. 2021”. The name Snailbrook references the mascot for the Boring Company – Gary the Snail.
‘Project Amazing’ - Bastrop County Commissioners Court documents filed in January show that there are plans to build 110 homes near Snailbrook. Texas law states that a town needs at minimum 201 residents and approval from a county judge before it can be incorporated. Gapped Bass LLC has filed documents to build 110 further homes in the planned town, calling it “Project Amazing”.
Adam Pashian, the Boring Company Corporate Controller, is listed in online records as a registered agent for Gapped Bass. Documents filed with the office of the Texas Secretary of State also show that Gapped Bass has the same address as the Boring Company location in Pflugerville and Boring Company President Steve Davis is listed as a manager, the Austin American-Statesman reported in July 2021 after Gapped Bass bought 73 acres of land in Bastrop County in May of that year.
Officials have approved a number of street names, such as “Boring Boulevard,” “Waterjet Way,” “Cutterhead Crossing,” and “Porpoise Place,” county documents show.
Bastrop County commissioner Mel Hamner said at a meeting earlier this year that the house builder Lennar, a Florida company, was working with the Boring Company on the project, according to the real estate news site The Real Deal. In January, Mr Hamner told KXAN he believes the homes will be offered up under a lease-to-buy setup. Bastrop realtor Jacki Short told KXAN that “you are on the west side of Bastrop, the east side of Austin. So it is very easy for people to commute”. “Really all of the Bastrop areas is a pretty busy area,” she added.
They want it to be secret - Computer programmer Chap Ambrose’s home overlooks the new Boring Company and SpaceX sites. He told The Journal that he thinks “they want it to be secret. They want to do things before anyone knows really what’s happening”. County deeds and land records show that entities linked to Mr Musk have bought 3,500 acres of land in the area around Austin over the course of the last three years.
Musk owns 6,000 acres of land, report says Real estate and land officials told the paper that they’ve been made aware by people close to the billionaire that he owns as much as 6,000 acres, according to The Journal. Mr Musk left California more than two years ago. He complained that it was a place of “overregulation, overlitigation,” and “over-taxation” in late 2021 on a podcast with the satire site The Babylon Bee.
In Texas, there are fewer zoning laws, and lower requirements on environmental and labour issues, and it also has large areas of land which are lightly regulated. The state also has no corporate income tax and no individual taxes on income or capital gains.
The Texas plans include a private compound for Mr Musk that may be built away from the town. People familiar with the plans said all land purchases have been personally approved by the billionaire. Many of the sellers have had to sign nondisclosure agreements.
Local officials have also said that they had to sign similar agreements when they were made aware that the Boring Company was coming to the area. Boring has applied to environmental authorities on the state level to discharge 142,500 gallons of treated wastewater into the Colorado River every day
‘What he wanted from the city was speed’ - Steve Adler, a Democrat, served as the mayor of Austin from 2015 until earlier this year. When visiting him in 2020, Mr Musk asked for assurances that bureaucracy wouldn’t be a problem for his projects. “What he wanted from the city was speed,” the ex-mayor told the journals. Not long after, construction began on Giga Texas – a Tesla manufacturing plant – covering around 2,500 acres in Travis County, which borders Bastrop County.
County officials ‘regularly hounded’ by Musk staff - Robert Pugh, who previously served as the director of engineering in Bastrop County, complained to county planning commissioner Clara Beckett that employees had been “regularly hounded” by staff and contractors for Boring and Starlink, which is part of SpaceX. Mr Pugh wrote last June that they wanted the county to “expedite and approve permit applications that are incomplete and not in compliance” with regulations. He left his job that month. Boring Company staff could begin applying last year for homes with rents as low as $800 for two and three bedrooms, and if a staffer is fired or leaves, they would have to move within 30 days, the paper reported. Real estate site Zillow states that the average rent in Bastrop County is around $2,295 a month.
‘They’re in a hurry’ - The director of tourism and economic development at the county, Adena Lewis, told that “they’re very respectful of us,” but she added that “they’re in a hurry”.