Elon Musk plans to build his own city in Texas
Elon Musk plans to build his own city on part of thousands of acres of newly acquired pasture and farmland outside the Texas capital, according to documents and insiders from people familiar with the project, reports The Wall Street Journal.
In meetings with landowners and real estate agents, Musk and his company employees described their vision as a kind of Texas utopia along the Colorado River where his employees could live and work.
According to people familiar with Elon Musk’s projects, executives at Boring, a company that builds tunnels, have discussed and explored the possibility of joining the city with Bastrop County, about 35 miles from Austin, which would allow it to establish some rules in its own municipality and speed up the implementation of its plans.
They say Mr. Musk and his top executives want his Austin-area employees, including workers at Boring, electric car maker Tesla, and space company SpaceX to be able to live in new homes with below-market rents.
The planned town is adjacent to the Boring and SpaceX facilities that are currently under construction. According to photos on Facebook and stories from people familiar with the town, the site already has a group of modular homes, a swimming pool, an outdoor sports court and a gym. Signs hanging from poles read, Signs hanging from poles read “welcome, snailbrook, tx, est. 2021.”
Snailbrook is a reference to Boring’s mascot. When Mr. Musk started the tunneling venture, he challenged employees to build boring machines that move “faster than a snail.”
Mr. Musk, his former girlfriend, who is the singer Grimes, Kanye West and Mr. West’s architectural designer discussed several times last year what a Musk town might look like, according to people familiar with the discussions. Those talks included broad ideas and some visual mock-ups, according to one of the people, but haven’t resulted in concrete plans.
Under Texas law, a city must have at least 201 residents before applying for incorporation and then receiving approval from a county judge. Bastrop County has not received an application from Mr. Musk or any of his companies, the spokesman said.
Chap Ambrose, a computer programmer who lives on a hilltop overlooking the new Boring and SpaceX facilities, said he believes “they want it to be secret. They want to do things before anyone knows really what’s happening.”
Mr. Ambrose is trying to get information from Boring and the county about the company’s research and testing of its tunnel boring machines and how that could affect groundwater and wells in the area.
He sent drones over the area to get information about other structures that Boring and SpaceX are building and what they plan to produce at their factories. Drone footage and YouTube videos he posted show construction of tunnels between the Boring and SpaceX sites that run under a public road.
In the past three years, entities linked to Musk’s companies or executives have purchased at least 1,400 acres of land in the Austin area, a total of about four times the size of New York’s Central Park, according to county deeds and other land records.
Some local real estate and land officials said people close to Musk told them the billionaire owns even more land in the area, as much as 2,400 hectares.
When Mr. Musk left his home in California more than two years ago, he said he grew impatient with the rules and regulations in the state, where Tesla and Boring were then headquartered before moving to Texas. California is the land of “overregulation, overlitigation, overtaxation,” he said in December 2021.
Texas has fewer zoning laws, environmental and labor requirements, and vast tracts of free-use land. Unlike California, there is no corporate income tax and no income or capital gains taxes for individuals.
Last month, Tesla said it was continuing to expand in California as well, naming the Palo Alto office as its engineering headquarters. Tesla’s corporate headquarters remains in Texas.
Land purchases in Texas were made through at least four limited liability companies. These firms are linked to Musk’s businesses or their principals in county deeds and land records, as well as in-state business registries where their names are listed.
According to people familiar with the situation, plans are underway to build a private residential complex for Musk, potentially some distance from the planned township. Musk was the main driver of these plans, and all land purchases must be approved by him.
The planned city will be located in Bastrop County. Gapped Bass LLC, whose president, according to state records, is Mr. Davis of Boring, now owns more than 80 acres there, acquired over the past two years. SpaceX purchased another 24 hectares. The land previously belonged to longtime ranchers and other Texas families.