Elon Musk has plans to build his own ‘utopia town’ for workers close to his SpaceX and Boring sites where he can regulate his own projects outside Austin.
Top brass at Boring Co., Musk’s tunneling operation, have discussed how to incorporate their own town called Snailbrook in Bastrop County, around 35 miles outside the Texas capital.
Not only could Musk provide cheap housing for his employees – $800 per month for a three-bedroom house – but it would allow the magnate to set regulations and help grease the wheels for his ambitious building projects.
His Austin area employees, which include staff at Boring, electric-car maker Tesla and his space exploration firm, SpaceX, would ideally all live in the brand new homes nestled in thousands of acres of farmland beside the Colorado River.
Musk, his ex-girlfriend Grimes, Kanye West and the rapper’s architect held multiple discussions over the last year about the design of the town, sources told The Wall Street Journal.
Elon Musk has plans to build his own ‘utopia town’ for workers close to his SpaceX and Boring sites where he can regulate his own projects outside Austin
A map of the construction project Musk is said to be planning for his workers in Austin. Documents filed in the Bastrop County Commissioners Court show plans for 110 more homes to be built
The site of Musk’s company developments in Bastrop County in 2021
The talks were broad-brushed and involved some mock-ups but have not yet resulted in finalized plans, one person familiar with the discussions told the paper.
Bastrop County has not yet received any application by Musk to incorporate the town. This would require at least 201 residents and approval from a county judge.
Musk opened his new Tesla factory dubbed Giga Texas in April last year. The sprawling plant spread across 2,500 acres of Travis County outside Austin is billed as the manufacturing hub for the Model Y and the future home of the Cybertruck.
In neighboring Bastrop County, his tunneling firm Boring is building a new warehouse, while SpaceX is building a 12-acre facility. The proposed Snailbrook ‘utopia’ for his employees is just a half-mile up the road.
Snailbrook takes its name from Boring’s mascot, a snail named Gary – a reference to the SpongeBob cartoon character of the same name.
Photos uploaded to Facebook by locals show signs hanging which say, ‘Welcome. Snailbrook, TX, est. 2021.’
The site already includes a number of trailer homes, a pool, an outdoor recreation area and a gym.
A general view of the Tesla factory in Austin, Texas
The average monthly rent in Bastrop County is around $2,200 but Musk wants to offer his employees the chance to live there for just a fraction of that price.
Local farmers have expressed concern about how the vast plans would affect the land, particularly with regards to Boring’s tunneling operation which may impact aquifers which supply the region’s wells.
Boring, founded in 2016, has ongoing and proposed projects designed for intra-city ‘loop’ transit systems to provide all-electric, zero-emission, high-speed underground public transport.
The only operational tunnel is a 1.7-mile stretch across the Las Vegas convention center which transports attendees on limited days during events using Tesla cars.
Boring recently made an application to pump up to 140,000 gallons of industrial wastewater a day into the Colorado River.
David Barrow, who runs Eden Barrow East Farm on Bastrop’s North Main Street, told the Journal: ‘I would like to know what is actually being sprayed, what they’re actually building, and who is going to hold them accountable.
He said there had been ‘no transparency.’
Over the last three years, legal entities linked to Musk or his companies have bought up some 3,500 acres of land in the Austin area, records show.
Cars are seen on the assembly line during a tour of the Tesla Giga Texas manufacturing facility ahead of the ‘Cyber Rodeo’ grand opening party on April 7, 2022 in Austin, Texas
Local officials told the Journal that they have heard the billionaire actually owns north of 6,000 acres in the region – more than seven times the size of Central Park in New York.
Musk quit Silicon Valley two years ago after losing patience with California’s tight regulations, including planning permission and tax laws.
He called his former home the land of ‘overregulation, overlitigation, overtaxation,’ in December 2021.
Unlike California, Texas has fewer zoning laws, environmental and labor requirements, and has thousands of acres of loosely regulated farmland.
The Lone Star state also has no corporate income tax or income or capital gains levies on individuals.
The purchases of land in Texas have been made by at least four limited liability companies tied to Musk’s businesses or executives, filings show.
They include plans for a private residence for Musk located away from the main site for his workers, sources told the Journal.
Musk has personally approved each land acquisition, those familiar with the operation said.
Chap Ambrose, a computer programmer who lives on a hilltop overlooking the new Boring and SpaceX facilities, told the Journal ‘they want it to be secret. They want to do things before anyone knows really what’s happening.’
Musk has previously floated the idea of providing affordable housing for his employees in purpose built communities.
In 2018, during a public panel alongside then-Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, the tycoon said he would like to build housing for Tesla workers beside its huge site outside Reno.
Two years later, he tweeted about building ‘the city of Starbase’ in Boca Chica Village, Texas, where SpaceX does work on the Gulf of Mexico.
Musk has said he lives in a $50,000 house in Boca Chica that he rents from SpaceX.
However, reports say his primary residence is actually a friend’s mansion in Austin.