Elon Musk has been accused of sacrificing transparency for speed in his attempts to build a “Texas utopia along the Colorado River,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The billionaire has been snapping up thousands of acres of land in Bastrop County, Texas, a development that has drawn the ire of many locals.
The modern-day company town is growing with minimal input from locals, and Musk wants even less, according to the report, which cites land records and other paperwork associated with the project this week.
Called Snailbrook and located 35 miles (56km) outside the capital city of Austin, Musk’s privatized paradise will sit next to the Texas facilities currently under construction for his space exploration company SpaceX and his tunneling concern Boring Co., housing employees from both companies. The plot is also intended to house workers from Tesla, whose Texas Gigafactory is also nearby.
Boring Co. executives want to incorporate Snailbrook in order to clear any regulatory hurdles, which would allow Musk to construct new homes and rent them at a fraction of the market rate exclusively to tenants working for any of his Austin-area companies, insider sources told the WSJ. Employees who leave or are fired will have 30 days to move out and will have to then contend with average rates in the area, which are nearly three times higher.
While Snailbrook currently boasts a group of modular homes, a gym, outdoor sports area, and pool, a Musk-controlled holding company has already filed paperwork to build 110 more houses. Boring Co. management is allegedly thinking much bigger, along the lines of an entire city, which would require electing a mayor, text messages seen by the WSJ confirm.
However, Bastrop County hasn’t even received an application for incorporation from Musk or his companies, a county spokeswoman told the WSJ. A town needs at least 201 residents to incorporate.
While local land records seen by the WSJ showed that Musk and his proxies have snapped up more than 3,500 acres near Austin in the last three years, some officials claimed the real number is as high as 6,000 acres. The billionaire reportedly plans to build a separate private compound at some distance from employee housing for his personal use.
The speed of the transformation – the once-sleepy county sprouting giant tunnels and huge warehouses seemingly overnight – has spooked some locals and triggered calls for increased transparency, something Musk left California to avoid.
The Tesla tycoon moved the electric car firm’s headquarters to Texas in late 2021, leaving behind the “overregulation, overlitigation, and overtaxation” of California.