In 1836, Augustus Allen, half of Houston’s founding duo, purchased 6,600 acres to establish what has grown into America’s fourth-largest city. In the 1970s, George Mitchell, father of the shale gas industry, turned 17,000 acres north of Houston into The Woodlands Township. Now, Elon Musk plans to build Texas’s next boomtown on 6,000 acres located within the state’s growing megaregion, the Texas Triangle.

Bastrop, where Musk is building, is located about an hour outside of Austin, in one of the nation’s fastest-growing areas. The region includes Georgetown, Kyle, and Leander, the first-, third-, and fourth-fastest growing cities by percentage in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau, with Georgetown topping the list in 2016 and 2022. All are within the Texas Triangle, which connects the state’s four main urban centers: Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio.

George W. Bush Institute director Cullum Clark notes that much of the Triangle’s success owes to its containing the leading non-coastal tech center (Austin); the world’s largest medical complex (Texas Medical Center); one of the nation’s largest ports and a dominant center for both the energy and space industries (Houston); and a leading transportation and business service center (Dallas).

News about Musk’s plans to build a town called Snailbrook in the region broke last year after deeds and other land records were filed indicating that he and related entities had purchased possibly as much as 6,000 acres in Bastrop County. When the story broke, Musk simply replied, “This article is false” on X, but since then a Boring Company-owned business hub called “Hyperloop Plaza” has opened, which contains a store called “Boring Bodega,” a salon called “His & Her,” and, soon, a pub called the “Prufrock Pub.” (Prufrock is also the name of the machine The Boring Company uses to reduce the time it takes to construct mega-infrastructure projects.)

The area already has a number of trailer homes, a community pool, and a recreational outdoor gym. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, advertisements note that Boring employees can rent two- or three-bedroom homes starting at $800, more affordable than the area’s average rent of $1,400. Plans were also afoot to build 110 more homes and convert one into a Montessori school.

The creation of communities like Snailbrook has a long history in Texas and has played a role in the state’s success. In 1961, when the federal government chose the Houston area as the location for the Johnson Space Center, the Del E. Webb Corporation and Humble Oil (now ExxonMobil) created a residential master-planned community to prepare for the influx of employees. The two firms announced plans to start developing the initial 15,000 acres in Clear Lake. A 1965 brochure for the town advertised homes starting at $16,000. By 1968, Clear Lake had a population nearing 4,000, which grew to 8,000 by 1970 and 16,000 by 1974, with a heavy concentration of engineers for both NASA and the area’s petrochemical complex. Now annexed to the City of Houston, Clear Lake is the city’s second-largest master-planned community.

In the 1970s, when George Mitchell dreamed up The Woodlands, he envisioned a bedroom community nestled in the woods just north of Houston, with 1.5 jobs per household. Today, celebrating its 50-year anniversary, the city boasts a population nearing 120,000, 34 schools, 2,100 businesses, more than 60,000 jobs, and a number of Fortune 500 companies (Exxon’s headquarters are located in Spring, which borders The Woodlands). It’s also consistently ranked as one of the best places to live.

Between 2010 and 2020, the combined population of the Texas Triangle grew 21.7 percent, reaching 19.7 million people. The Texas Demographic Center projects that the population will hit 40.7 million by 2040. Much of the growth is happening, and is expected to continue, in the area between Austin and San Antonio, where Musk’s land sits. Just as NASA and Clear Lake, or Houston and The Woodlands, operated as ecosystems with an economic engine and plentiful housing options, Musk and Snailbrook have the opportunity to do the same and contribute to the region’s tremendous growth.

Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images


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