More construction tied to Elon Musk planned south of Tesla’s Austin-area factory

Elon Musk appears to be preparing to build across the Colorado River from Tesla Inc.’s Austin-area gigafactory.

Construction is planned to begin in June for an $11 million, 220,000-square-foot warehouse on land owned by Horse Ranch LLC, an entity tied to multibillionaire Musk, according to Feb. 23 filings with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. These kinds of filings are often preliminary and do not necessarily reflect the final costs or scope of work on new construction, though they do provide some insight into Musk’s plans in eastern Travis County.

Austin Business Journal first reported last year that Horse Ranch LLC purchased hundreds of acres near Tesla’s (Nasdaq: TSLA) $1.1 billion electric vehicle plant. Jared Birchall, who manages Musk’s family office and sits on the board of Musk’s philanthropic foundation, is listed as manager of Horse Ranch LLC on the property records and in filings with the Texas secretary of state’s office.

It remains unclear what the warehouse facility would be used for. But the construction filings and land purchases offer a glimpse of Musk’s ambitions for the area — he’s amassed more than 2,500 acres on the other side of the river — as his startup empire continues to grow roots in Central Texas.

Travis Central Appraisal District records indicate that Horse Ranch LLC owns roughly 530 acres across the river from the Tesla factory. However, property records filed last year with Travis County indicate that Horse Ranch LLC purchased up to 620 acres from William McMorris Jr. and his wife, Susan, and Barbara Gill, on behalf of the estate of Robert Gill Jr.

Map: The 2,500-plus acres owned by Colorado River Project LLC are shown in gray while the land purchases by Horse Ranch LLC found in public documents are in blue.

The McMorris family operates a horse riding facility called Rio Vista Farm at 1000 Fallwell Lane in Del Valle, which was also the address given for the new construction in the TDLR filings. The McMorrises did not immediately return requests for comment.

David Carson, of Austin-based architecture firm TAG International LLP, also appears to be working on the warehouse project, according to the filings. Carson could not be immediately reached for comment.

Birchall, who relocated to Austin last year, also could not be immediately reached for comment. Last year, TechCrunch reported that Birchall was CEO of Neuralink, which could be planning a facility in the region. The company, founded by Musk and working on brain implants, was hiring for 19 positions in Austin by publication time, according to its website.

Tesla officials have been revealing clues about more projects on the electric vehicle manufacturing campus. The Austin-based company has plans for a project “Cathode,” which will be a facility used to produce cathodes, which go into batteries.

Batteries are among the most critical components in EV production. Most batteries are currently made overseas, though automakers are investing large sums to bring more manufacturing capabilities to the United States. Producing its own batteries is rather new for Tesla, and analysts have said the move could significantly reduce Tesla’s car production costs and vertically integrate the company. Tesla has long bought its batteries from Panasonic.

Last April, the company also filed documents related to a “Project Bobcat,” but that remains a mystery.

Tesla’s share price closed Feb. 23 at $764.04, down 16% over five days, giving it a market capitalization of about $789 billion.

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