Austin's 3D-printed homes hit the market Tuesday morning—a development of four community-forward homes snuggly tucked in East Austin.
Created by Austin-based construction technology company ICON and Kansas City developer 3Strands, two of the homes in the community sold within a week a few months back. Now the other two homes, which went live Tuesday for $765,000, are complete and the companies expect they will go quickly.
Co-founder and CEO of developer 3Strand Gary O'Dell said they could have sold the homes, each with four bedrooms and four bathrooms, several months ago but held out so the public would get a chance to see the finished product. "If we sold them by real estate metrics, that's good, but to be able to tell the story about what ICON can do, I think is really important," O'Dell said. "We've had lots of people really interested in the project."
The first floor of the energy-efficient homes is made with a concrete-based material called "lavacrete," which is made to withstand fire, wind, floods and be longer lasting than traditional building materials. The second story is made traditionally, with metal siding and a metal roof.
The home's interior finishes were inspired by the Texas landscape and brought to life by Austin-based designer Claire Zinnecker with earthy tiles, natural woods and warm colors to juxtapose with the metal finishes.
All four homes are set facing inward with open porches and expansive windows on the houses, which Senior Project Manager for ICON Conner Jenkins told Austonia was intentional because it fosters community.
"It is a little more unique and it does lean into what it means to provide healthy communities—not just a place to live but a place to share life together," Jenkins said. "As our community trends toward maybe not wanting to do that, it's nice to live in a community that maybe forces that because you almost never regret becoming friends with your neighbors."
A major part of ICON's mission is to alleviate some of the housing pressure Austin is facing in its red hot housing market, Jenkins said. Each of the units was printed in about a week's time from slab to the top of the wall, which replaces a few construction steps and makes ICON homes lightning fast to build.
Managing Austin's housing shortage is no easy task with no easy solution, but Jenkins said ICON is ready to throw itself into the ring. "For such a systemic issue, you need deeply ingrained, paradigm-shifting solutions, which is what we're working on," Jenkins said. "It's difficult, it takes a lot of effort, a lot of energy, a lot of innovation, and we're ready to tackle that."
ICON is not stopping at 3D printing homes—the company has already built homes in Mexico, is dabbling in space exploration with its Mars Dune Alpha and working with the Texas Military Department for 3D-printed training barracks. The company isn't ready to reveal where or when more 3D-printed homes are coming to Austin and the rest of the U.S.
"We have a lot of exciting projects ongoing," Jenkins said. "We feel a connection with Austin so we're doing a lot of things here. We have and are currently building in other cities and we don't plan on slowing that down anytime soon."
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East Austin restaurant la Barbecue has been robbed a third time in less than three months, according to a post on the restaurant's Instagram.
In the post, the restaurant included photos of what appeared to be a man exiting a minivan from surveillance footage.
"This guy pulled up in a car full of stuff… he ripped our gate open and stole a couple empty kegs," the post said. "The ring system scared him off so he did not venture back into the area. PLEASE EVERYONE ON THE EAST SIDE BE CAREFUL!!! This guy goes back into his car to grab something before he goes in. I am hoping he won’t be back!!"
The robbery comes as many restaurant and food truck owners have been on guard from recent break-ins. East Austin cheesesteak truck R&B's Steak and Fries has also been robbed three times in around three months, according to owner Kris Elliott. Elliot said the truck was last robbed around a month and a half ago.
"When the weather gets cold, it seems like these things start to happen more often," Elliott said. "We're just happy no one got hurt."
Additionally, he said all 5 of the food trucks in their lot have experienced burglaries. The landlord of the space is taking action by investing in alarm and camera systems. "Been very tough dealing with this problem as us small business owners are just trying to survive during the pandemic," Elliott said.
And it's not just in East Austin. North Austin restaurants Eldorado Cafe and Chez Zee Bistro were both broken into and robbed on the weekend of Jan. 8, while over a dozen food truck robberies and break-ins were reported in the latter half of 2021.
Some, like Chez Zee's Deborah Velasco, wonder if the understaffed Austin Police Department's decision to no longer respond to non-emergency calls is part of the problem. Xose Velasco, owner of East Austin's Discada, said owners are keeping their guard up in the wake of the robberies as he was robbed twice within a month of reopening in November 2021.
"We try to keep the lights on," Velasco said. "We're a little bit more careful."
After 12 months, the long-anticipated massive Tesla factory in Southeast Travis County is up and operating and everyone wants a look inside.
Phase 1 of Giga Texas appears to be tied up as production of the Model Y Tesla is underway, the electric car company revealed on Wednesday in its fourth-quarter earnings call. The factory, located on the former Harold Green-turned Tesla Road, sits on more than 2,000 acres of land in southeast Travis County.
Here's a glimpse inside the factory.
Model Ys will be the first Teslas to come out of Giga Texas with an estimated delivery of August. The wait estimate comes after Tesla noted supply chain issues have affected their factories, which have been running below capacity for several quarters. A deep blue metallic like this goes for $1,000 more than a white or silver Model Y, totaling $61,990.
Model Ys began being produced at Giga Texas at the end of 2020. In general assembly at the factory, the Teslas get their major interior components to finish the vehicle.
Workers at Austin's Gigafactory are attaching seats to a structural battery pack. It's been described by some as the biggest difference between Texas-made Model Y's and the current version at the Fremont, California factory. It shouldn't have a major impact on the owner's experience, but Tesla has updated instructions for the jacking procedure, as the lift points are different.
With a sleek, open office setup, workers can take in a view of the factory from their seats. It's a component CEO Elon Musk wanted for what is now the headquarters of Tesla.
On the Austin, Texas public location Snapchat, a photo of inside Giga Texas has appeared. On the left you can see a sneak peek of a Model Y body.pic.twitter.com/N7zliZ5vkL— Sawyer Merritt (@Sawyer Merritt) 1643081462
With Snapchat's maps, anyone can look at everyday activity happening at the factory. To view these geographically-linked stories, click the bottom left "map" icon and search "Tesla Giga Texas." Once you've found it, you can view the Snapchat story of those in and around the facility. While most stories stay up for only 24 hours, Giga Texas is a designated place on Snapchat, allowing users to view a collection of photos and videos from the inside.
Following Model Ys, Texas-made Teslas will include the Cybertruck, Semi and Model 3. But it might be a while before those other models arrive. EV makers have been hit hard by the chip shortage, and it's thought that changing features are contributing to Cybertruck delays as Tesla works to compete in the electric pickup market.
Joe Rogan paid a visit to buddy Elon Musk this week. The two have been seen around town since both moving to Texas. Naturally, Rogan was impressed with the prototype.
If you're dying to get a closer look at this factory, you just might get to. In December, Musk said the factory would have tours available to the community early this year.
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