Calling all Austin millennials—your fight with Austin's dog-eat-dog real estate market could be coming to a close as San Francisco-based tiny home manufacturer Villa, also known as Natomas Labs Inc., is expanding in Austin.
Drawn in by the city's growing need for affordable housing, Villa began its Austin expansion in July, as the first city the company is building in outside of California. The expansion is already underway—a vendor manager has been hired and the company said it is hiring for sales and other roles.
The company develops accessory dwelling units, which are small but independent residential dwellings on the same lot as a stand-alone home; they are small enough to fit in a backyard. The homes are made in local factories and installed onsite, which officials said help reduce cost.
Villa homes come in one, two and three-bedroom options from 440 to 1,200 square feet. Starting at $159,000 for one-bedroom, $239,000 for two and $289,000 for three, each figure factors in permits, foundation, utility setup and other costs.
Austin was chosen out of 100 total markets, with emphasis on population growth, home appreciation, income, zoning restrictions and housing demand. The company has seen a "profound" need in California—the units have a variety of uses: a home for relatives, a replacement for a retirement home or dorms, or a home office.
The company was searching for markets that need more lodging options—a strong need in a city like Austin, where the median rent is around $1,539.
Austin City Council relaxed regulations for ADUs back in 2015, reducing minimum lot sizes, removing parking requirements and capping unit size. Still, ADU's are not permitted in SF-2 zoned areas, which characterize single-family units.
The company expects the first units to be completed in Austin by next summer.
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Giga Texas, the massive Tesla factory in southeast Travis County is getting even bigger.
The company filed with the city of Austin this week to expand its headquarters with a new 500,000-square-foot building. The permit application notes “GA 2 and 3 expansion,” which indicates the company will make two general assembly lines in the building.
More details about the plans for the building are unclear. The gigafactory has been focused on Model Y production since it opened in April, but the company is also aiming for Cybertruck production to kick off in mid-2023.
While there is room for expansion on the 3.3 square miles of land Tesla has, this move comes after CEO Elon Musk’s recent comments about the state of the economy and its impact on Tesla.
In a May interview with Tesla Owners Silicon Valley, Musk said the gigafactories in Berlin and Austin are “gigantic money furnaces” and said Giga Texas had manufactured only a small number of cars.
And in June, Musk sent a company wide email saying Tesla will be reducing salaried headcount by 10%, then later tweeted salaried headcount should be fairly flat.
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The Austin woman suspected of killing star cyclist visiting from out of town, Moriah "Mo" Wilson, has now been captured after evading arrest for more than a month.
Kaitlin Marie Armstrong, an Austin yoga instructor, is believed by officials to be the killer of Wilson, who was found with gunshot wounds in a friend's house on May 11. The murder is being investigated as a crime of passion after Wilson met up with Armstrong's ex-boyfriend.
According to the U.S. Marshals, Armstrong was located at a hostel on Santa Teresa Beach in Provincia de Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Officials said she may have been using her sister's name after fleeing Austin on May 14, the day after police questioned her. She was last identified at Newark Liberty International Airport on May 18.
Federal authorities say they plan on returning Armstrong to the U.S., where she'll face charges of murder and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
Here's a timeline of events since the night of Wilson's murder.
- The night of her death, Wilson met with Armstrong’s ex-boyfriend Colin Strickland, a fellow pro cyclist. According to an affidavit, the pair went swimming, then to dinner, before he dropped Wilson off at her friend's home where she was staying in East Austin at around 8:30 p.m.
- While Wilson and Stickland had previously had a romantic relationship, Stickland said the two were friends. The affidavit says Strickland lied to Armstrong about his whereabouts that evening.
- Video footage shows Armstrong’s Jeep pulled up nearby the home within a minute of Wilson arriving home.
- At around 10 p.m., Wilson's friend called Austin police after finding her in a pool of blood. Wilson had been staying with the friend ahead of the upcoming bike race in nearby Hico, Texas.
- Armstrong was brought in for questioning the day after the murder and released after appearing “very still and guarded” when confronted with video evidence.
- The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force said her black Jeep Cherokee was sold to a South Austin CarMax dealership on May 13 for $12,200.
- She leaves from the Austin airport on May 14.
- Shell casings found on the scene matched a gun belonging to Armstrong.
- Austin police obtained an arrest warrant for Armstrong on May 17.
- She took a flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to San Jose, Costa Rica on May 18 using a fraudulent passport, according to the Marshals.
- On May 25, another warrant was obtained for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
- On June 29, she was captured by the U.S. Marshals