Austin Shed Dream In Works

Austin, Texas, is poised to become a multimedia hotspot with the announcement of a $1.5 billion development called Villa Muse that, among other planned features, includes a 70,000-capacity amphitheatre.

The Messina Group, an AEG company based in Houston, is reportedly in talks with Villa Muse to book and manage the shed, according to the Austin American-Statesman. TMG president Louis Messina was out of town and unavailable for comment at press time.

The Villa Muse complex will include eight soundstages, with one at 50,000 square feet expected to be the largest purpose-built stage in North America, according to an April 16th press conference.

The development will be anchored by the $125 million, 200-acre Villa Muse Studios that will be available for music, film, television, advertising and video game production.

Villa Muse will be located about 15 minutes east of downtown Austin. Zilker Park, host to the multistage Austin City Limits Music Festival and other events, is located near downtown, just southwest of the main hub of SXSW.

Developers hope to add residential and retail development to the 681-acre project. Plans call for residential streets to serve as "a living, breathing backlot" built in an array of styles to meet filming needs. It’s hoped that musicians and other entertainers will purchase homes in the development.

The first phase of Villa Muse is expected to be completed by the end of next year and is to include soundstages, a scoring stage, recording studios and the outdoor amphitheatre.

Texas lawmakers working to offer financial incentives to movie producers joined entertainment execs to announce Villa Muse. Texas Film Commission Director Bob Hudgins said if incentives are approved it will make Texas more competitive with other states, and pointed to the diversity of Texas locations as well as the number of denizens already working in the film industry and now Villa Muse as added incentives.

Villa Muse founder and CEO Jay Podolnick, a producer/engineer who founded Texas’ first 24-track recording facility in 1972 helping spearhead Austin’s famed music scene, was on hand for the project’s unveiling.

"Villa Muse will address the needs of our thriving creative industries in Texas, while attracting business that has been out of reach and forced to go elsewhere," he said in a statement.

"Meanwhile, Villa Muse will give Texas a centralized location where creative talent can come together to cross-pollinate and communicate in a uniquely innovative environment. And true to its name, it will be a place to live, work and be inspired."

Podolnick has a contract to purchase the site from Carpenter & Associates whose president, Jim Carpenter, is a project partner. The real estate developer will oversee construction of roads, streets, utilities and drainage services for Villa Muse.

Other key Villa Muse execs include chief technology officer Rupert Neve, who has received a lifetime achievement Grammy award for his work in audio equipment design; and senior VP of recording studio operations Bob Walters, creator of Power Station Studios in New York City.

Once completed, developers estimate Villa Muse could generate about 8,000 jobs and 8,500 new residents.

In the meantime, the Texas legislature is looking at funding between $10 million and $20 million in incentives for movie production, with a final figure expected to be known by the end of the lege’s session May 28th.