With a rash of industrial development underway across the Central Texas area, efforts in the city of Hutto are largely centered on a single 1,400-acre swath of land near the city’s eastern edge known as the Megasite.

A development of the Megasite’s magnitude promises to have an impact on both Hutto and its neighbors. As the city prepares infrastructure at the site and seeks to recruit more developers, city leaders maintain the Megasite affords Hutto an opportunity to significantly bolster its tax revenue and improve its economic position.

Two projects are already confirmed for the Megasite, which is larger than the nearby Samsung site in Taylor by about 200 acres, but more than half of the site’s total space is still open for additional development.

The available space is owned partly by the Hutto Economic Development Corp. and partly by several different families who originally owned the land.

“This could easily double what we already have in terms of the tax base for Hutto,” Hutto Economic Development Director Bob Farley said. “That shifts some of the burden off residential ... and creates more opportunities to take that money and reinvest in areas like parks.”

Confirmed megaprojects

2022 saw the announcements of the first two projects coming to the Megasite: an industrial park developed by Titan Development and a data center campus jointly developed by Skybox Datacenters and Prologis Inc.

The 188-acre Titan industrial park, called Hutto Mega TechCenter, will feature industrial buildings used for storage, distribution and manufacturing. The park’s buildings will be custom made to suit the needs of specific companies.

Titan Senior Vice President Joe Iannacone said the Hutto Mega TechCenter will allow Titan to cater to companies that need larger spaces than those available in Innovation Business Park.

“We’ll probably start out with our 200,000- to 300,000-square-foot range, but we’ll also be submitting build-to-suit opportunities for users out to a million [square feet] plus,” Iannacone said.

With Samsung’s $17 billion semiconductor manufacturing plant on the way in Taylor, just 4 miles from the Megasite, Iannacone said he expects to see plenty of interest in the park from businesses peripheral to semiconductor manufacturing.

“The big attraction we’ve got going on over there is ... how close it is over to Samsung,” Iannacone said. “I would say that the preliminary [requests for proposal] that we’ve been going through there are more geared toward manufacturers and semiconductor-related-type users.”

Skybox and Prologis’ 220-acre data center campus will consist of as many as eight data centers similar to Titan’s industrial buildings.

Farley said possible clients for the data centers could include large tech companies, such as Meta or Google, as well as more regional companies with substantial data operations.

While the number of employees required at a data center is relatively low—Farley estimates 30 to 40 per center—he said the project’s benefit to the city will come mainly in the form of tax revenue.

Farley estimated Skybox and Prologis’ investment could total up to $3 billion if they build all eight of the planned data centers.

“It’s very investment intense, which is great for the community, because it creates lots of ad valorem tax, and it’s not generally a huge consumer of water and wastewater,” Farley said.

On top of that, Hutto City Council approved in November the creation of a TIRZ, or tax increment reinvestment zone, at the Megasite. City data shows the TIRZ could bring an additional $78 million in new tax revenue by 2047.

Potential large projects

With around 1,000 acres of land still available in the Megasite, the city is actively negotiating with different developers to bring additional projects to the site.

Farley said the proximity of developments, such as Samsung and the Tesla Gigafactory east of Austin, means much of the interest in the Megasite is coming from companies that will support those large single-user developments.

The city cannot yet disclose the names of any companies it is negotiating with, but expects to be able to announce some additional projects in early 2023, he said.

While industrial development remains the primary focus for the site, Farley said the city is also weighing some additional uses, such as hotels, conference centers and restaurants to support workers in and near the Megasite.

“There are thousands of workers just 4 miles from here at the Samsung plant, [and] there’ll be quite a few on this site at the appropriate time, so getting some of that type of corporate support out there will be kind of an integral part of building out the site,” Farley said.

The city has several road and utility projects incoming to support development at the Megasite; Farley said the site consisting of several smaller developments instead of one or two massive ones will make keeping up with infrastructure needs much easier.

“That is one of the advantages of a distributed set of users as opposed to one major facility that shows up and needs everything instantaneously—this gives you a little bit more phasing,” Farley said.

Ripple effects

Hutto officials have said the development-driven growth could have a positive impact on existing businesses in the area. One example is Chevrolet Covert Country of Hutto, a car dealership located directly across Hwy. 79 from the Megasite.

Kelly Lemmons, internet marketing director for the dealership, said he expects all of the incoming development to bring a wealth of new business to Covert.

“I think we’re going to sell more cars—I think it’s going to be an amazing thing,” Lemmons said.

Additionally, the influx of development coming to Hutto is anticipated to have effects that reach within and well beyond the city’s borders.

Amy Madison, executive director of the Pflugerville Community Development Corp., said Pflugerville is preparing for several challenges and opportunities stemming from neighboring development that includes the Megasite.

Madison said there will be increased difficulty obtaining materials for Pflugerville’s own development.

“We’ve got over a million square feet going up—compare that to 3.8 million or 4 million down the street,” Madison said in reference to the Megasite.

One way the city is preparing to deal with possible supply shortages, Madison said, is to recruit primary suppliers and vendors to develop in the city. She said Pflugerville’s proximity to the Megasite and other large projects along the SH 130 corridor makes the city an attractive location for such companies.

“That’s a really great way for us to grow our local industry base,” Madison said. “They’re not [megaprojects], so they won’t have the mega impact, but they do have great economic benefit, and they will grow and expand as those megaprojects do.”

Madison said the city of Pflugerville must also consider maintaining a trained workforce and general competition for land.

As Hutto and its neighbors work to manage the area’s rapid growth, Farley said handling the Megasite well will be critical to the long-term health of Hutto.

“This is sort of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Farley said. “As an economic developer, you kind of pinch yourself when you see these kinds of things happen because it just doesn’t happen all that often. From our perspective, we’re just glad to be part of it.”