Unveiling WebberVilla Muse!
'Chronicle' acquires secret project plans for landfill-powered film studios
By the 'AC' Special Happenings Investigations Team
In an abrupt reversal of earlier announcements, the city of Austin, the village of Webberville, Travis County, and the developers of the Villa Muse project have secretly agreed to site the proposed $5.5 billion studio/music venue/residential complex on top of the city's proposed nearby Webberville landfill. The new studio complex/recycling depot will be called "VillaVille." "We always said that these two unrelated projects should be looked at together," said Webber-ville Mayor Hector Gonzales. "Now it will be impossible to see one without smelling the other."
The announcement of the new plan had been embargoed – not to be released to the public until Tuesday, April 1 – but the Special Happenings Investigations Team has acquired a confidential source within the project group and managed to acquire the news, the architects' renderings of the site plan, and project details. In a deal brokered by German director Uwe Boll's Boll KG production company, the Webberville Film Society & Lions' Club, and former City Manager Toby Futrell, in her first action as Austin's newly hired "special projects coordinator" (drawing some $365,000 annually), representatives of the city, county, landfill operators, and studio executives sat down and overcame their differences in what was immediately branded as a "creative and really, really green" compromise. In a press release, VillaVille community spokesperson Jennifer Gale said, "We wanted to keep Austin Austin, Webberville Webberville, and garbage garbage, and now we have managed to bring together the best of all possible worlds."
The agreement came about after Villa Muse had sought to have the proposed studio/horizontal condo/vertical mixed-use development (with residents serving as permanent volunteer movie extras) released from the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction. The City Council initially refused, but when the WebberVilla Muse Consortium offered to incorporate a revolutionary biomass energy generation and methane collection system to power the development – everything from the studios to VillaVille's estimated 22 Starbucks locations to its manure plant and nightly gala premiere searchlights – council members relented. In addition to releasing VillaVille from the ETJ, the city agreed to offset the expected tax income with federal carbon recapture allocation points. "It's a win-win situation," said Council Member Mike Martinez. "We'll be taking tax dollars off the top, and the Superfund will be paying to clean up the soil below." Added Martinez, "As far as we're concerned, this thing's all yours!" Studio proponent Brewster McCracken eagerly added: "In sectors across the country not buoyed by the digitally convergent creative class, the economy may be taking a dump. But in Webberville, we're building on one!"
"By placing the studio on top of a dump, this will ensure that property prices will not rise," said Villa Muse CEO Jay Podolnick. "While we're not getting all the tax exemptions we would have liked, at least appraisal values will stay static." Podolnick noted that possible damage to the condos due to subsidence could even lead to tax cuts for residents. "The movie moguls we want to attract from Hollywood are not paying taxes to Austin now," added Podolnick, "so why should they have to pay them when they move here?"
With the ingenious decision to allow construction directly on top of the waste, Villa Muse announced it would also dramatically expand the number of affordable housing units at the Las Colonias at VillaVille development. New tenants will also automatically become members of the Screen Actors Guild and receive auditions at any open casting calls. "We're hoping for our first daytime Emmy before our first foreclosure," said state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Pflugerville.
The complex already has scheduled its first confirmed movie project: a big-budget remake of 1985's The Toxic Avenger. In a press release, producer Michael Bay said that the combination of high-quality green-screen facilities and high volumes of fermenting waste was "a Hollywood synergy dream."
However, some residents of East Austin have pledged to oppose the development. "This landfill will be yet another instance of eastern Travis County being used as a dump, while the apartments are an obvious example of gentrification," said PODER board member Daniel Llanes. The group has pledged to Web-organize the studio extras into backlot flash-mobs until all of their demands are met. (As of press time, the city had not received any demands.)
Additionally, the yet-to-be-announced decision has unexpectedly had an effect on the current City Council races. Place 1 candidate and newly appointed Responsible Growth for VillaVille spokesperson Jason Meeker has threatened legal action against the city for proceeding with the project without first commissioning a traffic-impact study on VillaVille's farm-to-market road. Meeker is currently organizing a Rally Around the Refuse protest at the steaming dump-pile, asking protesters to surround the VillaVille site with steaming compost buckets. Meanwhile, members of the Better Austin Today PAC have already indicated their support of Meeker, vowing a "muck-in" at the dump to protest the "smoke-filled, back-room, insider deal we really, really, really shoulda been a part of."