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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Hill Country Studios to break ground this year

Meagan Walters

Hill Country Studios will be starting construction in the fourth quarter of 2023, bringing dividing viewpoints to the residents of San Marcos.

Hill Country Studios resides on a 209 acre plot in the entrance of the La Cima neighborhood. It will consist of 12 sound stages and other amenities, including food and a recycling center. The first sound stage is expected to open next year.

“‘We’re still targeting breaking ground and starting construction [by December] 2023…” Jacob Cowan, chief marketing officer for Hill Country Studios, said. “As far as opening availability, facilities will be available as they come online… so we’re looking to add availability starting in 2024.”

The studio is expected to be the biggest in Texas and one of the biggest in the country behind Hollywood.

“In the state of Texas, this will be one of if not the largest facilities of its kind here, it’s on scale for what you might see in something like Georgia in any of the surrounding Atlanta studios,” Cowan said.

According to Cowan, while the film studio is being built in a neighborhood, the construction should not disturb the residents. 

“We fall well within any noise or light ordinances within the city… all of our construction will be well offset from any right of way. It’s not like we’re building up on the sidewalk or in the community,” Cowan said.

While the studio’s construction is not expected to disturb the community, some residents of San Marcos fear the effects of the studio once it’s built. 

Brittiny Moore, an environmental educator and hydrogeologist, fears that since the studio will be partially built over the recharge zone of Edwards Aquifer, there could be large environmental impacts.

“It’s really concerning to me that we’re starting to normalize development on our aquifer’s recharge zone, especially when we consider the fact that we’re currently in a Stage 4 drought and we’re experiencing water shortages really across the state,” Moore said. “It’s something that we really need to start thinking about and be intentional about.”

The recharge zone is the most permeable area of Edwards Aquifer, meaning where water infiltrates into the aquifer. When the recharge zone is built over, there is less space for rain water to enter the aquifer.

The recharge zone being built over can have effects on soil distribution and groundwater levels. One of the most unpredictable effects is the increased chance of severe flooding. 

“The more recharge zone that we destroy, the more severe flooding we’re going to see,” Moore said. “When water doesn’t have enough space to get underground or soak into the soil, then it has to stay at the surface and it’s going to rush off into downstream neighborhoods causing massive flooding events.”

The studio will have a greenspace, an area of untouched land, kept in the surrounding area but according to Moore, this may not be enough as the recharge zone will still be partially covered. Cowan said the area was always meant to have commercial use, meaning it was going to be built over one way or another. 

Some residents are also nervous about the impact of the studio on the housing market. 

According to Cowan, the studio will bring in many different jobs to the area. With job growth comes a higher demand for housing, which according to Robert Eby, a San Marcos resident, might not be able to be supported. 

“Everyone’s talking about high housing prices, so it’s a nationwide trend but it’s worse here in Central Texas because of the growth… which means people are moving here and have to live somewhere,” Eby said. “People who are already here can’t afford the housing and more people are moving everyday, adding pressure to the [housing] market and thousands of jobs could add a burden to the housing market.”

Because San Marcos hosts Texas State, many new developments coming to the area are student living quarters, which could exacerbate the issue of new studio employees increasing pressure on the housing market. 

“The day-to-day workers, where they’re going to live, that’s my biggest worry,” Eby said. “We’re a college town that caters to a lot of college students. Most of the apartments going up are for college students… which wouldn’t help the movie studio employee.”

Thomas Ingle, a San Marcos resident, believes that the new jobs will actually have a positive impact on the economy as the studio can possibly give more patrons to small businesses in the area. 

“I think it can be a great addition to San Marcos. We’ve never really had anything this magnitude or size, especially for the film industry, which can bring lots of jobs for the city,” Ingle said. 

According to Cowan, the studio is already in talks with Texas State employees to possibly open the film studio to students and offer internships. 

“We want to partner with all the university systems or trade schools that we can in the area to make sure that the workforce is continually trained and built up and grown…” Cowan said. “With Texas State being just minutes away from our studio, there’s just a natural synergy between ourselves and Texas State that would not only benefit the industry but also the Texas State students.”

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