NewsTalk Texas

Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos

Rockspring jumps to 28-acre Leander tract 


LEANDER - Rockspring Capital has purchased a 28-acre tract near Old FM 2243 and US 183.

The Houston-based land investment firm plans to take the land through the platting process and then sell it to a multifamily developer.

The land is currently zoned for apartments and retail uses.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

REOC Austin office 3Q 2014 

(11/22/2014 8:00:00 AM)

AUSTIN - Employment growth and an expanding economy continue to drive demand for office space, according to REOC Austin’s 3Q 2014 report.

According to the survey of nearly 42 million sf of Austin area office lease space, area properties experienced 337,467 sf of positive net absorption in 3Q 2014. The total gain was split between Class A properties, with 161,087 sf, and Class B properties, with 169,704 sf.

The Austin office market closed the quarter with a citywide vacancy rate of 9.0 percent, down compared to 9.7 percent in 2Q 2014 and 11.8 percent in 3Q 2013.

In all, the market has nearly 3 million sf of office space currently under construction. Roughly 725,000 sf is expected to come online in 4Q 2014 led by two downtown projects — IBC Bank Plaza (195,378 sf) and Seaholm Power Plant Building (113,063 sf).

The citywide average quoted rental rate climbed $0.72 to reach $26.06 per sf per year, up 2.8 percent from 3Q 2013.

Austin 3Q 2014 Office Report
Submarket Total
Vacant SF
Vacant Avg. Quoted
Rent Rate
CBD 8,355,282 668,708 8.0% $34.93
Central 2,246,769 216,659 9.6% $25.10
North 942,488 184,453 19.6% $19.17
Northwest 13,021,065 1,140,070 8.8% $26.80
Far Northwest 3,532,895 334,858 9.5% $24.37
Northeast 1,855,269 211,688 11.4% $16.40
South 1,688,035 88,707 5.3% $24.15
Southeast 915,462 119,054 13.0% $19.09
Southwest 8,463,665 674,998 8.0% $28.08
Round Rock 884,716 124,263 14.0% $20.11
Totals 41,905,646 3,763,458 9.0% $26.06

Source: REOC Austin

Click here to see the full 3Q report.

For more stats, look under Office in Austin Market Data Sources.

Austin's 99,000-SF Crossroads Shopping Center sold 


AUSTIN - The 98,918-sf Crossroads Shopping Center at 9070 and 9094 Research Blvd. has been sold.

Major tenants include Plucker's Wing Bar and Chili's Grill & Bar. Records at the Travis Central Appraisal District indicate a value of about $15.6 million for the shopping center.

Houston-based MWM Fund II Ltd. purchased the retail center from XRDS LP of Glendale, New York.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

ABoR: Austin area home sales Oct. 2014 

(11/21/2014 7:30:00 AM)

AUSTIN - The Austin Board of Realtors has released home sales facts for October 2014. Below is a snippet of cities that you might want to see. There's more at the link below!

• The median price of existing single-family homes remained at $239,000, the same seen in September 2014.
• Existing single-family home sales decreased -6.5 percent from September 2014, totaling 2,048 sold units.
• Condos increased in price to $215,500, up 7.2 percent from September 2014.
• Existing condo sales increased 14.5 percent from September 2014, totaling 245 sold units.

Select region cities are represented below along with statistics from the ABoR MLS area as a whole.

Austin Region Sales and Price Activity by Units Sold
MLS Wide Median Price
  Oct. 2014
Price Chg.
Oct. 2013
Units Sold
Oct. 2014 
Sale Chg.
Oct. 2013
ACTRIS* (single-family) $239,000 11.2% 2,048 10.5%
ACTRIS (condo) $215,500 19.7% 245 4.3%
Region Cities**        
Austin $300,250 10.8% 856 5.4%
Round Rock $214,032 9.8% 201 6.3%
Georgetown $265,000 20.7% 122 7.0%
Pflugerville $181,850 0.3% 116 20.8%
Cedar Park $243,500 8.7% 99 12.5%
Leander $189,000 1.9% 77 -9.4%
Kyle $166,500 11.1% 61 29.8%
Hutto    $171,000 17.9% 57 14.0%
Buda $229,000 10.1% 45 36.4%

*Austin/Central Texas Realty Information Service
**Data include single-family only and represent select region cities that sold at least 45 units during October 2014.

See Housing under Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos Market Data Sources or see the full report from the Austin Board of Realtors.

EZCorp rolling to 140,000 SF in Rollingwood 


ROLLINGWOOD - EZCorp Inc., the Austin-based pawnshop chain and payday lender, has signed a major lease at a new development under construction in Rollingwood.

EZCorp will occupy 140,000 sf at Rollingwood Center, currently being built by Endeavor Real Estate Group near the northwest corner of S. Mopac Expy. and Bee Cave Rd.

EZCorp. is consolidating six local offices and around 300 employees. The move-in is scheduled for fall 2015.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

Austin's Westin Hotel tops out; other brands break ground 


AUSTIN - Construction on the 366-room Westin Hotel on Congress Ave. has topped out. The hotel plans to welcome its first guests in summer 2015.

The 17-story hotel will have 14,500 sf of conference and meeting space, including a 4,500-sf ballroom.

The hotel activity in downtown Austin continues at a pace matched only by much larger metros such as New York City and Washington, D.C.

Westin’s developer, White Lodging, is also developing the 1,012-room JW Marriott down the street that is expected to open in February 2015.

The $370 million Fairmont Austin recently broke ground and is projected to deliver 1,066 rooms when it opens June 2017.

Hotel Zaza is under construction as well, and will add 160 rooms to the market when completed late 2016.

The Hotel Van Zandt is under construction on Rainey St., and a hybrid Hotel Indigo/Holiday Inn Express is under construction at E. 9th St. and Neches St.

Across town near Westlake, the Hotel Granduca is taking shape and recently was added to a special collection of luxury hotels.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

Round Rock Crossing tracking to 90,000 SF in 2015 

(11/20/2014 6:30:00 AM)

ROUND ROCK - The 460,000-sf Round Rock Crossing shopping center at I-35 and SH 45 is poised to add as much as 90,000 sf of space in 2015, according to the Weitzman Group.

The center is anchored by a Target store, with other retailers including Gander Mountain, Michaels, Best Buy, Stein Mart and Dollar Tree.

The shopping center is currently 98 percent occupied, according to Britt Morrison, a senior vice president at the Weitzman Group. Several prospective tenants are close to signing deals for space in the center’s next phase.

Construction is expected to start in early 2015.

“The third phase will be designed for a variety of anchor and junior anchor concepts, as well as specialty tenants,” Morrison said.

The center serves a trade area with about 222,000 people, including 80,000 households within a five-mile radius, according to the Weitzman Group.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

Five Austin towers ownership all shook up, uh-huh! 

(11/20/2014 6:28:00 AM)

AUSTIN - A partnership between Parkway Properties Inc. and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CSTRS) that owned several prominent downtown buildings has been dissolved, causing the ownership of those buildings to change.

Parkway Properties said it has acquired the CSTRS’s 60 percent stake in the 21-story San Jacinto Center at 98 San Jacinto Blvd., and the 30-story One Congress Plaza at 111 Congress Ave., and now owns both buildings outright.

Meanwhile, Parkway Properties transferred its 40 percent ownership stake in the 33-story Frost Bank Tower at 401 Congress Ave., the 32-story One American Center at 600 Congress Ave. and the 23-story 300 W. 6th St. to the CSTRS.

Parkway Properties said it also received $43.6 million from the CSTRS as part of the transaction.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

New record set! Leander issues over 1,000 home permits 


LEANDER - The City of Leander has issued more than 1,000 permits for new homes this year — setting a new record for the city — and the number is still climbing.

City staffers said by the end of 2014 the number of permits could exceed the city’s total permits issued from 2009–2012.

The demand is leaving staffers struggling to keep up and planning to reorganize the Leander Building Inspection Department.

From 2009–2011 the City of Leander issued builders 943 single-family housing permits.

In 2012, the city issued 418 permits, and in 2013 the city issued 666 permits. As of Oct. 31, the city’s issued permits in 2014 had reached 1,016.

The growth in single-family housing development is not in specific areas but throughout the city, such as in Northside Meadows northwest of Old FM 2243 and US 183, the Villas at Vista Ridge on Bagdad Rd. and Travisso on FM 1431, according to City Manager Kent Cagle.

Read more at Community Impact Newspaper.

145 Acres overlooking Lake Austin sold 


AUSTIN - Exxon Mobil Corp. has sold a 145-acre tract overlooking Lake Austin.

Exxon, which had owned the land for a quarter century, sold the land to Luna Heights LP, a partnership between Eduardo “Eddie” Margain and Austin-based Riverside Resources.

The land is appraised at $9.2 million by the Travis Central Appraisal District.

Located on a prominent ridge near Capital of Texas Hwy. and W. Courtyard Dr., the land is one of the last few undeveloped tracts along Lake Austin. Last year, real estate experts speculated that the property could sell for tens of millions of dollars.

Plans for the land “are being carefully considered,” according to Margain. Under zoning dating to the 1980s, it has approvals to develop 70 home sites.

In purchasing the property, Margain decided to align with Riverside Resources because of the firm’s extensive background in high-quality projects and its successful track record in Austin.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

San Marcos Springtown shopping center sold 


SAN MARCOS - Endeavor Real Estate Group has purchased the Springtown shopping center located at I-35 and Springtown Way.

The new owner is planning facade improvements and other upgrades, according to Adam Zimel, Endeavor’s director of real estate leasing.

Springtown has been largely vacant since its anchor tenants — Target, Best Buy, JCPenney and Bealls — left about five years ago, choosing to relocate to newer shopping centers nearby.

The departures left behind about 200,000 sf of empty space. The former Target store alone spans 103,000 sf.

Today, only a handful of small shops call Springtown home, including Bath and Body Works, Radio Shack, GNC and Twin Liquors. Endeavor hopes to quickly change that. Talks are underway with several prospective tenants, according to Zimel.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

What boomed in 3Q 2014? Austin office market 

(11/14/2014 9:00:00 AM)

AUSTIN - The Central Texas office market posted a strong showing in third quarter 2014, as the region’s job growth continued to drive demand for space, according to Cushman & Wakefield / Oxford Commerical.

Top-tier office space was 91 percent occupied for 3Q 2014, up from 88 percent in 3Q 2013, according to Austin-based Cushman & Wakefield / Oxford Commercial, which tracks the market. Rents for the top-tier space hit $32.95 in 3Q 2014, up 2.4 percent from 3Q 2013.

Austin employers added 32,100 jobs in the past four quarters, a year-over-year increase of 3.7 percent, according to Marcus & Millichap’s 3Q 2014 office market report. The metro’s thriving high-tech sector continues to drive demand for office space.

The downtown office market had one of its best quarters ever, according to Katie Ekstrom, a vice president in Austin with CBRE. Tenants leased more than 255,400 sf of net new space, Cushman & Wakefield / Oxford Commercial reported.

Two new downtown towers — Colorado Tower and IBC Bank Plaza, which combined will add more than 500,000 sf of office space — are both almost fully leased, local brokers say, and are setting the stage for additional new construction.

Austin is building new office space at one of the highest rates in the country, according to Marcus & Millichap. About 530,000 sf of space were completed during the last four quarters, including the first phase of Apple Inc.’s new campus in Northwest Austin.

In all, developers have nearly 2.6 million sf of space under construction in the Austin metro, 1.5 million of which is due to wrap up by the end of 2014. Another 2.4 million sf of space is in the planning pipeline.

Ekstrom said that tenant prospects are currently scouring the market for more than 4 million sf of space, and buildings under construction across the city are seeing strong leasing activity.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

For more stats and info on office and other sectors, check out Austin Market Data Sources.

Hotel Granduca Austin part of exclusive hoteliers 


AUSTIN - The Hotel Granduca Austin will be designated as a member of The Leading Hotels of the World organization. The only other hotel in Texas to receive that recognition is the original Hotel Granduca Houston.

The organization includes about 420 hotels in 80 countries and was established in 1928 by European hoteliers who were interested in creating an exclusive brand of high-end hotels and resorts.

The Hotel Granduca Austin is under construction near Westlake on the northwest corner of Capital of Texas Hwy. and Bee Cave Rd.

The Italian inspired hotel is the brainchild of Giorgio Borlenghi, founder of Interfin Cos. LP and a native of Milan, Italy. The 194-room hotel is scheduled to open fall 2015.

It will include the upscale Ristorante Visconti, which will feature Northern Italian cuisine.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

Two Austin office towers bringing almost 1M SF to downtown 


AUSTIN - Two office towers that will add almost 1 million sf to downtown Austin are set to begin construction in the coming months.

The 32-story office portion of Trammell Crow’s Block 23 Green Water Treatment Plant redevelopment project is expected to begin construction in April 2015, with completion scheduled for November 2016.

The apartment tower portion of the mixed-use project has been under construction for several months.

The $100 million project is on Cesar Chavez St. between San Antonio St. and Lamar St., in one of the most intensive development sites in the country. It is expected to add 492,333 sf of office and 6,806 sf of retail to the area.

Schlosser Development Corp. is also preparing to build a $52 million, two-building office project on a 2.7-acre site at 835 W. Sixth St. Shoal Creek Walk is expected to have 430,417 sf of office space and 44,427 sf for retail.

The Schlosser website indicates the project will include 17 floors of office — one building of 12 stories and one building of five stories — and ground level retail.

The push to develop more offices downtown probably has been encouraged and expedited by the success that Cousins Properties and IBC Bank encountered with the development of Colorado Tower and IBC Bank Plaza.

Although Colorado Tower isn't finished, it is more than 95 percent preleased. IBC Bank Plaza is largely completed and tenants are now having their spaces built out. It also is more than 95 percent leased.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

Hyatt buys Bastrops' Lost Pines Resort for $143M 

(11/12/2014 8:00:00 AM)

BASTROP - Hyatt Hotels Corp. has assumed full ownership of the 491-room Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa between Austin and Bastrop.

A Hyatt affiliate has acquired its partner's 92 percent interest in the property for approximately $143 million and assumed $65 million in property-level debt, bringing the total price to approximately $203 million, or roughly $450,000 per key.

The resort features more than 60,000 sf of indoor meeting space and over 240,000 sf of outdoor function space with pavilions and an amphitheater, as well as the Wolfdancer Golf Club, Spa Django, Crooked River Water Park and the Renegade Trailhead equestrian facility.

The resort, which opened in 2006, was developed by Woodbine Development Corp. of Dallas. Hyatt was one of the original co-owners and has managed the resort since its opening.

Read more at the San Antonio Business Journal and CoStar Group.

CoStar: Austin office market 3Q 2014 

(11/12/2014 7:43:00 AM)

AUSTIN - CoStar Group has released third quarter 2014 data for the Austin office market.

Six buildings totaling 102,912 sf were completed in 3Q 2014, less than the eight buildings totaling 342,617 sf that were completed in 2Q 2014.

There was 2,800,908 sf of office space under construction at the end of 3Q 2014.

Some of the notable 2014 deliveries include:

  • Domain 2, a 143,331-sf facility that delivered 2Q 2014 and is now 80 percent occupied; and
  • Apple Campus — Phase I #1, an 88,000-sf building that delivered 1Q 2014 and is now 100 percent occupied.

The largest projects underway at the end of 3Q 2014:

  • Colorado Tower, a 371,348-sf building with 95 percent of its space preleased; and
  • 3700 San Clemente, a 249,870-sf facility that is 38 percent preleased.

Total office inventory in the Austin market area amounted to 88,360,935 sf in 4,301 buildings as of the end of 3Q 2014.

This trend is compared to U.S. National Office deliveries and construction, which saw 233 buildings totaling 13.2 million sf complete construction, with an additional 108.2 million sf of office space still under construction at the end of 3Q 2014.

Read more at CoStar Group.

Austin Monterey Ranch's 1,072 units sold 


AUSTIN - The 1,072-unit Monterey Ranch, located at 4701 Staggerbrush Rd. in Southwest Austin, has been purchased by Northland Investment Corp.

The Travis Central Appraisal District values the property, which includes 54 buildings on 32 acres, at $47.6 million. It was built in stages between 1995 and 1999.

The seller of the property was IMT Residential of Sherman Oaks, California, which owned the asset since September 2009

Northland now owns 18 communities in the Austin market, including two others in the southwest submarket: Sedona Springs at 4201 Monterey Oaks Blvd. and River Stone at 5701 S. Mopac Expy.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

CoStar: Austin retail market 3Q 2014 

(11/10/2014 10:00:00 AM)

AUSTIN - The Austin retail market did not experience much change in market conditions in third quarter 2014, according to CoStar Group.

The vacancy rate was unchanged from 2Q 2014, at 5.1 percent. Net absorption was positive 126,290 sf, and vacant sublease space decreased by 39,901 sf. In 2Q 2014, net absorption was positive 44,839 sf.

Tenants moving into large blocks of space in 2014 include:

  • LA Fitness moving into 70,049 sf at LA Fitness;
  • LA Fitness moving into 40,794 sf at Lacks Home Furnishings; and
  • Gold's Gym moving into 39,892 sf at 6001 Middle Fiskville Rd.

Quoted rental rates increased from 2Q 2014 levels, ending at $17.78 per sf per year.

A total of four retail buildings with 58,239 sf of retail space were delivered to the market in 3Q 2014, with 446,065 sf still under construction at the end of the quarter.

This trend is compared to the U.S. National Retail vacancy rate, which decreased to 6.3 percent, with net absorption positive 26.48 million sf in 3Q 2014. Average rental rates increased to $14.84, and 542 retail buildings delivered to the market totaling more than 13.9 million sf.

Read more at CoStar Group.

Harte Hanks to add 250 jobs at Austin call center 

(11/10/2014 7:55:00 AM)

AUSTIN - Harte Hanks, a San Antonio-based direct marketing firm, plans to add 250 jobs to its workforce of 800 at its Austin call center office on Wells Branch Pkwy.

That expansion will come as Harte Hanks adds client programs and shifts toward seasonal campaigns that require more personnel.

The company will likely have to take more space in its current office building just east of the Mopac Expressway if it grows its workforce by more than 25 percent, according to Craig Johnston, Harte Hanks’ director of operations.

There are currently no plans for a second Harte Hanks location in Austin, but continued growth in 2015 and beyond could make such a move necessary, according to Johnston.

The company’s clients are typically Fortune 100 companies in industries such as electronics, cellphones, health care logistics and higher education.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

City Point's 396-unit Austin complex sold 

(11/7/2014 8:00:00 AM)

AUSTIN - The 396-unit City Point apartment community at 1071 Clayton Lane has been sold to a Canadian firm.

Located near I-35 and US Hwy. 290, City Point offers one- and two-bedroom units ranging in size from 504 sf to 920 sf and in price from $699 to $999, according to

Firmus Equity Partners of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, secured a $19.5 million Fannie Mae fixed rate loan for the acquisition of City Point.

City Point was built in 1983 and about 20 percent of the units were recently remodeled. Firmus plans to continue the upgrades.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

Grow Texas: Austin by the numbers 


AUSTIN - As of 2014, Austin's population is 799,939 people. Since 2000, the population has grown by 14.5 percent.

The median home cost in Austin is $229,700. Homes have appreciated 12.6 percent in the last year.

Compared to the rest of the country, Austin's cost of living is 6.5 percent higher than the U.S. average.

Austin public schools spend $11,995 per student. The U.S. average is $12,435. There are about 14.7 students per teacher in Austin.

The unemployment rate in Austin is 3.5 percent. The U.S. average is 6.3 percent.


Median resident age: 31.1 years
Household Size: 2.4
Est. Household Income: $58,932
Median Home Price: $229,700
Homes Owned: 41.4%
Home Appreciation: 12.6%
Family Households: 51.9%
Married Population: 42.5%
Single Population: 57.5%
College Education: 40.5%
Commute Time: 23 mins.


Read more at the San Antonio Business Journal.

Leander: Rockspring acquires 28 acres 


LEANDER - Rockspring Capital, a real estate investment firm based in Houston, has acquired a 28.4-acre site off Old FM 2243, just west of US 183. The site is a prime location for a multifamily development with commercial fronting.

The site is located within the Leander Independent School District. Adjacent to the property is a 350-acre plot, which will soon hold 1,000 single-family homes.

Old FM 2243 will expand from two to four lanes next year, which will make the already-popular corridor one of the most-traveled in the area.

“According to U.S. Census data, Leander has more than tripled in size in the last 15 years. This is a result of Austin’s booming economy,” says Jim McAlister IV, president and CEO of Rockspring.

Read more at GlobeSt.

Austin 246,000-SF McNeil 1 brings $11 million 

(11/5/2014 6:20:00 AM)

AUSTIN - McNeil 1, a 246,390-sf industrial complex at 12317 Technology Blvd., has been sold for $10.6 million.

The building, which is 53.3 percent occupied, is adjacent to the 279,000-sf McNeil Business Park which is 100 percent leased. 

About 140,000 sf at McNeil 1 is available for lease.

PS Business Parks, who bought McNeil 1, is a publicly traded company based in Glendale, California, which owns and operates nearly 29 million sf of commercial space in eight states. The purchase increases the company’s presence in Austin to 2 million sf.

Vacancy rates continue to drop in the industrial sector to 11.3 percent, according to CBRE's third quarter report. The northwest submarket is close to that average with 11.2 percent vacancy.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

Austin's Mueller adding more than 250 homes 


AUSTIN - Construction has started on 275 new houses at the Mueller development in Central Austin.

There are already more than 1,000 houses and 1,200 apartments already built or under construction, bringing the total number of homes in the development to more than 2,500.

Since beginning in 2004, the 700-acre project has been buzzing with construction. Dozens of stores and restaurants and hundreds of homes have been built, but the project is still only 40 percent complete.

Mueller is expected to be completed in ten years. When all of the construction is complete, there will be about 5,600 homes.

Construction is also starting on Town Center, a 40-acre entertainment district. Town Center is a planned 1.2 million-sf mixed-use lifestyle district that will feature a mix of retail, dining, cultural and entertainment options as well as workplaces, apartments and condominiums.

Read more at KVUE News.

UT-Austin hooks groundbreaking on $172M business school 


AUSTIN - The McCombs School of Business will officially break ground on the new 458,000-sf graduate business building on Nov. 7. The building will be located at the corner of Guadalupe St. and E. Martin Luther King Blvd.

The $172 million building will house the Texas MBA and Texas Masters of Science in Technology Commercialization programs, expand executive education and conference capacity and include additional spaces for campus parking.

Robert B. Rowling Hall is scheduled to welcome its first class of students in 2017. The building is named after McCombs alumnus and former University of Texas regent Bob Rowling whose gift of $25 million launched the campaign to fund the construction of the building.

Read more at the University of Texas at Austin.

For more, see previous story $172M, 458,000-SF Rowling Hall set for UT-Austin debut.

Red-hot Austin apartment market could see relief soon 

(10/31/2014 10:45:00 AM)

AUSTIN - The data behind Austin's red hot apartment market could spell relief for some renters. Almost 18,000 units are now under construction in the metro area and some of the new complexes are concentrated in smaller submarkets.

Those submarkets could see rent concessions return after years of escalating prices and diminished supply, according to the latest Austin Multifamily Trend Report from Austin Investor Interests LLC.

With 17,639 units in the pipeline — making Austin one of the most aggressive apartment markets in the nation — concern is rising about the viability of an estimated 8,000 units that are scheduled to break ground in the next 180 days.

Here's a look at other highlights of the Austin Multifamily Trend Report for third quarter 2014:

•  94.8 percent occupancy, compared to 95.8 percent for the same period a year ago
•  $1,070 average rent, compared to $1,007 in 2013
•  853-sf average size, compared to 852 sf in 2013
•  $1.26 rental rates per sf, compared to $1.18 in 2013
•  19,991 units in far North Austin make it the largest submarket in the city.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal. See more apartments data under Austin Market Data Sources.

Austin Senior Care of Onion Creek sold for $14 million 


AUSTIN - The 125-bed Senior Care of Onion Creek, located at 1700 Onion Creek Pkwy., has been acquired for $14 million by Sabra Health Care REIT Inc.

The skilled nursing facility opened in 2011 and is operated by Senior Care Centers LLC, which operates nursing facilities throughout Texas.

Read more at GlobeNewswire and Senior Care of Onion Creek.

HomeAway Austin opens 115,000-SF office at the Domain 


AUSTIN - Online travel marketplace business HomeAway Inc. has opened an office at 11800 Domain Dr., across from Whole Foods Market. The 114,665-sf office is HomeAway’s fourth Austin-area office.

In the spring, retail tenants are expected to occupy the first floor of the building and additional HomeAway employees will occupy the fourth and fifth floors once they are completed.

Currently, HomeAway at The Domain has about 300 employees and by April, the company hopes to have more than 750, said CEO and Founder Brian Sharples.

"HomeAway was founded in Austin nine years ago with a staff of six, and today has more than 920 local employees and more than 1,720 worldwide," Sharples said.

"We are still a relatively young company, and there is a lot of opportunity ahead of us, which means we will continue growing our headcount in Austin for the foreseeable future."

Read more at Community Impact Newspaper.

Austin Techni Center I, II, IIB sold to Calif. company 

(10/30/2014 10:23:00 AM)

AUSTIN - IC Berkeley Partners III of San Francisco purchased the 145,027-sf Techni Center I at 4100 Ed Bluestein Blvd. and the 61,893-sf Techni Center II and IIB at 6001 Techni Dr.

The seller was Techni Center Partners Ltd. of Austin.

Source: Austin Business Journal

Oden Hughes adding 561 apartments to Austin market 


AUSTIN - Oden Hughes has started construction on the second phases of two of its Austin apartment projects that will bring 561 new units to market for renters seeking luxury living south of downtown.

Oden Hughes will add 285 units just south of its Landmark Southpark community at S. 1st St. and Slaughter Lane. Units will rent for between $950 and $1,750 a month when the first units open in October 2015.

The developer also recently broke ground on 276 units adjacent to the South Austin community formerly known as Landmark Double Creek, which Oden Hughes completed in 2013 and sold last year to Toronto-based Brass Enterprises. That complex has since been renamed The Landing.

Both projects were planned as expansions of the company’s previous developments. However, the new complexes will operate independently under yet-to-be determined new names once they open.

With the new projects, Oden Hughes will have 800 units under construction in Austin. The multifamily developer also has two projects under construction in Houston and one in San Antonio.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

Pflugerville: newspaper founders plan Class 32,000-SF office 


PFLUGERVILLE - 130 Commerce Center is getting a new $5 million Class A office building, adding an additional 32,000 sf of office space to the rapidly developing business and industrial center.

The building will be built by MRS Holdings Inc., which plans to begin construction in early 2015. The Pflugerville City Council approved an agreement Tuesday that lets the Pflugerville Community Development Corp. (PCDC) prelease up to 66 percent of the building.

"This was a mutually beneficial opportunity for the PCDC and MRS Holdings. They have assurance of tenants upon completion, and I am more than confident that we will fill the space with businesses," said PCDC Executive Director Floyd Akers.

MRS Holdings is owned by Pflugerville residents John and Jennifer Garret, who founded the Community Impact Newspaper chain in 2005.

Previously, their company built a $2.5 million, 16,000-sf building at the 130 Commerce Center park, where they then relocated Community Impact Newspaper's headquarters.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

$370M Austin Fairmont Hotel groundbreaking Nov. 3 

(10/27/2014 9:00:00 AM)

AUSTIN - Construction will begin on Nov. 3 on the 1,066-room Fairmont Austin, at the corner of E. Cesar Chavez St. and Red River St. The 1.7-acre site, located next to the Austin Convention Center, is currently a parking lot.

The 37-story hotel is currently projected to open June 3, 2017.

The development will total roughly 1.4 million sf, and — at 595 feet tall — will be the second-tallest building in Austin's skyline after the 680-foot Austonian residential tower.

The $370 million project will be the third convention hotel in the downtown area, joining the 800-room Hilton Austin and the JW Marriott Austin, which is currently under construction on Congress Ave. and is expected to open in February 2014.

The hotel will be the second Fairmont hotel in Texas and will have more than 106,000 sf of meeting space and a 19,000-sf deck. It is expected to generate more than $15 million in hotel occupancy tax revenue and more than $6 million in property taxes each year.

Read more at Culture Map Austin and the Austin Business Journal.

Hillwood grabs $700M Georgetown residential development 



GEORGETOWN - Hillwood Communities has purchased the 755-acre, $700 million Wolf Ranch residential community. The property consists of two separate tracts located off Wolf Ranch Pkwy. and Hwy. 29.

Wolf Ranch will include approximately 1,700 single-family homes, 388 multifamily units, 350 age-targeted units and 20 acres of commercial development. Home prices are expected to range from the high $200,000s to around $550,000.

Groundbreaking is expected to occur in the middle of 2015, with model homes available the following spring.

The development, situated one mile from Georgetown’s historic courthouse square and just west of I-35, is planned to have over seven miles of trails and over 100 acres of parks and open space.

Over 4,000 residents will call Wolf Ranch home after the final building phase is completed within eight to ten years. Hillwood Communities has two additional developments in the Austin area: Rocky Creek Ranch, near Bee Cave, and Sarita Valley in Leander.


Pflugerville lures West Coast coating manufacturer  


PFLUGERVILLE - LifeLast Inc., a Vancouver, Washington-based manufacturer of polyurethane coatings for steel water pipes, is moving its headquarters to Pflugerville.

The company will move into a new, 24,000-sf industrial space at 130 Commerce Center near SH 130 and Pecan Street.

The headquarters relocation is expected to bring about 15 jobs to the region over the next three years and includes a $500,000 capital investment for the company to build and furnish its new base.

The community development corporation is also providing a suite of incentives to the company for its relocation, including six months free rent on its new space, $3,500 in incentives per employee, and a $25,000 relocation expense grant.

Source: Austin Business Journal

DivcoWest secures 185,000-SF office purchase in NW Austin 


AUSTIN - DivcoWest has purchased 185,000 sf of Austin office space, acquiring the Lakewood Center and The Park from Dallas-based Lone Star Funds.

The three-building portfolio consists of Lakewood Center I and II at 6801 Capital of Texas Hwy. and The Park at 8300 N. MoPac Expy.

Located in Northwest Austin, the two-story Lakewood Center buildings measure approximately 47,000 sf each, while the three-story The Park building totals 93,000 sf.

This is the second major Northwest Austin acquisition this year by San Francisco-based DivcoWest, which closed on the 317,000-sf The Campus @ Arboretum in January.

Read more at CoStar Group.

Northwest Austin Cousins kisses $44M Research Park V 

(10/21/2014 10:00:00 AM)

AUSTIN - Cousins Properties has announced that it will break ground in November on the final installment at Research Park Plaza.

Research Park V, at 12301 Research Blvd., will be delivered in 11 months, according to Tim Hendricks, senior vice president of Cousins Properties.

The building will encompass 173,000 sf and cost about $44 million.

"We really feel there's a need for new product in the northwest market where occupancy rates are over 90 percent," Hendricks said.

Cousins Properties is also building Colorado Tower at 303 Colorado St. in downtown Austin, which will begin delivering space in December.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

For more on Colorado Tower, see previous story Austin's Colorado Tower 95% leased.

Austin Lakeline Station affordable housing planned 


AUSTIN - Nonprofit Foundation Communities is slated to begin construction on an affordable housing complex near Capital Metro’s Lakeline Station Park & Ride in 2015 to provide low-income families with access to public transportation, retail and jobs.

The property, located in Northwest Austin, is named Lakeline Station Apartments and will be located at 13635 Rutledge Spur Rd.

Upon completion, the property will have 128 units including 13 units dedicated for families transitioning out of homelessness. The complex will have one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, and average rent for an apartment will be about $650 per month.

Residents who live at Foundation Communities properties typically make an average annual income of $25,000, said Julian Huerta, deputy executive director at Foundation Communities.

Austin-based Foundation Communities offers housing, education and financial planning services to low- and moderate-income families.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs gifted $30 million in funding to Foundation Communities on July 31 to build three low-income residential properties in Austin, including Lakeline Station Apartments.

Read more at Community Impact Newspaper.

Pflugerville chooses 150-acre tract for fourth high school 


PFLUGERVILLE - Pflugerville ISD (PISD) has chosen a 150-acre tract off Weiss Lane near Lake Pflugerville for the district’s fourth high school.

Construction is expected to begin before the end of the year, with the expectation of opening for the 2017-18 school year.

The high school was approved by district voters in May as part of a $287 million bond package and will be home to 2,500 students.

The site is expected to become the home to additional campuses in the future, as the district is seeing most of its growth east of SH 130.

Read more at Community Impact Newspaper.

ABoR: Austin area home sales Sept. 2014 

(10/17/2014 7:55:00 AM)

AUSTIN - The Austin Board of Realtors has released home sales facts for September 2014. Below is a snippet of cities that you might want to see. There's more at the link below!

• The median price of existing single-family homes decreased to $239,900, down 2.5 percent vs. August 2014.
• Existing single-family home sales decreased 12 percent from August 2014 for a total of 2,160 sold units.
• Condos decreased in price to $201,000, down 4.3 percent vs. August 2014.
• Existing condo sales decreased 20.5 percent from August 2014 for a total of 210 sold units.

Select region cities are represented below along with statistics from the ABoR MLS area as a whole.

Austin Region Sales and Price Activity by Units Sold
MLS Wide Median Price
  Sept. 2014
Price Chg.
Sept. 2013
Units Sold
Sept. 2014 
Sale Chg.
Sept. 2013
ACTRIS* (single-family) $239,900 9.0% 2,160 3.6%
ACTRIS (condo) $201,000 6.3% 210 -8.3%
Region Cities**        
Austin $304,000 8.6% 867 0.5%
Round Rock $219,000 12.3% 237 1.7%
Cedar Park $262,750 14.2% 146 15.9%
Georgetown $250,000 13.6% 139 24.1%
Pflugerville $187,000 8.7% 116 2.7%
Leander $194,500 12.4% 102 7.4%
Kyle $163,000 7.2% 72 4.3%
Hutto    $159,000 8.7% 53 0.0%
Buda $200,000 8.1% 35 -30.0%

*Austin/Central Texas Realty Information Service
**Data include single-family only and represent select region cities that sold at least 35 units during September 2014.

See Housing under Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos Market Data Sources or see the full report from the Austin Board of Realtors.

Austin ranks among America's best 'college destinations' 

(10/15/2014 8:55:00 AM)

AUSTIN - The Austin area — home to the University of Texas, St. Edwards University, Austin Community College, Concordia University Texas and others — was ranked the No. 2 mid-sized metro college destination in America by a new report from the American Institute of Economic Research.

The report, the 2014 edition of its annual College Destinations Index, ranked the top 75 metro areas in the U.S. for college students.

“These cities offer opportunity and a high quality of life not just for students, but for residents as well,” said Luke Delorme, the researcher behind the study. “People considering a new place to live or open a business would do well to consider these locations.”

The College Destinations Index ranks locales by the number of college students per capita, the cost of housing for a two-bedroom apartment, walkability, culture, economic health and research and development dollars available per student.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

See the full report at the American Institute for Economic Research.

Austin Fifth & West condo tower set to start 


AUSTIN - Construction is set to begin on Fifth & West Residences, a 39-story tower planned for the northeast corner of Fifth St. and West St.

Demolition on a building that housed the Texas Press Association will start later this month to make way for the new tower, which will bring 154 new luxury condos to market when it opens in fall 2017.

Units will start in the $500,000s, according to Scott Dunaway, a spokesman for the developer, Riverside Resources.

The upscale tower will include conference spaces, outdoor and lounge areas, a fitness center, a yoga studio, a pool deck and a dog park — complete with an indoor lounge and coffee bar.

At 448 feet, the tower will be the fifth tallest downtown, after the Austonian, the 360 Condominiums, the W Austin Hotel & Residences and Frost Bank Tower.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

St. David's Foundation firm on $22M Austin HQ 


AUSTIN - Construction is underway at the corner of 13th St. and San Antonio St. for St. David’s Foundation’s new headquarters.

Upon completion, the $22 million headquarters, located at 1303 San Antonio St., will house its grant writing department and operations for all of its programs, according to Lisa Trahan, director of communications.

St. David’s Foundation is a nonprofit partner of St. David’s HealthCare and currently leases space downtown on Barton Springs Rd.

St. David's Foundation programs serve the Austin metropolitan area and include mobile dental services, scholarships for aspiring health care professionals and initiatives for mental health, healthy living and clinics for the safety net population.

The nonprofit hopes to move into the building in 2015, and will occupy two of the four floors. The foundation has yet to find tenants for the remaining two floors.

Read more at Community Impact Newspaper.

Hotel ZaZa high-end apartments, hotel to downtown Austin  

(10/13/2014 8:45:00 AM)

AUSTIN - Construction is about to begin on a 24-story tower that will include a high-end Hotel ZaZa and more than 200 apartments across from Republic Square Park in downtown Austin.

The apartments and 160-room boutique Hotel ZaZa are scheduled to be completed in late 2016, according to Z-Resorts and Gables Residential, which are partnering in the project.

The site at W. 4th St. between Guadalupe St. and Lavaca St. is currently used for parking. The hotel entrance will be on Lavaca St. and the apartment entrance will face Guadalupe St.

Rates for the Austin Hotel ZaZa are projected to range from $195 to $495 per night.

The hotel is expected to employ about 140 people, said Benji Homsey, president of Texas-based Z-Resorts Management LLC, the development and management group for Hotel ZaZa.

The hotel will have two restaurants, a bar, a spa, conference and event space and a pool overlooking Republic Square Park.

The apartments, which will be built atop the hotel, will have a separate, private rooftop pool.

Austin will be the third Texas market for the ZaZa brand, which also has locations in Houston and Dallas.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

Lottery for South Austin's 15-unit Solavera homes 


AUSTIN - Meritage Homes Corp. construction on Solavera will start by the end of the year. The upscale 15-unit development is in the South Lamar Blvd. corridor.

Solavera encompasses a little over three acres at 2807 Del Curto Rd., a short distance east of the intersection of South Lamar Blvd. and Manchaca Rd.

Prices will likely begin in the $600,000s for the contemporary-styled houses that range in size from 1,814 sf to 2,866 sf.

Interest in Solavera is so strong that the home builder will hold a lottery for qualified buyers. Potential buyers must be prequalified for a loan of $520,000 or more, according to Charlie Coleman, Austin division president of Meritage Homes.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

North Austin land buy; next step to Montebello 140 homes 


AUSTIN - Home builder Taylor Morrison has purchased more than 50 acres at 9100 N. RR 620, between RR 2222 and Anderson Mill Rd.

The home builder will develop a 140-site detached condominium residential community on the tract, with plans to begin development this fall.

The new community, Montebello will offer single-family homes ranging from 1,800 sf to more than 2,700 sf, with a mix of one- and two-story homes.

Montebello is zoned to Leander ISD and backs up to the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. The property is currently located in the City of Austin’s extraterritorial jurisdiction but is slated for public hearings on its annexation in October.

Read more at Community Impact Newspaper and at PR Web.

Pflugerville Home Decor Superstore At Home in 101,000 SF 

(10/9/2014 2:00:00 PM)

PFLUGERVILLE - At Home, the home decor superstore, will host grand opening events for a new 101,000-sf store at 19000 Limestone Commercial Dr. on October 9 at 11 a.m.

At Home offers an expansive selection of more than 50,000 items — including patio furniture, home furnishings, wall decor and decorative accents, rugs and housewares.

The company will be opening another Austin-area location in Cedar Park later in October. Including the Pflugerville location, At Home currently operates 79 stores across 21 states.

Read more at PRNewswire.

Listen to Podcast 230 for this story and more.

Austin industrial 3Q 2014 REOC 

(10/9/2014 6:43:00 AM)

AUSTIN - REOC has released third quarter 2014 data for Austin’s industrial market. Despite some notable leases, the market remained relatively quiet.

The lackluster gain was not nearly enough to make up for the 168,774 sf of negative absorption recorded in 2Q 2014 and did little to boost the cumulative absorption which now stands at 71,663 sf of negative net absorption year-to-date.

The local industrial market closed 3Q 2014 with a vacancy rate of 10.8 percent, which is improved compared to 12.1 percent in 2Q 2014 and stable compared to 10.7 percent in 3Q 2013.

The city’s inventory of roughly 24.1 million sf of warehouse space experienced 118,087 sf of positive net absorption, outperforming the flex market, which recorded negative absorption.

In fact, the warehouse market has accumulated more than 583,000 sf of positive net absorption year-to-date compared to the 655,000 sf of negative absorption experienced in the flex market.

Below are highlights of the Austin industrial market for 3Q 2014.

Austin Industrial Market 3Q 2014
  3Q 2014 3Q 2013
Inventory (SF) 37,198,386 37,070,193
Available (SF) 4,005,698 3,977,855
Vacant 10.8% 10.7%
3Q absorption (SF) 14,704 492,996
Absorption (SF) -71,663 708,307

Source: REOC Austin

$75M mixed-use project takes root in Lakeway 


LAKEWAY, TRAVIS COUNTY - Stratus Properties Inc. has broken ground on a $75 million mixed-use project at the corner of RR 620 and Main St.

The Oaks at Lakeway will include a 95,000-sf HEB Grocery Co. store, a 31,000-sf family fun center with a bowling alley, a 120-room hotel, a single family housing component and some associated office space.

The grocery store and first phase of retail is scheduled to be complete by November 2015.

The 90-acre development will be LEED certified, and about 50 percent of the retail portion has been preleased.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

Mapped: Austin's rents skyrocketing where? 

(10/6/2014 11:45:00 AM)

AUSTIN - Median rents for homes and apartments just north of Circle C Ranch in Southwest Austin increased 110 percent between 2010 and 2012, from $761 to $1,604.

That is the greatest percentage rent increase in the entire Austin area since 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2010, average median gross rent per Census tract was $985. The 25 percent of Census tracts where rent grew fastest saw average median rents of $914 in 2010, almost 7.3 percent lower than the regional average. Their average median gross rents jumped more than 22 percent by 2012, an average increase of $199 and almost 2.5 times the 6.2 percent regional average median rental growth rate.

The highest-quartile tracts for median gross rent increases also saw the median number of rooms per housing unit shrink by 1.4 percent, contrary to the average 0.8 percent growth seen throughout the region.

The lowest quartile of median gross rent growth tracts — roughly 88 Census tracts where rent grew the least — saw the average median rent per tract for this group declined $52, or roughly 5 percent, from $1,085 to $1,033. That is a rate roughly 1.7 times slower than the region average.

The bottom quarter of Austin’s Census tracts entered 2010 with average median gross rents 10 percent higher than average. They were larger, with an average 11 percent more rooms per housing unit in the overall housing stock. These tracts also have significantly less renter-occupied housing units, 40 percent below average in 2010, and 33 percent below average in 2012.

The Austin Business Journal has mapped the tracts where rent increases between 2010 and 2012 were the greatest, colored from blue on the low end to red on the high end.

The map data is based on the 2010, 2011 and 2012 American Community Survey's five-year estimates. Michael Theis is the Austin Business Journal's digital editor.

See the map at the bottom of the story at the Austin Business Journal.

$67M Multi-Generational Austin neighborhood underway 

(10/6/2014 7:40:00 AM)

AUSTIN - The 250-unit Pointe at Ben White and the 183-unit Villages at Ben White have broken ground next to each other at 7000 East Ben White Blvd. near Montopolis Dr. The projects will cost a combined $67 million.

The apartments will house working families and residents 55 and older earning up to 60 percent of the area’s median income, or $51,000 a year.

Rents at The Pointe will start at $744 a month for a one-bedroom, $844 a month for a two-bedroom and $944 a month for a three-bedroom.

Onsite amenities at The Pointe will include a furnished clubhouse, a business center with complimentary wi-fi, an exercise facility and a swimming pool and playground.

At The Villages, a one-bedroom will start at $744 a month and a two-bedroom unit is priced at $844 a month.

The Villages at Ben White will be situated over 11 acres and the Pointed will cover 16 acres.

Read more at MultifamilyBiz and The Austin American-Statesman.

Metrostudy: Austin housing starts rise 17% in 3Q 2014 

(10/3/2014 6:48:00 AM)

AUSTIN - Builders started work on 3,123 homes during third quarter 2014, a 17 percent increase compared with 3Q 2013, according to Metrostudy.

Austin’s housing market is still going strong, but rapidly rising prices are starting to slow momentum.

On an annual basis, housing starts were up 9 percent in the 12 months that ended in September 2014 as builders started construction on 10,205 new homes. That 9 percent increase marks a significant slowing from 2013, when the annual increase was 30 percent.

“The Austin market has experienced a strong year thus far but momentum has started to slow as builders and home buyers are starting to feel the pinch of higher costs and home prices,” said Randall Allsup, Metrostudy regional director of the Austin market.

The region continues to see robust job and population growth, and demand for new homes remains strong, especially in areas that are producing entry- level houses priced below $200,000.

The upswing in third quarter home starts was primarily due to lots becoming available in high-demand areas where builders rushed to get houses started.

Builders are seeing a slowing in their sales, especially in the $300,000 to $700,000 price range, according to Eldon Rude, a local housing market expert. However, builders constructing homes in the $250,000 and below category say their business is picking up.

“The number of new homes under construction can either be an early indicator of future closings, but also may harbor higher levels of inventory and a softer market,” said Allsup.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

Allergan grabs 90,000 SF in North Austin 


AUSTIN - Allergan Inc., the California-based pharmaceutical giant behind Botox and other treatments, has leased 90,000 sf at 301 Howard Lane in North Austin.

Allergan’s lease is in an existing 293,000-sf building that had been vacant and is surrounded by the 300-acre business park dubbed Parmer. CBRE, which represents Parmer developer Karlin Real Estate, changed the building’s name to Parmer 6.2.

The existing loading dock doors will be replaced with a glass facade to create a prominent corner entry that faces Center Ridge Dr.

The 90,000-sf lease represents a major expansion that bodes well for the life sciences and biotech industry in Austin, according to Mark Emerick of CBRE Group Inc.

Emerick said that expansion in that industry sector can be expected with the creation of the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

Austin Investor Interests 2Q 2014 apartment facts 

(9/30/2014 7:10:00 AM)

AUSTIN - The second quarter continued to reflect the health and vitality of the local apartment market, according to Austin Investor Interests.

Rental rates soared, rising another 2.6 percent over the quarter to reach 6.9 percent annually, while occupancy remained steady despite seeing the largest number of completions in five years hit the market over the last six months.

Prevalent new trends include the addition of outdoor enhancements involving common social/entertainment areas, pet related features and social/music venues poolside or in the lounging community center.

Over the next 12 months, the inventory of Class A units will rise nearly 44 percent.

The largest amount of new construction will occur in the central sector, where there is much leasing traffic, but many applicants are unqualified and those that are qualified fear the inclusion of student living.

Just the Facts 2Q 2014
Avg. occupancy 94%
Avg. rent $1,053
Avg. SF 852
Avg. $/SF $1.24
New units added
Avg. sales price/unit $94,039

2Q 2014 Affordable Housing Stats:
16,415 Units — 97.5% — $.93 psf

2Q 2014 Student Housing Stats:
10,459 Units — 95.9% — $1.53 psf

Source: Austin Investor Interests

Click here to see the full 2Q 2014 Austin Multifamily Trend Report, courtesy of Robin Davis.

Austin Stonecreek, Canyon rock with 314,000-SF office sale 


AUSTIN - Three Class A office buildings totaling 314,399 sf have been sold — Stonecreek I and II and Canyon at Wild Basin.

Stonecreek I and II, located at 11920 and 11921 N. Mopac Expy., total 239,819 sf. The buildings sit on a combined 9.6 acres north of The Domain. The two buildings are 97.9 percent leased to CoreLogic, Time Warner, Century Link, Intellimark, TSMC and Siemens.

The Travis Central Appraisal District values Stonecreek I at $11.3 million and Stonecreek II at $34.8 million.

Canyon at Wild Basin, a 74,580-sf building at 115 Wild Basin Rd., was also sold. The property is located on 10.7 acres and includes a three-story building as well as a two-story parking garage.

The property is 80 percent leased to tenants including Open Symmetry, Alliance Association Management, Downs & Stanford, Dynamic Computing Services, X1 Labs, Creative Solutions, Cloud eight Sixteen, Powell & Leon, Human Software Group and Texas Republic Capital Corporation.

The Travis Central Appraisal District values the property at $12.6 million.

A private real estate fund purchased Stonecreek I and II, while CapRidge Partners purchased Canyon at Wild Basin. All three buildings were sold by Intercontinental Real Estate Group.

Read more at Commercial Property Executive and at the Austin Business Journal.

JLL: Austin No. 5 in U.S. high-tech markets 


AUSTIN - The Austin area is ranked fifth in the nation for its high-tech market, according to the 2014 JLL High-technology Office Outlook report.

The report ranks metropolitan areas based on high-tech growth, high-tech wage growth, high-tech services concentration, share of U.S. venture capital funding, intellectual capital, innovation and market dynamism.

The Austin area was given a weighted score of 58.5. Topping the list was San Francisco with a rating of 84.6, followed by Seattle-Bellevue (71.4), Silicon Valley (70.6) and New York (58.7).

The report noted that Austin has 65,010 high-tech sector employees, up 8.3 percent from 2013. The average high-tech wage in Austin is $100,431, with annual wage growth in 2013 of 8.3 percent.

The JLL report gave Austin high marks for its pro-business environment and quality of life, with its growing access to accelerators and incubators.

It also reported an average rent of $30.44 per sf and noted that due to the fierce competition for workers, high-tech companies are investing heavily in amenities in office spaces.

The Dallas area, which includes Dallas proper and surrounding suburbs north of Fort Worth, also ranked tenth.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

For the full report, see JLL.

Transwestern Austin office: premium not only in gas 

(9/26/2014 7:30:00 AM)

AUSTIN - Austin is one of the most expensive office investment markets in the country, according to information compiled by Transwestern using data from Real Capital Analytics.

The average sf cost for second quarter 2014 was $269 in Austin, ranking it as No. 7 among high-priced markets.

The most expensive market, as might be expected, is Manhattan with an average price per sf of $770. Washington, D.C., San Francisco, San Jose, Boston, and Salt Lake City all landed above Austin on the list.

Of course, Austin doesn’t compare with the big markets when it comes to total volume and velocity of deals. Manhattan topped the volume list with $11.2 billion in sales in the second quarter followed by Los Angeles with $5.1 billion.

According to Transwestern, there were 27 office investment sales including properties or portfolios valued at more than $2.5 million in Austin during the first six months of 2014.

CoStar Group, which has different parameters, calculates the price per sf in Austin much lower — $138. CoStar’s data also indicates a dramatic drop in the amount of office investment deals in the past two quarters — $137 million in 2Q 2014 and $348 million in 1Q 2014.

Compare that with $818.4 million in 4Q 2013, which was the highest quarterly total since 3Q 2012 when nearly $1.1 billion in office investment deals were closed locally.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

For an infographic with the full ranking, see Transwestern.

Austin office space: More supply, less demand? Guess again 

(9/26/2014 6:30:00 AM)

AUSTIN - Even with nearly 750,000 sf of office space under construction in downtown Austin, the area's occupancy rate is poised to increase under intense demand from tenants in a variety of industries.

"When all the buildings that are under construction deliver, the occupancy rate will actually go up, because of the preleasing in the buildings," said Charles Heimsath, president of Austin-based Capitol Market Research.

"That may be an unprecedented situation and shows the tremendous strength of the downtown market."

The occupancy rate in downtown Austin was 88.2 percent in second quarter 2014, up from 84.4 percent two years ago, according to CBRE.

Of five office projects scheduled for completion over the next 15 months, four are more than 90 percent leased, and the developer of the fifth project expects to be fully leased by January 2015. That means the buildings will likely add little to the supply of available space upon completion.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal.

Austin XBiotech firm on Phase I of $200M campus 


AUSTIN - XBiotech USA Inc., an emerging Austin drug developer, has broken ground on the first manufacturing and research (R&D) facility at its 48-acre site off Riverside Dr. in Southeast Austin.

The R&D facility is expected to eventually house a $200 million campus of buildings.

The 46,000-sf building will cost “no more than $12 million,” according to company President and CEO John Simard.

Currently, there is no firm timeline for the start of construction of a second manufacturing and research building — the campus will eventually feature several such buildings and employ about 2,000 people.

Construction is expected to finish by mid-2015 and start manufacturing and shipping the company’s colorectal cancer-fighting drug Xilonix by early 2016. That drug is currently going through Phase Three trials in the United States and Europe.

XBiotech is privately held company that was started in the mid-2000s and has raised more than $50 million. The company is constantly raising capital to fund development and clinical trials, with a new drug intended to fight MRSA-resistant staph infection expected to start clinical trials in late 2014 or early 2015.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

Set to start on 179,000-SF Austin 5th+Colorado Tower 


AUSTIN - Construction is set to begin on the 179,000-sf 5th+Colorado Tower at the corner of Fifth St. and Colorado St.

Lincoln Property Company (LPC) is developing the 18-story tower, which is scheduled to be completed in first quarter 2016.

The 5th+Colorado Tower will feature nine floors of office space above the eight-floor parking structure. Floor plates will be 19,000 sf, with the first floor featuring retail tenants.

Though tenants have not yet been announced, preleasing interest has been strong, according to Trish Williams, a vice president with LPC.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

SpringHill Suites discover Cedar Park 


CEDAR PARK - An 86-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott is set for construction at 1110 Discovery Blvd., west of SH 183.

The hotel will include a full bar and approximately 1,500 sf of meeting space, along with an outdoor gathering area of about 3,000 sf.

The hotel's outdoor patio and pool will have direct access to the City of Cedar Park’s hike and bike trail.

Solar panels will be installed on the roof to generate a portion of the electricity used by the hotel, while LED lighting throughout the property, above average insulation values and heating and cooling controls will reduce energy use.

Wichita Falls-based Worth Hotels LLC is developing the hotel. When the hotel opens in first quarter 2016, Worth Hotels will operate the facility.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

HEB sets up 46,000 SF in Wimberley 


WIMBERLEY, HAYS COUNTY - HEB Grocery Co. has broken ground on a new store at 14401 Rural Route 12 on the site of the former Bowen Intermediate School.

The 46,000-sf HEB will be the second grocery store in Wimberley, which has about 2,600 residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

The only other major grocery store is Brookshire Brothers.

About 100 people will be employed at the store when it opens in summer 2015.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

Forbes: Austin among fastest-growing family towns 

(9/24/2014 7:00:00 AM)

AUSTIN - A demographic study commissioned by Forbes shows that the Austin area has the second-highest percentage increase in children since the turn of the century.

According to the data, the Austin metro area saw a 49.3 percent increase in the number of children aged between five and 14 years from 2000-2013.

As of 2013, the number of children in that age bracket in the region stood at 261,199, roughly 14 percent of the area’s population.

Forbes chose the 5-14 age bracket because "it encompasses when parents often move due to such issues as school quality, the cost of housing and long-term economic security," says Joel Kotkin in the piece.

Austin was not the lone Texas contender on the list. The Dallas-Fort Worth area was ranked sixth on the list, and Houston came in at No. 8.

Topping the list is Raleigh, North Carolina, which saw a 55.7 percent increase in the number of children between 5-14 over the past 13 years. There, 177,866 school-aged tykes make up 14.6 percent of the total population.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

For the full ranking, see Forbes.

Calif. steam shower HQ heats up Round Rock(s) 


ROUND ROCK - California-based DMA Enterprises Inc. will break ground on September 29, beginning construction on 27 acres at 1958 Steam Way. The company produces the ThermaSol product line of steam showers.

The cost of construction for the 37,000-sf project is $4 million.

The ThermaSol building will anchor a new industrial park featuring six buildings of between 30,000 sf and 50,000 sf, including a five-story office building.

ThermaSol was lured to Round Rock in November 2013, when City officials approved a $400,000 incentive package.

The company plans to bring a minimum of 45 employees to its new digs in Round Rock, and could eventually employ as much as 60 people, according to company officials.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal and Community Impact Newspaper.

ABoR: Austin home sales dip among rising prices 

(9/22/2014 9:15:00 AM)

AUSTIN - The Austin Board of Realtors (ABoR) has released data for August 2014, which became the second consecutive month of declining home sales.

Austin-area home sales decreased 4 percent from August 2013, with 2,835 single-family homes sold. The decline is attributed to rising home prices and housing affordability issues.

“A majority of Austin-area homes are now priced out of an affordable range for first-time and first-time move up homebuyers, where a significant portion of home sales volume occur,” said Bill Evans, President of ABoR.

August 2014 Statistics

•  $247,500: Median price for single-family homes, 11 percent more than August 2013.
•  $311,414: Average price for single-family homes, 9 percent more than August 2013.
•  42: Average number of days single-family homes spent on the market, one day fewer than August 2013.
•  3,310: New single-family home listings on the market, 4 percent more than August 2013.
•  6,707: Active single-family home listings on the market, 10 percent more than August 2013.
•  3.0: Months of inventory* of single-family homes, 0.2 months more than August 2013.

Read more at the Austin Board of Realtors.

For more stats and information on housing and more, check out Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos Market Data Sources.

Austin: 156,000-SF Centennial Towers sold 


AUSTIN - The six-story Centennial Towers at 505 E. Huntland Dr. has been purchased by Boston-based Taurus Investment Holdings LLC. The 156,000-sf property was built in 1986 and is 99 percent occupied.

Tenants currently include Securitas Security Services Inc., KBR USA Inc., Texas A&M University and Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Gallegos & Green PC.

Taurus purchased the office property from Braun Enterprises of Houston. The Travis Central Appraisal District most recently valued the property at about $15.1 million.

Taurus has had a presence in Austin since 2005 when it acquired more than 2,000 acres near SH 130. Through the Dallas offices, it has been moving forward with the development of Whisper Valley and Indian Hills — two massive master-planned communities.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

$38M Affordable housing project to debut in Southeast Austin 


AUSTIN - A $38 million affordable housing apartment complex is set to break ground later in September.

The 252-unit William Cannon Apartments, which will be developed by a partnership between Pedcor Investments and the Travis County Housing Finance Corp., will be located on 28 vacant acres on William Cannon Dr.

Preleasing will start June 2014, with the first apartments ready for move-in by August.

Nearly all the units at the William Cannon Apartments will be aimed at people making no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income, which is $45,250 for a family of four, said Craig Lintner, Pedcor’s senior vice president of development.

A handful of one-bedroom apartments are targeted at those making 50 percent of the median income or less.

Rents for the 72 one-bedroom apartments will range from about $600 to $750, including sewer and water, which is under the market rate of $900.

The 132 two-bedroom apartments will go for $885, compared with the market rate of $1,100, and the 48 three-bedroom apartments will rent for $1,000, while the market rate is $1,250.

Pedcor, which will manage the apartment complex, plans to provide a bevy of on-site social services, some of which were required by the state. Services will include daily after-school homework help, summer youth programming, General Educational Development preparation classes, financial and health courses and an on-site notary public.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

25,000-SF Odyssey first tenant in Round Rock park 


ROUND ROCK - Odyssey Technical Solutions LLC will become the North Park Business Park’s first tenant, signing on for a 25,000-sf facility.

North Park Business Park, which is located off E. Old Settlers Blvd., will be between Chasco Constructors Ltd. and Casa Mechanical Services.

Odyssey, a semiconductor repair company, will bring 48 employees to the park with plans to expand to roughly 110 within two years.

To bring Odyssey within the city limits, the City of Round Rock will award an economic development grant of $55,000 plus an additional $1,000 per job, up to $55,000.

Furthermore, the business will see a total tax abatement for two years, then a 75 percent abatement in the third year and a 50 percent tax abatement in the fourth year.

Read more at Community Impact Newspaper.

California Firefly rockets to 200 acres in Burnet County 

(9/18/2014 6:50:00 AM)

BRIGGS, BURNET COUNTY - A California-based rocket company has purchased 200 acres in far north Burnet County, near the unincorporated area of Briggs.

Firefly Space Systems purchased the land, which is located off US Hwy. 183, near the intersection of CR 210. The company is expected to break ground in the coming weeks on a 75×100-ft. building and a test pad at the site.

Firefly is a private company that specializes in customized small rocket technology primarily used to launch small satellites into space.

According to their website,, the company touts the “rise of the boutique rocket firms” inspired by SpaceX in McGregor near Waco.

Firefly will test small rocket engines at the Briggs location. PJ King, the company's chief operating officer, expects to hire up to 200 workers, mostly engineers.

"These are all high-paying jobs," he said.

King said Firefly was attracted to Texas partly because of its business and regulatory climate. It will also develop its rocket engines in collaboration with the University of Texas.

Read more at The Daily Tribune and Associated Press.

Whew! Wow! Listen to Podcast 228 for more stories you may not have heard!

Bee Cave's Hill Country Galleria sold to California buyer 


BEE CAVE - The Hill Country Galleria shopping center has been purchased by the California State Teacher’s Retirement System as part of a larger transaction.

The shopping center is located near SH 71 and Ranch Rd. 2244 and is currently 95 percent occupied, according to leasing brokerage The Weitzman Group.

The shopping center, which is anchored by Dillard's, Whole Foods Market Inc. and Dick's Sporting Goods, originally was developed by Opus West Corp. based in Phoenix. Opus was liquidated in bankruptcy and the mall was sold at auction in 2010.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

North Austin's Dalewood Townhomes trade West Coast hands 


AUSTIN - The Dalewood Townhomes at 9600 Dalewood Dr. in North Austin have been sold.

Dalewood Townhomes consists of 55 two-bedroom units that vary in rent from $1,178 to $1,320. The community was built in 1984 and covers 9510-9608 Woodvale Dr. and 9511-9617 Woodvale Dr.

A private trust, in association with California-based Pacific Real Estate Partners Inc., purchased the community from California-based Virtue Dalewood Townhomes Owner LLC.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

Austin Hampton Inn & Suites to Summit for $53M 

(9/17/2014 10:10:00 AM)

AUSTIN - Summit Hotel Properties Inc. has purchased the Hampton Inn & Suites at 200 San Jacinto Blvd., its first Austin asset. The publicly-traded real estate investment trust paid $53 million for a leasehold position of the 209-room hotel.

The Hampton Inn & Suites was built in 2002. Summit expects to invest about $2.4 million in improvements.

Summit did not disclose the name of the seller or the owner of the land beneath the hotel, but Travis Central Appraisal District records indicate that the landowner is Austin-based Finley Co.

Summit Hotel Properties moved its headquarters to Austin in late 2012 from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The real estate investment company owns 91 hotels with almost 11,600 rooms in 21 states.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

Florida investor grabs 58,000 SF at Austin's Walden Park 


AUSTIN - Florida-based PEBB Enterprises has purchased 57,964 sf of the Walden Park shopping center at 10900 Lakeline Mall Dr.

PEBB is partnering with The Retail Connection to aggressively market the space, which was 75 percent empty when they acquired it.

HomeGoods has leased 24,201 sf and will move into PEBB’s portion of the center in first quarter 2015.

Ulta is taking 10,000 sf next door and should open in about a month. Sally Beauty, Good Feet, Subway, Lakeline Dental and a nail salon are also under lease.

Walden Park is owned by three entities — Target Corp., which owns the 171,000-sf SuperTarget; the PEBB property on the east side and then a third investor — Inland American Austin Walden Park LLC represented by The Weitzman Group, which owns about 34,000 sf on the west side.

Family-owned PEBB has been in the shopping center business for more than 40 years and is expanding to the East Coast and some Southern states. Currently, the company owns 1.5 million sf of retail space.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

Colliers: Austin office market 2Q 2014 

(9/12/2014 6:59:00 AM)

AUSTIN - Austin has more than 2.4 million sf of office space under construction and seven new buildings were completed in second quarter 2014, according to the Colliers International.

Over 188,000 sf of new office inventory was delivered during 2Q 2014, bringing year-to-date delivered inventory to 587,657 sf.

Citywide vacancy stood at 10.7 percent in 2Q 2014, down from 11.6 percent in 2Q 2013.

Of the seven buildings totaling delivered in 2Q 2014, the most notable delivery was the Seaholm Power Plant Building, which is 117,000 sf and is now 97 percent leased to Athena Health care.

Austin’s office market posted 85,623 sf of positive net absorption in 2Q 2014, pushing year-to-date 2014 net absorption to positive 375,246 sf.

The citywide average rental rate increased from $28.33 per sf to $28.59 per sf over the quarter and from $26.53 per sf to $27.77 per sf over the year.

According to local economists, 2014 job growth will remain strong with 68,000 to 72,000 new jobs forecasted for the year. Austin’s unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent from 4.6 percent in 2Q 2013.

Click here for the full PDF.

Read more at Realty News Report.

West Austin: the most educated place in Texas 


TRAVIS COUNTY - The Lost Creek neighborhood in West Austin is the most educated place in Texas and ranks seventh in the United States, according to a report by Business Insider (BI).

With about 5,000 residents, Lost Creek has its own census tract, and BI relied on U.S. Census Bureau data and tracts to compile its map and list of the most educated towns in every state.

Like Lost Creek, most of the identified areas are places just outside big cities. BI reports that 86 percent of residents there have a bachelor's degree or higher.

Riches often follow a stout education, so it's probably not surprising that the Lost Creek area recently made the Austin Business Journal's list of the wealthiest areas of Central Texas.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

For the full report, see Business Insider.

For more on the wealthiest areas of Central Texas, see previous story Where the wealthy live: Austin area richest ZIP codes.

Austin: 104,000-SF Mesa Oaks office kicks off Phase 1 

(9/11/2014 6:57:00 AM)

AUSTIN - Construction has begun on the first phase of Mesa Oaks, a 104,000-sf office project off William Cannon Dr. and SH 290.

Mesa Oaks will consist of seven buildings ranging from 9,300 sf to 20,150 sf.

Phase 1 will include the construction of a 20,150-sf building.

Read more at Texas Real Estate Business.

For more information about Mesa Oaks, see Equitable Commercial Realty.

Horseshoe Bay: Fluor completes $500M power plant 


HORSESHOE BAY, LLANO COUNTY AND BURNET COUNTY - The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) has achieved substantial completion for the Ferguson Replacement Project, a high-efficiency combined-cycle power plant at 2001 Ferguson Rd.

The 540 megawatt natural gas-fired power plant replaces the now-closed and less efficient 420 megawatt Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant, which was built in 1974.

The new plant, which is less than 100 yards from the original plant, had an estimated cost of $500 million, according to the LCRA.

The Ferguson Replacement Project is a combined-cycle type of power plant, which combines a gas turbine system and a steam-cycle system to generate electricity.

The combination of the cycles creates a highly efficient power plant that uses about 35 percent less fuel and produces fewer emissions per unit of power produced than traditional gas-fired power plants like the existing Ferguson power plant.

Fluor was awarded a lump-sum turnkey engineering, procurement and construction contract for the project on November 11, 2011.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal and at the Lower Colorado River Authority.

Listen to Podcast 227 for this story and more.

Austin's Colorado Tower 95% leased 

(9/10/2014 11:00:00 AM)

AUSTIN - Cousins Properties Inc. has signed five new leases totaling 157,279 sf at Colorado Tower, which is under construction at 303 Colorado St.

Leasing at the 373,000-sf, Class A office development is now 95 percent complete, up from 51 percent at the end of June.

Listed below are the five leases signed:

•  Parsley Energy, Inc. expanded by 61,264 sf and now leases a total of 135,107 sf.
•  Atlassian, Inc. expanded by 48,346 sf and now leases a total of 72,530 sf.
•  IPSoft, Inc. leased 24,184 sf.
•  Kelly Hart & Hallman LLP leased 14,180 sf
•  Invesco Management Group Inc. leased 9,305 sf.

Projected to be delivered in December 2014, Colorado Tower will be the first high-rise office tower developed in downtown Austin since Cousins developed Frost Bank Tower in 2003.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal.

NAR Austin housing market 2Q 2014 

(9/10/2014 7:30:00 AM)

AUSTIN - Second quarter 2014 housing data have been released for the Austin market by the National Association of Realtors.

NAR Austin Housing Market 2Q 2014
Price Activity Austin U.S. Local Trend
Current Median Home Price (2Q 2014) $247,500 $212,267 Prices are up from a year ago,
but price growth is slowing.
1-year (4-quarter) Appreciation (2Q 2014) 7.1% 4.6%
3-year (12-quarter) Appreciation (2Q 2014) 24.2% 25.8%
3-year (12-quarter) Housing Equity Gain* $48,200 $43,600 Gains in the last 3 years have
extended the trend of positive
price growth after the recession.
7-year (28 quarters) Housing Equity Gain* $60,900 -11,500
9-year (36 quarters) Housing Equity Gain* $80,700 -$8,000

*Equity gain reflects price appreciation only.

Source: National Association of Realtors, courtesy of Prudential Ada Realtors.

Click to see the full report.

Also see more Housing data under Austin Market Data Sources.

Acxiom opening Austin office, to hire 150 


AUSTIN - Acxiom, an Arkansas-based marketing technology firm, has announced that it will open an Austin office to tap into the region’s technical workforce.

The company plans to fill up to 150 positions in areas including network engineering, security engineering and systems engineering; network architecture and project management.

The company will host a recruiting event on September 25 at 5 p.m. at Steiner Ranch Steakhouse, where applicants can meet executives and learn more about the company. Applications are being accepted through the careers section of the company’s website.

Founded in 1969, Acxiom provides marketing and information management services. The company, which has 4,500 employees worldwide, collects and analyzes consumer and business information for customers.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

Shopping center to rise at Round Rock Garden Ridge site 


ROUND ROCK - A new 100,000-sf shopping center will be underway this fall at the current site of the Round Rock Garden Ridge store at 2800 S. I-35. The store is set to close Oct. 15.

Shortly thereafter, Austin developers Manny Farahani, Jimmy Nassour and Steve Portnoy, the site’s new owners, plan to begin tearing down the 40-year-old structure, which was originally constructed as an outlet mall.

The new center will feature about 100,000 sf for up to four anchor stores, 15,000 sf for smaller shops and to pad sites for freestanding buildings.

The project marks one of the first speculative shopping centers to be built in Central Texas in at least five years, according to Retail Connection’s Lance Morris. With retail occupancies in the area well above 90 percent, the owners believe the time is right to add new space to the market.

Despite the closure of the Round Rock store, Garden Ridge, which is in the process of changing its name to At Home, is still bullish on Central Texas, a spokeswoman said.

Two new stores will open this fall at the Stone Hill Town Center in Pflugerville and in the Cedar Park Town Center.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

California REIT nabs two Austin apartments in $45M deal 

(9/9/2014 7:15:00 AM)

AUSTIN - A newly formed real estate investment trust has purchased two Austin apartment complexes in separate transactions for a total of $45 million.

Steadfast Apartment REIT, based in Orange County, California, purchased the Club at Summer Valley for $21.5 million and Terrace Cove for $23.5 million.

The Club at Summer Valley is located at 744 West William Cannon Dr. The 260-unit apartment community sits on nine acres and was built in 1983. At the time of closing it was 98 percent occupied.

The Club at Summer Valley offers one- and two-bedroom apartments ranging from 563 sf to 1,229 sf. Rent varies from $729 to $1,251.

Terrace Cove, located at 6201 Sneed Cove, includes 304 units on 13 acres and was built in 1986. The complex, which was also 98 percent occupied at the time of sale, offers one- and two-bedroom units ranging from 500 sf to 1,000 sf. Rent varies from $685 to $1,020.

The seller was not disclosed, but records at the Travis Central Appraisal District indicate both properties were owned by Stonemark S/SV LP in Atlanta. Stonemark purchased the properties in 2007.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

170 Homes drop into Dripping Springs near Nutty Brown Rd. 

(9/8/2014 6:53:00 AM)

DRIPPING SPRINGS - Crescent Communities has announced plans to open two new sections of homes in Belterra, adding 170 homes to the subdivision off US 290 between Nutty Brown Rd. and Sawyer Ranch Rd.

One section, Seneca Trails, will have 70 homes to be built by Sitterle Homes and Drees Custom Homes. The first houses are expected to be ready for residents by spring 2015. Prices will range from the mid-$400,000s to the low $700,000s, said Tommy Tucker, a vice president with Crescent.

The other section, Mesa Verde Hills, will have 99 homes built by Wilshire Homes and Highland Homes. Prices will be from the low $300,000s to the mid-$400,000s. The first homes should be ready in late 2014 or early 2015.

Belterra, which was acquired by Crescent Communities nine months ago, is planned for 2,000 homes. About 1,350 of those have been built to date.

Of Belterra’s 1,600 acres, 25 percent — 400 acres — will remain open space, including about six to ten miles of trails, Tucker said.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

Cedar Park 'ion' Voltabox incentives with jobs, facility 


CEDAR PARK - The Cedar Park City Council has approved two economic incentive agreements for a manufacturer of high-tech lithium ion battery systems.

Voltabox of Texas plans to build a $6 million 22,000-sf facility in the Scottsdale Crossing industrial park east of Toll 183A, and will maintain at least ten new skilled jobs for five years. In return the company will be reimbursed 50 percent of its city property taxes for up to five years.

The City of Cedar Park will also reimburse the company up to $147,908 after the firm builds a road between Toll 183A and Scottsdale Dr., said Larry Holt, assistant director of economic development.

Cedar Park City Council has also approved expanding the Scottsdale Crossing reinvestment zone to include the Voltabox site.

Voltabox hopes to have its Scottsdale Crossing headquarters finished by March 2015, according to Paul Malone, vice president of marketing and sales.

Voltabox of Texas currently has 13 employees and hopes to increase its employment to 35 by late 2015, said Chief Operating Officer Rick Herndon. The company also plans to expand its Cedar Park facility in time to introduce new energy products that are currently being developed at the firm’s Germany location.

Voltabox custom-builds and safety-tests lithium ion battery systems for business and municipal transportation vehicles that include hybrid or fully electric-powered engines.

Read more at Community Impact Newspaper.

Austin's downtown condo market on the rise 

(9/5/2014 7:00:00 AM)

AUSTIN - Is the downtown Austin condo market heating up after years of being stagnant?

Anna Hardeman, broker and owner of The Boutique Real Estate, crunched some numbers, and Charles Heimsath, president of Capitol Market Research, weigh in on the prospect of new for-sale product.

According to Hardeman, thus far 209 downtown condos have sold this year. Compare that to sales completed by Sept. 30, 2013, when 157 condo sales had been recorded.

In her estimation there are four tiers of product from the highest end luxury condos, which include numerous amenities — such as The Austonian or the W Residences, to the more affordable entry-level projects with few amenities — such as Ave. Lofts and the Railyard Condominiums.

“What we need is the Tier two stack,” Hardeman said. Tier two communities “are higher end buildings minus all the fanfare. They have understated luxury.” She classifies Nokonah, Austin City Lofts and the 555 Condos above the Hilton, and the proposed Fifth and West Residences in that category.

Could that niche demand encourage new condo development or condo conversions downtown?

“It’s not likely that any of the large downtown properties will convert in the foreseeable future, but I would expect to see more small central core properties convert over the next few years," said Charles Heimsath of Capitol Market Research.

Though more new condo development likely will evolve, he said, it won't be on par with the current apartment boom. “The demand is evident but financing is still difficult,” Heimsath said.

Here’s a look at more of Hardeman’s research for the first six months of 2014.

•  157 condos sold (78 one-bedroom, 73 two-bedroom and eight three-bedroom units)
•  55 condos currently on the market
•  $119,250 least expensive one-bedroom condo sold (Greenwood Towers)
•  $799,000 most expensive one-bedroom sold (W Residences)
•  $179,000 least expensive two-bedroom condo sold (Greenwood Towers)
•  $1,675,000 most expensive two-bedroom condo sold (W Residences)
•  $665,000 least expensive three-bedroom condo sold (Towers of Town Lake)
•  $2,537,500 most expensive three-bedroom condo sold (W Residences)

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

Storied lakefront property draws investor to Lake Travis 


LAGO VISTA - A Houston-based entity has purchased a 59-acre waterfront property that was formerly the Casa Lago Resort, on the north side of Lake Travis.

Though no price was disclosed, a marketing brochure for the property at 1900 American Dr. shows a listing price of $1.8 million.

About 41 acres of the parcel are zoned for a Planned Development District (PPD), as defined by the City of Lago Vista. The other 18 acres are unentitled but include lake frontage. A preliminary plat that was approved in 2007 has expired, but the zoning remains in place.

The PDD allows for 225 condominiums, a 200-slip dry stack marina, a 50-slip floating marina, a restaurant and bar plus other commercial uses.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

San Marcos' Texas State STAR incubator hatches 20 acres 


SAN MARCOS - Texas State University will expand its Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Park business incubator following the acquisition of 20 acres adjacent to the San Marcos facility.

The TSU System board of regents approved the purchase for $1.7 million.

The expansion will bring STAR Park to a total size of just over 58 acres after the site is completely built out in approximately 20 years. The total facility would be able to accommodate 500,000 sf of engineering, laboratory and office space once completed.

The regents also voted to split an expansion of the STAR One building into two phases to allow the addition of six new lab spaces to begin sooner than a 16,000-sf expansion project.

STAR One was paid for with funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, the City of San Marcos and Texas State University.

Businesses that operate out of STAR Park must be involved with TSU in product research, development, engineering, testing and/or scale production of a proprietary product, process or service.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

Austin: Seaholm condos under contract reach 80% 

(8/29/2014 7:45:00 AM)

AUSTIN - The 30-story Seaholm Residences tower, under construction on W. Cesar Chavez St. at the site of the former Seaholm Power Plant, has begun converting reservations for condos into contracts.

Developer Seaholm Power LLC and Austin-based Urbanspace set a record in fall 2013 when all 280 units in the tower were reserved within a week.

In early August, contracts started going out to convert those reservations to contracts. Within two weeks, more than 80 percent of the building is now officially under contract. Sales will become final once the building is completed in fall 2015.

Condo prices at Seaholm Residences range from about $300,000 to upwards of $1 million.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

Invesco buys Austin's 238,000-SF Barton Oaks Plaza II, III 

(8/29/2014 6:59:00 AM)

AUSTIN - Barton Oaks Plaza II and III, two office buildings located east of MoPac Expy. at Bee Cave Rd., have been sold.

Atlanta-based Invesco Real Estate purchased the office buildings which total 237,835 sf.

The two five-story buildings are located on 6.8 acres and are 90 percent leased. Tenants include Fiserve Solutions, GSC Architects, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. and Parsons Brinckerhoff.

A joint venture between Austin-based HPI Real Estate Services & Investments and Dallas-based Sarofim Realty Advisors sold the properties to Invesco.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

Austin Onion Creek homes in buyout 

(8/29/2014 6:45:00 AM)

AUSTIN - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced that it will sign separate agreements with the City of Austin and Travis County to buy out homes in the 25-year floodplain of Onion Creek.

The Corps of Engineers will also restore 206 acres of riparian areas along the creek and provide 140 acres of recreational features.

The U.S. Congress appropriated up to $11.8 million for the Onion Creek project in March 2014. Of this, up to $1 million will go toward Travis County’s share of the project and $8 million to $10 million will be dedicated for the City of Austin’s share.

The Corps of Engineers will use the remainder of this year’s funds to begin the design work on the recreational features. More federal funding is expected in future years.

The total project cost is estimated at $85,455,000.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

Austin CC debuts 200,000-SF Highland Campus in former mall 


AUSTIN - Austin Community College (ACC) has opened its new Highland Campus. The 200,000-sf facility is located in what used to be a JCPenney’s in the former Highland Mall.

The ACC Highland Campus includes classrooms, a library, study areas and the ACCelerator, a high-tech math learning lab with more than 600 computer stations.

ACC and Austin-area officials welcomed more than 800 visitors to the new campus, which opened classes Aug. 25 with 3,900 enrollees, well above the college's projected 3,000 students, ACC President Richard Rhodes said.

ACC is in the midst of finalizing a master plan for the rest of the former Highland Mall, which first opened in 1971 and will close retail operations this year following the holiday shopping season.

In July, ACC board trustees approved a public-private partnership that potentially brings cloud management technology company Rackspace to the former Dillard's space on the south side of the mall. Rackspace intends to relocate 570 employees to the new Highland Campus by late 2015.

Read more at Community Impact Newspaper.

For more on Rackspace’s move to the mall, see previous story Rackspace clouds Austin CC Highland campus.

Austin getting to The Point at Ben White with 250 units 


AUSTIN - An affordable apartment housing project with 250 units valued at $37.6 million is in the works for 7000 E. Ben White Blvd.

The Point at Ben White, located northwest of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, is being developed by LDG Multifamily LLC.

The community, which should be complete by December 2015, includes 12 three-story buildings for a total of 250 units. Qualified residents must be make 60 percent or less of the median area income or $51,000 annually.

Rents will range from $704 per month for a one-bedroom apartment to $844 per month for a two-bedroom unit to $944 per month for a three-bedroom unit.

Market value rents in the area by comparison are $900 a month for a one-bedroom unit, $1,100 for a two-bedroom and $1,350 a month for a three-bedroom.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman and Austin Business Journal.

Nice talk: Interactions Corp. to hire 1,000 in Austin 


AUSTIN - Interactions Corp. plans to add 1,000 new workers in Austin by the end of 2015 to support its growing customer base.

The Franklin, Massachusetts-based company provides services intended to ease frustration with automated voice and text customer service systems. Interactions Corp. claims clients that include Hyatt Hotels Corp., Humana Inc. and TXU Energy.

In Austin, the company works out of an office building near E. Rundberg Lane and I-35 that Rackspace Inc. plans to vacate when it shifts operations to the redeveloping Highland Mall.

The new Austin employees would be hired as entry-level "intent analysts," according to Interactions Corp.'s Executive Vice President Jim Dreher.

The company is keen to hire employees to fill the intent analysts' positions who can speak and understand more than one language, especially Spanish.

Interactions Corp. has had an Austin presence since 2007, when it opened its "iCenter.” It currently employs 300.

Read more at the Austin Business Journal.

ABIA monthly traffic hits 1M for first time 


AUSTIN - July was the first month ever to see more than 1 million passengers travel through Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

The record total of 1,006,417 travelers was up 9 percent from Jul 2013, and topped the previous single month record of 968,545 — which had just been set in June 2014.

The Austin airport has seen robust growth in recent years, thanks in part to the addition of four new carriers in the past year and steady population increases.

Only one out of the past 55 months — since January 2010 — has not seen passenger growth at the airport.

ABIA is the nation’s third fastest-growing airport behind New ­Orleans and Houston, according to industry trade publication Airline Weekly.

In July, the airport also reported cargo traffic figures, which were down slightly, less than 1 percent, at 11.9 million pounds.

However, international air cargo, with the addition of British Airways in the last year, continued to see a meteoric rise in shipments, which were up 74 percent to 1.3 million pounds.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman and the City of Austin.

Cedar Park $22M intersection project transformation 


CEDAR PARK - The City of Cedar Park has broken ground on a $22 million project to transform FM 1431, also known as Whitestone Blvd.

The 16-month project will expand FM 1431 from four to six lanes between Parmer Lane and Sam Bass Rd., add turn lanes for side streets and rebuild the intersection of Whitestone Blvd. and Parmer Lane/Ronald Reagan Blvd.

The intersection will be converted into a partial continuous-flow intersection. When complete, drivers on Parmer and Reagan will be able to make traditional turns onto Whitestone, but drivers on Whitestone will wait at separate signals to bring them across to the road's left side before permitting them to turn onto Parmer or Reagan.

Cedar Park residents have become accustomed to traffic around the intersection, with more than 70,000 cars traveling FM 1431 each day.

"Not only is it an expansion of FM 1431 for commuting but also for economic development. Our hospital, shopping, entertainment are right on this road,” said Cedar Park Mayor Matt Powell.

TxDOT and Williamson County are also chipping in for the project.

Read more at Community Impact Newspaper.

Austin: 34-story JW Marriott moves opening date to Feb. 


AUSTIN - The 1,012-room JW Marriott hotel has pushed forward its opening date, thanks to construction continuing to run ahead of schedule.

The 34-story hotel at E. 2nd St. and Congress Ave. is now set to welcome its first guests February 13, 2015. When completed, the facility will be the city’s largest hotel.

Already, event organizers have booked gatherings at the hotel that will account for more than 375,000 room nights through 2020, said developer White Lodging.

Work on the lobby, swimming pool, bars and restaurants, meeting rooms and other public areas inside the JW Marriott is 80 percent complete, said General Manager Scott Blalock.

The JW Marriott is one of several new hotels set to come online in the downtown area in the next few years, including another convention-sized hotel, the 1,054-room Fairmont Austin at E. Cesar Chavez St. and Red River St. It is scheduled to open in either 2016 or 2017.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

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