Austin on Shortlist to Get Amazon’s 2nd Headquarters

Amazon has included Austin in its shortlist of 20 cities that might get the online retail giant’s 2nd HQ, the Austin American Statesman reports.  

Amazon plans to put $5 billion dollars into their 2nd Headquarters and will hire 50,000 professional workers at high salaries in whatever city they land. The goal is an “HQ2” that equals their current Seattle offices.

238 cities in the US, Canada and Mexico put their hats into the ring in 2017. Requirements that Amazon set forth included a population of more than one million people and a city that was already attracting employees in the tech sector.

Austin doesn’t plan to give Amazon any local financial incentives, but the Texas governor Greg Abbott has said that it will put forth its own incentives for any Texas city applying to be the new Amazon HQ. Dallas also made the top 20 cities.

Mayor Steve Adler told Amazon that Amazon and Austin could work together on mobility and affordability issues if the city is picked.  After Amazon announced that Austin made the shortlist, the Mayor said Austin would have to look closely at the pros and cons of having a huge project like Amazon’s 2nd Headquarters come here.

The Governor issued a statement saying he is very excited about Austin and Dallas making the cut and thinks Texas is an ideal location for the new HQ.

The other cities on the list are: Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; Chicago; Indianapolis; Denver, Colorado; Nashville, Tennessee; Montgomery County, Maryland; Northern Virginia; Los Angeles; Boston; New York; Newark, New Jersey; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Washington, D.C.; Raleigh, North Carolina; Miami; and Toronto.  Amazon plans to name the chosen city later in 2018.

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Austin Named 6th Hottest Housing Market in the US by Zillow

Austin has been named one of the ten hottest housing markets in the country, Culturemap Austin reports.

Zillow ranked US cities on metrics including home value and rent forecasts, income and population growth, current unemployment rates, and the number of job openings per person from Glassdoor to come up with a “hotness” score.

Austin’s hotness score put us in the 6th spot. As far as what neighborhoods are projected to see the biggest growth?  Zillow said Pecan Springs Springdale, MLK, Montopolis, West Congress, and Coronado Hills will see their home values increase the most.

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Austin Named 7th Best Housing Market for Millennials by Trulia

Austin made Trulia’s list of best housing markets for millennials, Business Insider reports.

Austin grabbed the 7th spot on their list of biggest markets poised for growth.  Trulia looked at several key metrics: job growth, vacancy rates, the affordability of a starter-home, online listing searches, and the percentage of people living there that are younger than 35.

Austin’s job growth was 2.3%, the share of income needed to buy a home is 47.5% and 26.3% of Austin’s population is under 35.

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Austin Not the Most Expensive Place to Rent in Texas

Austin is not the most expensive place to rent in Texas, Culturemap Austin reports. Surprisingly, that honor belongs to Houston.

The study looked at the number of cost-burdened renters in the top 4 metros in Texas. A renter is considered cost-burdened if they pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent.

In Austin, 47.7 percent of renters are cost-burdened, with 26.5 percent being moderately cost-burdened and 21.2 percent being severely cost-burdened.  Austin ranked 40 on a list of 100 metro areas for affordability of housing.

Dallas Fort-Worth has 45.3 percent cost-burdened renters, 25.1 percent moderately cost-burdened renters, and 20.2 percent severely cost-burdened.  DFW came in as the 18th most affordable city in the country and the most affordable in Texas.

San Antonio has 47.7 percent cost-burdened renters, 25.8 percent moderately cost-burdened renters, and 21.9 percent severely cost-burdened renters. It ranks 38 on the housing affordability list.

49 percent of Houston’s renters are cost-burdened, with 24.9 percent of them considered moderately cost-burdened and 24.1 percent of them severely cost-burdened.  It came in at number 58 on the list of 100 metros.

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Austin’s Economy is the Second Best in the Country

A recent survey found that Austin has the 2nd best economy in the United States, only beat out by Provo, Utah, the Austin Business Journal reports.  

Austin had been number one for the past two years.  The cities are ranked using numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Austin added 275,000 new people to the city in the past half decade, which is a 15.5 population increase.  2,900 jobs were added in the private sector each month since 2012, which is a growth rate of 26 percent.

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New Mixed Use Development in Cedar Park

A new mixed-use development in Cedar Park is underway, the Austin Business Journal reports.

The project was started as a way to add office space closer to where workers are living.  American Constructors found that their employees were living in the suburbs in Cedar Park, Leander and Round Rock, where housing was more affordable.  Their CEO reached out to developer Riverside Resources in hopes of moving their operations from Southwest Austin to Cedar Park where most of their employees reside.  The goal was to cut back on workers’ commutes.

The expansion of Apple, Inc., in Northwest Austin, as well as Charles Schwab Co., Inc., and HomeAway Inc. has led to a much bigger demand for housing and retail in the area.

Riverside Resources is behind the Presidio, a mixed-use community on 100 acres near West Parmer Lane and Brushy Creek Road.  American Constructors is the anchor tenant and has roughly fifty percent of the 25,000 square feet of office space in the first office building in the development.  Other tenants include First American Title Co., Edward Jones, and Thrivent Financial.  There are plans to add another 50,000 square foot office building.

A 337 unit multifamily development called Latitude at the Presidio is set to open in early 2018.

To meet the demands of all the office workers and residents, a trail will be added through the development as well as retail.  23,000 square feet will be constructed in the first phase, with a focus on restaurant-centric design with outdoor decks, a rarity in Cedar Park.

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Waller Creek Improvements Continue

Construction will begin this week on improvements to Waterloo Park, the Austin American Statesman reports.

Waterloo Park will see a $64 million dollar overhaul that the city hopes will be completed by the end of 2019. The new redesign will have an amphitheater, a large lawn, trails, gardens, and play spaces.

Waterloo will be one of the parks along the 37 acre Waller Creek Improvement project.  The project’s goal is to improve parkland, reduce flooding in the area, and connect downtown with Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail.

Read more about the details of the project on the Statesman’s website.

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New Suburban Austin Development

The suburbs of Austin are growing.  In fact, about two of every three people who move to the Austin area decide to call the suburbs home.  The Austin Business Journal reports on several mixed-use projects in the works for towns around Austin.

In Pflugerville, developers are hoping for city council’s approval to build a mixed-use project with 1,208 residential units, 1.1 million square feet of office space, 3,000 square feet of shopping and restaurant space, a hotel with 200 rooms, a civic building, 10 acres of parkland, a festival street, an amphitheater and more.  This version of the 45 acre project called the Pecan District will cost $1.2 billion and bring a ton of tax revenue to the city, according to the developer, as reported by the Austin American Statesman.

If the city doesn’t give an okay to the zoning change, the land will just be used to build 735 residential units, 194,000 square feet of office space, 84,000 square feet of shopping and restaurants, and there will not be a hotel or the other amenities.  The developer says this version will only cost $400 million and will create way less tax revenue, as well as have a giant parking lot as a feature.

In Smithville, the city has approved a 42 acre mixed-use development that will add $25 million to the tax rolls for the city, according to the Austin American Statesman.  The planned community will have apartments, a hotel, and assisted living for seniors.  It will have retail as well, put forth as a store, bank, convenience store and restaurants.

In Bastrop, a downtown lot that has been vacant since a fire many years ago is set to be redeveloped.  The City of Bastrop used it for events for years until severe structural problems were discovered which forced it to close.  The city eventually sold the land to the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation for $4.  Stone Cobalt Partners is redeveloping the site into a mixed-use building with 4,500 square feet that will include a restaurant and stores on the first floor, offices on the 2nd floor, a balcony that will have a view of Main Street and may also add a rooftop deck that can host events.  

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Austin Rental Market Hints at Stabilizing

After several years of growth in rent, there are signs that Austin’s rental market is seeing a leveling off, Bisnow reports.  

Austin did not make Abodo’s list of the the biggest increases in rent.  New Orleans and Corpus Christi topped that list.

Austin’s increase in rent was more modest.  Median rent in the city went up 2.6% between July and August to $1,154 for a one bedroom and $1,429 for a two bedroom.  Austin’s median rent nabs it the 26th spot for the country, which is not bad compared to other cities.

August is historically a hot one for the apartment market because of a return of UT students to the city.

Abodo says that Austin’s rental market is on the cusp of switching from a market that favors landlords to one that favors renters. For a long time, landlords could set prices at almost whatever they wanted and still find renters.  However, lots of multifamily construction has led to more modest increases in rent and landlords have to compete with what other apartments are renting at to find tenants.

Austin’s smaller size compared to other cities also works in favor of renters.  Residents are willing and able to live just a bit further out and nab an apartment with more amenities and a better price than pay more just to be near downtown.

The slower growth doesn’t mean that rent is going to go down, it just hints at a stable multifamily market.  A lot of companies are buying older apartment communities and making upgrades, but rent at those older communities is only slightly less than the brand new apartments.  This leads newer apartments to not be able to charge as much as they would otherwise because at a certain point potential renters will just save money by going to a rehabbed older complex.

Abodo councils no one to expect Austin’s rent prices to drop anytime soon.  As long as Austin is a desirable destination to live in, the cost of living will be higher.

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Round Rock Office Building Breaks Ground

A large new office building has begun construction in Round Rock, the Austin American Statesman reports.

The 95,000 square foot building Summit II at La Frontera will be located at IH-35 and Texas 45 next to the Summit I and the two buildings will surround a shared courtyard with Wi-Fi, chairs and tables, and space for food trucks.  Both buildings are owned by Mark IV.

Round Rock’s commercial office space business is booming with vacancy rates at just 5 percent.  Many businesses see Round Rock as a much cheaper alternative to the high costs of office space in downtown Austin and the desire to cut commute times for workers who live in Round Rock.

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