South First Named One of the Best Places to Visit in the US

Lonely Planet named the South First Street area in Austin one of the ten best places in the country to go right now, Austin 360 reports.

Lonely Planet cites Bouldin Creek Cafe and Torchy’s Tacos as destinations and applauds the casual, easy vibe of South First Street in direct contrast to the trendiness of South Congress.

They also suggest taking the CapMetro Bus 10 or renting a B-cycle to spend a day exploring the boutiques, vintage shops and bakeries along the street, and of course recommend a stop by the ubiquitous “Greetings from Austin” mural at the corner of Annie and South First.

For lodging, Lonely Planet recommends South Congress Hotel or a local house or room rented via Air BnB or Home Away.  

The other destinations in the country that Lonely Planet said were must visits are East Liberty and Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh; Avondale, Chicago; Point Loma, San Diego; East Nashville, Nashville; Capitol Riverfront and Yards Park, Washington D.C.; Montavilla, Portland; and River North, Denver.

Started out a tourist, but ready to put down roots in Austin?  Apartment Experts South can help!  Give us a call today at 512-416-8100 to find your perfect apartment in no time!  

Austin Tops for Commercial Real Estate Investment

Austin was named the best “non-gateway city” for commercial real estate investment, the Austin Business Journal reports.  (Gateway is New York and Los Angeles.)

DLA Piper’s Annual State of the Market named Austin the best city for commercial real estate investment in the country.  They asked 220 executives in the real estate biz from the best real estate firms in the country where they thought the best city was for investment and 45% of them said Austin.  That puts Austin on top, tied with Seattle.

Denver and Nashville tied for the next spot with 33% of the respondents naming them both great investment cities.

Chinese investors are the biggest foreign investor in the US market.  In Austin, a Chinese firm is partnering with a domestic one on the construction of 70 Rainey.

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Austin’s GDP 2nd in the US

Austin’s Gross Domestic Product was the 2nd highest in the nation, the Austin American Business Journal reports.

The Gross Domestic Product measures the total amount of all the goods and services that come out of the Austin metro area and was $125.8 billion in 2016, up 4.9 percent from 2015’s $119.9 billion.

The San Francisco Bay area beat out Austin in the rankings of metros with a population of at least 2 million.

Austin’s growth was strongest in the professional and business services sector, as well as finance and real estate.  Construction, trade and information were also robust.  The biggest drop in GDP was in the energy and durable-goods manufacturing industries.

Out of the United States’ 382 metropolitan areas, 267 saw an increase in their real GDP.  The average rise was 1.7 percent.

In Texas, GDP in Dallas was up 3 percent in 2016, but Houston’s was down 3 percent due to slowdowns in the energy industry.

Austin may have had the best growth in the country last year, but it was the smallest increase in Austin since 2012.  The Austin Metro Area’s growth has been super fast since 2011.  GDP was $93.4 billion that year.

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Austin Most Fun City in Texas

Austin came in as the top fun city in Texas in WalletHub’s new study, the Austin American Statesman reports.

It’s probably not surprising to most Texans that we beat out other cities like Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.  However Austinites who like to have a good time may be surprised by the fact that Austin was listed as just the 18th most fun city in the country.  

Austin did okay in the Nightlife and Parties category, coming in at number 17, and slightly worse in the Entertainment and Recreation category, snagging the 24th spot, its ranking was tanked by its showing in the costs category: 50th.  

Wondering where the most fun is to be had in the US?  That would be Las Vegas, Orlando and New York.  The least fun cities?  Brownsville and Oxnard, California.

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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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Austin Housing Market Most Expensive in Texas

It’s unlikely to surprise anyone who has looked to buy or rent in the city of Austin recently, but Austin came in as the most expensive market in the state of Texas in a recent mid-year report, Culturemap Austin reports.  

For January through June 2017, 48.7 percent of the houses on the market in the Austin area were priced at $300,000 or more.  Compare that to the Dallas-Fort Worth area which was the  second most expensive area with 37.8 percent of listed homes over $300,000, Houston which had just 31.4 percent of homes at that higher price tag, and San Antonio where only 23.6 percent of homes for sale were listed at $300,000 or higher.

The Austin area also had the highest percentage of houses at $1 million or more with 2.3 percent.  Houston was second with 1.9 percent, Dallas-Fort Worth had 1.8 percent and San Antonio was the lowest with 0.5 percent.

Austin’s median home price was also the highest in the state at $295,000, an increase of 5 percent over a year ago.  The Dallas-Fort Worth median price was $254,269, Houston’s was $229,000, and San Antonio’s was $210,000.

Austin’s median monthly rent was also tops in Texas at $1,139.  Dallas-Fort Worth’s median rent was $1,090, Houston’s was $1,000, and San Antonio’s was $886.

Experts warn that the effects of Hurricane Harvey on Houston’s housing market are still to come.  Houston’s housing market is 25% of the state’s overall.  

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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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A New Kind of Development in Westlake

A new mixed-use development in Westlake is a completely new type of build for the tony zip code, the Austin Business Journal reports.

Located across from Barton Creek Mall on 16 acres, the project will have an apartment building with 168 units, 71 townhomes, and a three story office building with 55,000 square feet.  That sort of density is a rarity for this area heavy with large homes on large lots.

After years of wrangling with neighbors who are concerned about increased traffic from the development, the project started construction at the beginning of last year and is forecast to be complete near the beginning of next year.  A traffic study found that the project would add less traffic than the project that was set for the land previously (and never built).

The project also had to get approval from the Austin City Council for a mixed-use development.  It was able to use an ordinance that allowed construction over the aquifer as long as it didn’t increase impervious cover, put in place controls for pollution, and put money into a fund the city maintains that buys land for preservation.

Housing and office space in the project will be pricey, but still well below prices for less densely built developments in the notoriously expensive 78746 zip code.  The townhomes for sale start at $600,000 and go up to $900,000, rent for apartments will be over $2 per square foot, and $3,000 a month for townhomes that are for rent.  By comparison, the median price of Westlake homes for June was $1,060,250.

The project is forecast to cost at least $75 million in total, but the developers are planning to make a huge return on that investment.  Buildable land in the hilly area is rare, and so any new development is quickly snatched up. 

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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.

Looking for an apartment in Austin and want to take advantage of the slowing growth in rental rates?  Apartment Experts North can help!  Give us a call today at 512-339-4411!

New Downtown Library Announces Grand Opening

The hotly anticipated new downtown Austin library, under construction on Cesar Chavez, has announced a date for its grand opening, the Austin Business Journal reports.

The new library will open on Saturday October 28th at 10am after four years of construction and $125 million in costs.  The library will replace the current one, Faulk Central Library, located at 8th and Guadalupe Street. Faulk will cut back on services beginning in August 14th and close permanently September 15th.

The new library is twice as big as Faulk, at 200,000 square feet.  In addition to the services and amenities one would expect from a library, the new building will have a large atrium, an art gallery, and a restaurant.  

The new library has some pretty impressive neighbors too.  The Austin Proper Hotel & Residences, a 32-story development, is under construction at 202 Nueces Street, just across Shoal Creek, and Google just finished its future home at 500 West 2nd, less than a quarter mile away.

Looking to find a downtown apartment close to the new library and all the amazing things to do downtown?  Apartment Experts South can help!  Give us a call today at 512-416-8100!