RECON

Real Estate Center Online News

March 23, 2012


$500 Million Downtown Austin Redevelopment Planned

AUSTIN (Austin American-Statesman) – The Austin city council announced plans yesterday for the redevelopment of the Green Water Treatment Plant site downtown.

The half-billion dollar vision is expected to include 826 apartments in two 30-story high-rise towers, a 28-floor office building, a 17-story hotel, and 82,000 sf of ground-level retail space. In all, Trammel Crow envisions 1.75 million sf of development on the 4.4-acre site, which the firm would purchase for $42.4 million.

Trammell Crow won the bid in 2008 to negotiate for the purchase of the site, and now expects to break ground on the first apartment tower later this year. Adam Nims, a principal with Trammell Crow, announced that 87 of the apartment units in the first tower will be considered below market rate.

The city council will make its final vote on Trammell Crow’s purchase of the site April 5.

Phony Homestead Tax Email Targets Seniors

HOUSTON (Harris County Appraisal District) – Although an email continues to circulate urging voters this May to keep the homestead tax cap for elderly and disabled homeowners in Texas, there will be no homestead tax amendment on the ballot. And for good reason: The issue was taken care of five years ago.

According to the Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD):

"In May, 2007, Texas voters approved Proposition 1, a constitutional amendment providing property tax relief to elderly and disabled homeowners. Planning for the approval of the constitutional amendment, legislators approved HB 5. HB 5 provided tax relief to senior citizens and disabled persons by ensuring school tax ceilings were reduced proportionally to reflect school tax rate reductions granted to all other property owners."

The information in the email is invalid.

Corpus Christi Outlet Project Back on Track

ROBSTOWN (Corpus Christi Caller-Times) – The long-planned Outlets at Corpus Christi Bay are closer to reality, a developer of the retail mall said.

While Dolphin Ventures works to cement financing arrangements and agreements with tenants, they hope the first 290,000 sf of the $62 million project will open by late 2013.

A sign on the 50-acre site at US 77 and SH 44 in Robstown had promised a 2011 opening date, but the recession and tighter lending regulations held the project back.

Rick Carduner of Dolphin Ventures hopes the addition of Iowa-based Lockard Companies to the project development team will aid in financing and attracting tenants.

Robstown is about 20 miles west of Corpus Christi.

Austin Expensive for Renters

AUSTIN (Austin Chronicle) – According to a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Austin is the most expensive city in Texas for renters earning minimum wage.

Whereas in Texas, a full-time worker must earn at least $15.88 per hour to cover fair market rent of $826 for a two-bedroom apartment, Austin employees must earn $19.02 to cover their housing expenses.

Fair market rent is $944 for a two-bedroom unit in Austin.

Kathy Stark, executive director of the Austin Tenants’ Council, adds that it’s not just rents that are rising in Austin.

“Water bills went up, wastewater went up, and electric is proposed to go up. And all of those increases are huge, and they impact directly on a tenant’s ability to live where they want to live,” Stark said.

Grapevine Code Changes Encourage Development

GRAPEVINE (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) – In a push to get more apartment projects approved in Grapevine, city officials unanimously approved changes to the building code, specifically parking and green space requirements.

The changes came after city council members asked the local planning and zoning commission to determine whether variances requested in recent apartment proposals were in line with current industry practices.

Under the revised code, developers are now required to provide only two parking spaces per apartment unit, rather than 2.5. Where garages are integrated into the buildings, tandem parking will also be allowed, meaning that a second car can park in front of the garage. Parking can also be included closer to primary street frontage, provided a landscaping berm is built in between.

Aside from parking changes, developers will now also be required to provide at least 250 sf of open green space per apartment unit.

Larry Oliver, chairman of the planning and zoning commission, expects that the open space requirement will give residents a view of “something green rather than asphalt.”

Austin, Fort Worth Tops in Real Estate

AUSTIN (Austin Business Journal) – Texas takes two spots on the National Association of Realtor’s list of ten best real estate investment markets.

Austin takes the number two spot, while Fort Worth ranks fifth.

Tucson, Ariz., topped the list of the 146 investment markets that Realtor.com ranked. Kansas City, Mo., fell just behind Austin, followed by Baltimore.

Mesquite Shopping Center Sold

MESQUITE (GlobeSt.com) – Dallas-based The Retail Connection and North American Development Group, a Canadian shopping center acquisition and development company, have purchased Towne Center Plaza in Mesquite.

The 94,109-sf center is on 8.8 acres. It is 76 percent occupied. Tenants include Bed Bath & Beyond and Best Buy. The Retail Connection hopes to finalize a lease soon on the space recently vacated by Borders bookstore.

The Los Angeles-based seller was asking $12.25 million for the ten-year-old property, but the final selling price was not disclosed.

Phillips 66 to Call Houston Home

HOUSTON (Houston Business Journal) – Phillips 66 will house its new headquarters in Houston, not far from ConocoPhillips, the company it will split from this summer.

Rather than find a new area for its home base, Phillips 66 employees are expected to locate just ten miles from the current ConocoPhillips headquarters. Although the new site has not been identified, they plan to build near I-10 and Beltway 8.

Phillips 66 employees will be housed temporarily in Westlake Park on Memorial Dr. as well as in another building in the Westchase area, while ConocoPhillips employees will be consolidated to its 2.3 million-sf complex on 600 N. Dairy Ashford Rd.

Construction on the new headquarters is expected to take two to three years.

Red Zone: Tips on Negotiating Pipeline Easements

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – Natural gas drilling in Texas’ shale regions may be lucrative for mineral rights owners, but it can be a headache for landowners with surface rights who are unprepared to negotiate with pipeline companies.

On this week's Real Estate Red Zone podcast, Real Estate Center attorney Judon Fambrough offers landowners tips on negotiating gas pipeline easements and walks them through the condemnation process.

Also, Bryan Pope and Edie Craig cover the latest real estate news out of Rockport, Pflugerville, Pharr, Houston, Dallas, Austin and Waco.

You can listen to the free podcast from your computer by going to recenter.tamu.edu/podcast and clicking the “play” button beneath each episode. To subscribe, click on the RSS feed found on the podcast page. You can also subscribe through iTunes and download each episode to your iPod.

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