Make Room: Retail Real Estate Heats Up in Austin

Everything’s bigger in Austin, including demand for commercial real estate space.

Texas’s fourth-most populous city is a hotspot for many industries, and retail is no different: 22,000+ jobs were added to Austin from companies expanding or moving into the city in 2020, compared with 13,562 in 2019, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

The city overtook Los Angeles as the No. 1 commercial real estate market for potential deals, according to an investor survey from CBRE Group earlier this year.

“By the end of 2020, we were pretty busy, but we hadn’t returned to the same level of activity that we were at prior to the pandemic beginning,“ John Heffington, a retail service broker at CBRE’s Austin office, told Retail Brew. “What we saw in February or March of this year was just an explosion of activity and new retailers looking to enter the market along with current retailers who are looking to expand within our market.”

Deals that were put on hold because of the pandemic were pushed over the finish line once retailers were confident in reopening, Heffington said.
Retail Brew spoke with retailers in the Austin area to discuss the market’s strengths and how their stores have performed during the pandemic. Click to read more at

Valor Club USA Establishes Office in San Antonio

Valor Club USA has announced the opening of a San Antonio office. President and CEO, Michael S. McDowell, Ed.D, will oversee the development of the Valor Club, a comprehensive, one-of-a-kind, 200-acre, mixed-use community committed to building and sustaining a support structure for veterans and their families transitioning from military services into civilian life.

“For the past two years, Valor Club has worked hard to build productive and lasting relationships with the San Antonio leadership serving our transitioning service members, veterans, and their loved ones,” McDowell said. “San Antonio is a welcoming community with unmatched potential, incorporating a beautiful culture and proud spirit. As a resident, my first priority is to serve the community by delivering a comprehensive living and learning development and building an interoperable culture with a strong value proposition that is lasting and scalable.”

Live, Play & Thrive is the cornerstone of the Valor Club philosophy, which reflects the belief that by providing transitioning veterans and their families a safe, affordable, and dignified place to live, our heroes will thrive in their civilian lives. Veterans will be given the tools and resources they need to succeed including mental health services, employment centers, educational opportunities, and corporate partnership programs to allow veterans to work in specific industries.

“Mike’s presence in San Antonio will enhance our ability to effectively develop the Valor Club and provide desperately needed services for transitioning veterans,” said Irwin Jay Deutch, Managing Partner of Valor Club Partners. “The veteran community will benefit from social and recreation programs, in addition to having access to job opportunities that Mike will help identify by working with local and regional corporations.

The development will blend world-class recreational facilities, residential units for veterans, a hotel, commercial, retail, veteran support services, and unique entertainment district anchored by an indoor/outdoor performance and training center. With a mix of residential, retail, veterans’ services, and recreation, the neighborhoods will be phased over time as the community grows.

Walker & Dunlop, Ivanhoe Cambridge Form Equity Partnership

The joint venture has made its first two investments in Texas and Tennessee.

Walker & Dunlop Investment Partners and Ivanhoé Cambridge, which formed a joint venture to make preferred equity investments in multifamily, student housing and manufactured housing properties, have made their first two investments totaling nearly $10 million in Texas and Tennessee.

Executives at both firms said they would be focusing primarily on properties in the top 25 MSAs, particularly in the Southeast, South and Southwest. The first transaction was an approximately $4 million preferred equity investment into a joint venture with Pegasus Real Estate to acquire Collection at Overlook, now rebranded as Cornerstone at Overlook, in San Antonio, Texas.

The 240-unit multifamily property was constructed in the 1980s and is located near a medical center in the city’s northwest section. The second transaction was a $5.6 million preferred equity investment into a joint venture with Valor Residential to acquire Overlook at Farragut, a recently delivered 267-unit multifamily property in the Farragut submarket of Knoxville, Tenn. Click to read more at

KKR Agrees to Sell Riata Corporate Park in Austin, Texas

KKR, a leading global investment firm, today announced that KKR has agreed to sell Riata Corporate Park (“Riata”) to a global institutional investor in a deal valued at over $300 million. The transaction is anticipated to close in the coming months.

Riata Corporate Park is an eight building, 688,100 square foot, Class A office campus located in the Austin Technology Corridor in Northwest Austin, Texas. The campus is well located just minutes from The Domain, Austin’s premiere mixed-used retail and entertainment hub. The property is 100% leased and occupied by a high-quality tenant group that includes publicly traded companies along with a mix of technology, financial services and healthcare businesses.

Since purchasing Riata in December 2019 through its Americas opportunistic real estate strategy together with Endeavor Real Estate Group (“Endeavor”), KKR has substantially upgraded the property’s fitness center, café, landscaping, outdoor amenities and other features. KKR and Endeavour also completed significant deferred maintenance.

“Our long-term focus on high-quality properties in great locations within attractive growth markets led us to invest in Riata, a tech-focused office campus in one of the country’s most desirable cities,” said Roger Morales, KKR Partner and Head of Real Estate Acquisitions. “We are proud of the property and capital improvements delivered under our ownership in what has been a very successful pre-pandemic office investment. Click to read more at

More Than 800 apartments et to Land in East Austin on Manor Road

A mixed-use complex featuring more than 800 apartments is in the works along Manor Road in East Austin.

Austin-based real estate developer Cumby Group announced August 24 that it plans to build three adjacent projects comprising more than 800 apartments, along with 150,000 square feet of live-work and business space. The projects will sit on nearly 9 acres between Airport Boulevard and the Mueller development.

Work is already underway on The Emma, a five-story, art-deco-style building at 3219 Manor Rd. providing 146 apartments. Amenities will include a live-work space on the ground floor and an elevated courtyard pool. The Emma is scheduled to open next summer.

Next door at 3115 Manor Rd., Cumby Group plans to build a couple of five-story, mixed-use buildings offering a total of 450 to 500 apartments. Amenities will include live-work and business space, as well as a neighborhood spot that may include food trucks, a makers market, and a farmers market. Construction is scheduled to start in the spring of 2022.

The third project, at 3303 Manor Rd., tentatively will supply about 200 apartments, along with an area for food trucks. Click to read more at

Churchill Forge Expands San Antonio Footprint

Churchill Forge Properties has acquired Celeste at La Cantera, a 300-unit Class A community in San Antonio from USAA Real Estate. Institutional Property Advisors closed the transaction on behalf of the seller.

Completed in 2018, Celeste at La Cantera is a four- and five-story building occupying 6.2 acres at 6107 Via La Cantera. The property has one- to three-bedroom apartments and one penthouse unit. Floorplans range from 558 to 1,906 square feet. Amenities include a swimming pool, a gym, a clubhouse and roughly 450 parking spaces.

The community is next to Brookfield Properties’ 1.2 million-square-foot The Shops at La Cantera, 1 mile from the University of Texas at San Antonio and 15 miles northwest of downtown.

The deal marks the second major Texas acquisition Churchill Forge has closed so far this year. In January, the Boston investor purchased a 320-unit Class A property in Austin, Yardi Matrix shows. State Farm provided $35.8 million in acquisition financing. Click to read more at