Austin Environmental Commission OKs Updated Version of Development Plan Near Lady Bird Lake

The city of Austin is one step closer to redeveloping land near the Austin American-Statesman building, an area where many Austinites watch the South Congress Avenue Bridge bats fly, following the approval of a planned unit development, or PUD.

The applicant, Richard Suttle, is proposing an 18.86-acre PUD located at 305 S. Congress Ave., Austin, on the corner of South Congress and Lady Bird Lake, near the Austin American-Statesman building. The PUD will add trails, lawn space, a pier and a boardwalk area close to the shoreline of Lady Bird Lake.

Staff from the Austin Watershed Protection Department did not recommend the approval of the original PUD, citing multiple environmental concerns. The Austin Environmental Commission approved an amended version of the PUD that meets multiple environmental requirements and addresses those concerns. The PUD now moves to the Austin Planning Commission.

A PUD is a type of zoning that alters code requirements in exchange for other construction opportunities. PUDs are required to preserve the natural environment, provide high-quality development and innovative design, and ensure adequate public facilities and services, Environmental Program Manager Atha Phillips said.

A debate sparked between Phillips and Suttle led to the amended version of the PUD. Phillips said the original proposed lawn areas of the PUD would add and remove certain vegetation, causing additional erosion. Click to read more at www.communityimpact.com.

The Rise Of Productivity As A Service In The Coworking Model

In 2020, it briefly seemed like the stunning rise of coworking spaces would come to a crashing halt. Now, however, new coworking spaces and other shared office models are cropping up in every major city. Demand is on the rise again as many professionals itch to get back to the office — just not the office they went to before the start of this pandemic.

To provide value to professionals who have the flexibility to work from wherever they please, offices must have what most homes lack: quiet, privacy and amenities that support focused work. For many, the shoulder-to-shoulder environment of old coworking spaces won’t cut it anymore.

Here’s a look at what the new “productivity as a service” paradigm means for commercial real estate.

Employees May Be Productive At Home, But Their Work Environments Are Taking A Toll

By many accounts, workers became more productive while working from home. The National Bureau of Economic Research estimates an overall 5% productivity lift in the U.S. economy from remote work, especially among knowledge workers who enjoyed less time in meetings at home and more time on the tasks that matter.

So why return to the office at all? Click to read more at www.forbes.com.

Exponential Growth, Investment, and Planning for the Future Were Key Themes at the REDnews Collin County CRE Summit

On Wednesday, September 29th, some of the biggest names in Texas real estate convened at Toyota Stadium in Frisco to discuss the numerous facets of commercial real estate in Collin County. The summit consisted of four panels highlighting commercial real estate investment trends and insights across the broader region.

Despite the brief economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, population growth and investment in real estate in Collin County has continued to press forward. Cities such as Frisco, McKinney, Plano, Allen, Celina, Anna, and more, are just some of the places where positive growth and expansion are taking place. 

Collin County officials are striving to provide the business and quality of life amenities being sought by the incoming companies while Municipal authorities and economic development councils are working hard to stay ahead of infrastructure needs, and to ensure that projects can get permitted and built within an acceptable time frame.

These topics, and more, were much of the focus of the summit. The event kicked off with a brief intro from keynote speaker from David Craig, Chairman & CEO, Craig International, and then jumped right into identifying and wrangling some of the region’s biggest challenges and opportunities.

Big things are on the way 

National interest in Texas not only means new investment but there’s much more competition to get the next deal. Fortunately, there is still plenty of room (and opportunity) in Collin County for everyone from employers, residents, and institutional investors.

These themes were discussed during the first panel, which featured Allen Gump, Executive Vice President with Colliers; Herb Weitzman, Executive Chairman of Weitzman; Steve Zimmerman, Managing Director of Brokerage for The Retail Connection; and Barry Hand, Principal and Studio Director of Gensler’s Dallas office. The moderator for the panel was Doug Jones, Managing Principal at Cushman & Wakefield.

Pictured from L to R: Doug Jones, Barry Hand, Herb Weitzman, Steve Zimmerman, Allen Gump

Some quick stats help illustrate the story: with 43 million square feet of industrial space over 716 separate properties, Collin County represents roughly 5% of the total industrial product in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. There is currently another 35 million square feet of industrial under construction, making Collin County poised for the boom in leasing demand the region is currently experiencing.

Additionally, there are 107 users in Collin County with 100,000 square feet, or greater, of industrial space. There is a notable presence of big names in Collin County, which include the likes of Amazon, UPS, Southwest Airlines, Motorola, and of course, the Dallas Cowboys. New York and California-based hedge funds are some of the biggest investors in Collin County: since 2016, $1.7 billion has been invested with $237 million under construction just for this year.

Pressure remains to build more multifamily across the region

Multifamily properties remain desirable for investors across the region, but there are some headwinds facing the asset class. 

This theme, and more, was discussed during the event’s second panel, which featured Todd Franks, Executive Managing Director & Founding Principal at Greystone; Paris Rutherford, Principal at Catalyst Urban Development; Jorge Abreu, CEO of Elevate Commercial Investment Group; and Nadia Christian, Partner at Wolverine Interests.

The panel discussion was moderated by Paul Hendershot, Senior Director of Market Analytics for Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas with CoStar Group.

Pictured from L to R: Paul Hendershot, Todd Franks,  Paris Rutherford, Nadia Christian, Jorge Abreu

Collin County is leading the Metroplex in job growth, which means that there will need to be additional housing in the area. Rising single-family home prices have helped with multifamily absorption, with sellers seeing 3-5% cap rates, the group highlighted. In some cases, rents can be higher than mortgages due to economic pressures and demand. 

While there are currently 26,700 new units under construction across the Metroplex, some developers are facing headwinds. For instance, municipalities with strict zoning guidelines — where detached single-family homes are favored — cause a longer lead time with entitlements. Developers have to present plans to residents of a community and in many cases, “follow the vision for the city.” 

Other trends that are challenging new multifamily development across the Metroplex are generational changes and cost of living. As some groups resist change and new development, it can put more pressure on the market, elevating the need for more affordable housing. However, Collin County has a remarkable opportunity to build a working community and set a new precedent. The challenge becomes getting it right. Collin County has already established a reputation apart from the Dallas-Fort Worth area as its own “brand.”

The time to scale up infrastructure and master planning is now

During the third panel, the group discussed themes related to the area’s infrastructure, major developments, recreation amenities, and planning for the future. 

Panelists included Peter J. Braster, Director of Special Projects for the City of Plano; Jason Ford, CEcD, President of the Frisco Economic Development Corporation; Joe Hickman, General Manager at Blue Star Land, LP; Mehrdad Moayedi, President and CEO of Centurion American Development Group; Clay Roby, Managing Director at Stillwater Capital; Lucy Billingsley, Partner with the Billingsley Company; and Michael Swaldi, Senior Managing Director at JLL Capital Markets.

This panel was moderated by Jeff Johnson, CEO of REjournals.

Collin County is “spiraling up,” but this means that major infrastructure projects, such as the expansion of the North Dallas Tollway, are crucial for the region. Cities need to be aggressive and forward-looking when it comes to infrastructure development or there could be bottlenecks — or worse, a stalling-out — of growth. While there’s a traditional trope that the private sector moves faster than the public sector, there’s an opportunity for Collin County to buck that trend. 

Pictured from L to R: Mehrdad Moayadi, Peter J. Braster, Joe Hickman, Jason Ford , Michael C. Swaldi,  Lucy Billingsley, Clay Roby

“Frisco is located within both Denton and Collin Counties,” said Jason Ford, president, Frisco Economic Development Corporation. “And, the PGA’s new headquarters and resort is strategically located in the Denton County side of Frisco. We anticipate that the PGA will have a tremendous regional economic impact that spurs regional growth and development across both Denton County, Collin County and areas far beyond for years to come.”

The emergence from the pandemic is the perfect opportunity to come up with new and fresh ideas for Collin County communities in terms of amenities and overall quality of life. Building new parks, hiking and biking trails, and other recreational amenities are just one piece of the equation. Looking at planning from a more holistic perspective, where creating a complete community that meets everyone’s needs, will lead to success.

The quickly increasing cost of living is having an impact on lower-earning families across Collin County, but there are opportunities to not only build new but to repurpose existing structures in order to add more housing and office space more quickly. While some companies are still waiting on the sidelines to see how things shake out with the pandemic, they may be missing their moment. The time to jump in and participate in planning and development is right now. 

Exponential growth is real, and it’s here

The fourth and final panel featured Daniel Bowman, Executive Director/CEO of the Allen Economic Development Corporation; Rex Glendenning, broker and owner of Rex Real Estate; Joey Grisham, Economic Development Director for the Anna Economic Development Corp.; Alexis Jackson, Director of Celina EDC; Peter Tokar III, President & CEO of McKinney Economic Development Corporation; and Carl Pankratz, President and Managing Director at Blackacre Commercial. 

The final panel was also moderated by REjournals’ own Jeff Johnson.

Collin County has a great problem: the area has had 100% growth in ten years. But the flood of new residents and the evolving circumstances impacting the workplace are raising the bar in city planning. There is one major theme and question which should lead master planning and community development, which is, how does Collin County become the next next-gen county?

For example, incoming residents of McKinney in desirable corporate workforces are joining long-time residents in the county’s small rural communities. These existing residents may suddenly find themselves in an urban environment as the area quickly develops. So how do you balance the mix and meet the needs of both old and new residents?

This is where the role of economic development councils comes in. Economic development councils make investments and deals not to compete with private developers but to steer development in a balanced way. Convention centers, hotels, entertainment venues, community colleges, medical projects, and manufacturers are also being wooed. Meanwhile, developers are being encouraged to put in roads at their expense against future impact fee credit, in order to help the cities where they are doing projects.

S2 Capital Becomes Largest Multifamily Buyer in Texas Over the Past 24 Months

S2 Capital is now the largest multifamily buyer in Texas with its latest four-property acquisition, bringing its total number of units in the Lone Star State to 16,000.

The four-property transaction, totaling 1,893 units, includes Hyde Park at Montfort in Dallas (662 units), Twin Creeks Crossing I (347 units) and Twin Creeks Crossing II (330 units) in Allen, and Tintara at Canyon Creek in Austin (554 units).

S2 plans to spend more than $7.2 million on renovations at the Tintara at Canyon Creek property, some of which include upgrading the pool, leasing office, gym, flooring, appliances and countertops. Additionally, S2 will spend more than $6.6 million on Hyde Park at Montfort renovations, including upgrading finishes to balcony fencing and railing, landscaping and the swimming pool exterior, while implementing new flooring and materials on the interiors.

“When Covid first hit, S2 quickly recognized that the market trends we witnessed in Texas and the Sunbelt pre-pandemic were going to dramatically accelerate in a post-pandemic environment,” said S2 Capital CEO Scott Everett. “The 10-Year Treasury spread to cap rates jumped 300 basis points overnight and we started buying as much as we could handle. I’m very proud of our team’s ability to acquire 13,000 units totaling $2.5 billion in the past 24 months, and we have no plans of slowing down.”

Taylor Snoddy, James Roberts and Philip Wiegand of NorthMarq’s Dallas investment sales team represented the seller of the transaction, which closed on Sept. 30. NorthMarq’s Dallas Debt/Equity team of Executive Vice President/Executive Managing Director Jeffrey Erxleben, Senior Vice President Lauren Bresky, Vice President Kevin Leamy, and Investment Analyst Loren Heikenfeld arranged floating rate debt that was heavily tailored to the sponsors business plan.

“This was a true team effort for TKG/Provident, S2 Capital and NorthMarq,” said NorthMarq Senior Vice President James Roberts. “The seller had amassed a sizeable portfolio of assets spanning multiple markets and product types which was very appealing to S2. This sale rounds out over $1 billion for our Dallas team in September which speaks to investor appetite for multifamily in Texas.”

“The sponsor elected to go with Blackstone as their balance sheet bridge lender who offered certainty of execution at very attractive terms,” Erxleben said. “The quality of this portfolio and Sponsor aided our ability to deliver a market leading financing.”

S2 currently has $1.1 billion under contract to sell between now and Dec. 1 across 21 deals resulting in a blended net internal rate of return for its investors of 41% and a 2.4 LP MOIC. S2 will transact on $4 billion this year across 54 transactions.

Parkside at Craig Ranch Acquired by Harbert Funds

Birmingham, AL, October 5, 2021 – Harbert United States Real Estate Fund VII, L.P., along with its parallel fund (“HUSREF VII” or the “Fund”), together with Harbert Parkside Co-Investor, L.P., a Fund-sponsored co-investment vehicle, has closed on the acquisition of Parkside at Craig Ranch (“Parkside” or the “Property”), a unique, 1,824 unit, class A multifamily property located in the acclaimed 121 Corridor of Dallas-Fort Worth. The Property presents a compelling risk-adjusted opportunity to create value in a rapidly growing and high-quality submarket. Developed in five phases between 2013 and 2021, the Property features market-leading amenities in a one-of-a-kind lifestyle environment that is difficult to replicate.

Parkside is part of a 2,200-acre master-planned, mixed-use development that provides great livability between the booming suburbs of McKinney and Allen. The Property’s location in Craig Ranch and the heart of the 121 Corridor is proximate to numerous large employment centers and adjacent to significant new mixed-use developments including HUB 121, District 121, and McKinney Corporate Center.

HUSREF VII’s renovation strategy will be light in nature, focusing on modernizing the interiors of Phase I and upgrading the technology throughout the Property. Most importantly, management plans to prioritize building a sense of community at Parkside through an extensive combination of on-site amenities, social events and tenant services. The property management effort will be led by BH Management Services. Click to read more at www.harbert.net.

Leasing Momentum continues, Driving Record Occupancy Gains

• Leasing volume reached 10 million s.f. in Q3, bringing the year-to-date total to 31 million s.f.
• Consistently high demand resulted in 9.5 million s.f. of quarterly net absorption, a figure which matches the 10-year annual average
• Total vacancy declined for a third consecutive quarter and fell to 8.6%
• Deliveries for the quarter hit 8.1 million s.f. and were 83.2% preleased due to owner-user and build-to-suit completions

Houston’s industrial market continued to move at a rapid pace with another strong quarter of demand. Leasing activity was led by Chewy.com’s entry to Houston with a 690,000-s.f. deal at Northpoint 90 Logistics Center and an expansion in the market by an e-commerce user for 629,186 s.f. at Prologis Presidents Park, both of which were build to suits. Four consecutive quarters of robust leasing volume led to a flurry of move-ins from both a new and expanding tenant base, largely in first-generation product. Notable completions included a 1.5-million-s.f. build to suit for Lowe’s in New Caney, 1.9 million s.f. across two projects for an e-commerce company in the Southwest and 1.3 million s.f in two buildings in the North and Northwest submarkets for Home Depot. These companies, among many others, drove Q3 net absorption to 9.5 million s.f., and this momentum is expected to continue through the final quarter of the year. Given the volume of occupancy gains, vacancy dropped 40 basis points quarter-over-quarter to 8.6%. Demand is ahead of supply year to date, a trend which should carry through the close of 2021. Construction activity decreased 15.5% to 11.9 million s.f. despite 5.6 million s.f. of new groundbreakings. Rising materials costs and supply chain issues are still causing some delays, but several new building parks are poised to break ground in early Q4, and even more are in permitting and design phases for early 2022. Additionally, the flight to quality and appetite for new construction are driving an increase in asking rents across the metro. Click to read more at www.us.jll.com.