Revised Apple campus site plan in Northwest Austin includes new 6-story hotel

A revised site plan submitted earlier this year by Apple Inc. includes a new 6-story hotel at the technology giant’s upcoming Northwest Austin campus. The new plan, approved by the city on April 29, includes a map that shows the new 75,500-square-foot hotel at the intersection of Dallas Drive and West Parmer Lane. According to the revised site plan, this new hotel will feature 192 rooms. No hotel brand is listed on the new site plan documents. Apple originally unveiled its plans in December 2018 for its newest campus, located at 6900 W. Parmer Lane on a 133-acre tract of land in the Williamson County portion of Northwest Austin on the roughly 8,000-acre Robinson Ranch property. At that time, Kristina Raspe, Apple’s vice president of local real estate, said the first buildings at this campus will begin operations sometime in 2021. On Nov. 20 of last year, Apple announced it broke ground on its new $1 billion campus and updated its timeline for opening the first buildings to 2022. Click to read more at www.communityimpact.com.

Rent Growth Likely to Slow as Uncertainty from COVID-19 Looms Over the Market

Prior to the March onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and related virus control measures bringing business across the state to a halt, the Austin office market witnessed some softening in availability as asking rents continued to push higher. At the end of the first quarter, the overall average asking rent stood at $39.28 per square foot (psf), reflecting annual (9.2%) and quarterly (2.4%) increases. Class A asking rents increased by 5.8% over the year to $42.93 psf. Central Business District and suburban asking rents increased by 6.7% and 7.7% year over year through the first quarter, respectively. As the market adjusts itself to the shifts that COVID-19 has created, rental rate growth is expected to slow. Downward pressure is likely to come from an influx of sublease space on the market as venture-capitalfunded technology companies implement cost-saving measures. Availability rates see year over year softening and are expected to continue to rise as COVID-19 reality sets in Austin’s overall availability rate increased by 10 basis points over the quarter, and 280 basis points year over year, to 13.8% in the first quarter of 2020. In comparison, the average Class A availability rate declined 20 basis points over the quarter, but is still up 430 basis points on an annual basis (14.9%). Market fundamentals differ some in the core and surrounding markets, the Central Business District availability rate rose by 200 basis points to 11.1%, while the average suburban availability rate declined by 30 basis points, to 14.5%. Click to read more at www.savills.us.

The Texas real estate market is headed for a slowdown. The question is for how long.

As Texans adjust to life under orders to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic — and scramble to cover expenses with incomes that were drastically cut or abruptly shut off — housing and real estate experts say it’s hard to predict what the parallel public health and economic crises will do to home values and sales. A lot depends on how long the twin troubles last. “We definitely will have a slowdown, but the question is how much and how long,” said Scott Norman, executive director of the Texas Association of Builders. That’s a sudden about-face for what had been, until now, one of the most dynamic real estate markets in the country. The state has had five consecutive years breaking records in terms of numbers of houses sold and median prices, according to Texas Realtors. And Texas’ home building industry has been solid, too; no other state had more building permits in 2019, according to census data. Luis Torres, an economist with the Texas A&M Real Estate Center, said the housing sector can be a barometer for the economy as a whole because it affects jobs of laborers, builders, Realtors and a litany of other professions. “And it has a multiplier effect into the rest of the economy, from moving companies to furniture stores,” Torres said. Already, experts are seeing slowdowns in home showings — which are now largely done virtually — and expect that permits for new construction might also drop. For regions whose residents rely largely on the energy industry for work, like Houston or the Permian Basin, or on cross-border trade, like the Rio Grande Valley, home values and sales may dip more than in other Texas regions. Click to read more at www.news-journal.com.

South Congress Avenue Sees Development, National Retail Move In

Shortly after Home Slice Pizza opened on South Congress Avenue in November 2005, the power went out. The gas pizza ovens did not rely on electricity, so co-owners Terri Hannifin and Jen Strickland decided to stay open. They found enough flashlights to make sure the kitchen was safe and asked an employee to bring in a guitar. A customer who lived in the neighborhood ran home and brought back a bag of candles. Over the past 14 years, the development of the power grid is just one of many changes along the corridor, business owners said. Many local businesses—including antique store Uncommon Objects, which opened in 1991 and relocated in 2017—have been priced out due to sharply rising property values. Click to read more at www.communityimpact.com.

Austin real estate brokerage strives to become hot spot for downtown art shows

Residential real estate brokerages aren’t typically located in prime downtown storefront space, but Austin has at least two enterprises with that appealing amenity.

Urbanspace, owned by Kevin Burns, operates expansive offices on West Fifth Street, which includes an interior design practice and home furnishings, while DEN Property Group at West Third and Guadalupe streets is both an office and an art gallery that includes selected compositions for sale.

Click to read more at Austin Business Journal. 

Co-Op District awaits regulatory OK; Mixed-use project aims at ‘sleepy little town’ north of Austin

Williamson County and Hutto are working to finalize an economic development deal for the mixed-use Co-Op District, a 25-acre development that could create a new economic focal point in the small town northeast of Austin.

Plans call for a new city hall, library and private development such as apartments, restaurants, retail and office space, a movie theater and a hotel north of Highway 79 and west of downtown Hutto. In other words, it could be a pivotal step for the rapidly growing suburban community.

County commissioners are considering whether to create a special taxation zone for the project. Although they did not vote on the measure at their Tuesday meeting, County Judge Dan Gattis signaled the measure has support.

Click to read more at Austin Business Journal.