Williamson County Officials Make Final Moves Toward Landing $17B Samsung Facility

One of the largest economic development projects in the history of Texas is close to being built in Williamson County.

Larger than any single corporate enterprise in Central Texas before it, Samsung is expected to build a 6 million-square-foot facility that will bring 1,800 higher-paying jobs to the area.

The project includes $6 billion in infrastructure, land and building costs and $11 billion worth of personal property, machinery and equipment. The approximately 1,288 acres of property for the project is south of Hwy. 79 and west of FM 973, southwest of downtown Taylor.

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell Jr. on Sept. 7 told Community Impact Newspaper negotiations and work on the project have been accomplished daily since January, when county officials hosted Samsung executives at Dell Diamond in Round Rock.

“What we have to offer is the perfect combination of outstanding schools, safe communities and quality of life,” Gravell said. “We have an existing world-class workforce and an ecosystem around it.”

Gravell said along with the Samsung jobs, thousands of contractors will also work at the facility. According to Williamson County, the project will also provide 6,500-10,000 direct construction jobs while the plant is being built, and Gravell said the existing Samsung plant in North Austin off Parmer Lane served as motivation to work to attract that kind of largescale economic mobility. Click to read more at www.communityimpact.com.

As Austin’s Rezoning of UT Lands Continues, Time Could be Running Out for Muny Course Preservation

A city-led rezoning process that could determine whether Lions Municipal Golf Course will remain in operation on Austin’s west side is continuing, while landowner The University of Texas is potentially eyeing the historic site’s redevelopment.

The city has been working for months to rezone four separate UT-owned tracts after Austin City Council initiated a process to set “appropriate uses” for the properties last December. The lands, including the Lions course, or Muny, are longtime UT assets, but new zoning recommendations for the properties are being developed by city staff.

The largest of the four areas in question are the Brackenridge tracts, including the 141-acre Muny, the West Austin Youth Association’s facilities, and dozens of acres along the Colorado River now home to a university apartment complex and field laboratory. The nearby Gateway Apartments property off West Sixth Street, the West Pickle Research Campus off MoPac to the north and the Montopolis Research Center on Montopolis Drive are also set to be rezoned. Click to read more at www.communityimpact.com.

San Antonio Office Market Remains Steady Despite Ongoing Pandemic Conditions

While other major cities across the country have witnessed dramatic upticks in office vacancy due to the pandemic and changing nature of the workplace, the office market in San Antonio has remained relatively steady throughout the last couple of years. The market has performed well enough in the last quarter, that San Antonio was listed as one of the top 10 office markets in the country by the National Association of REALTORS.

The most recent office vacancy figure for San Antonio sits just below 11%, according to a Q3 report from NAI Partners. While not exactly the strongest number, the one thing that San Antonio can boast is consistency. Over the last ten years, the San Antonio office market has ebbed and flowed between 9% and 12% total office vacancy. The highest vacancy level was in 2012, during the Great Recession, while the low was in 2018 as the country’s real estate market was booming.

Essentially, San Antonio hasn’t had to face the challenge of having a major glut of vacant office space like other major cities have.

A positive sign is the fact that San Antonio’s vacancy has decreased in last quarter, inching just below the 11% threshold. According to the NAI Partners report, leasing volume increased by 45% quarter-over-quarter with 700,000 square feet of office claimed during that period. Net absorption in the third quarter was around 8%, or roughly 390,000 square feet. Another 203,000 square feet of new office product was delivered in Q3 2021.

The NAI Partners report credits San Antonio’s stability to the quick economy recovery across Texas. While many other major metros witnessed ongoing stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns, Texas reopened quickly, giving its economy a head start on recovery. The National Association of REALTORS points to San Antonio’s close proximity to the booming (and expensive) Austin market.

But there could be much more growth in San Antonio in the coming years as Austin becomes too crowded and prohibitively expensive. NAI Partners highlights Tesla’s move from Palo Alto, California to Austin as a major boost to the regional economy and expansion of the Texas auto industry. Toyota and Navistar currently have a presence in San Antonio and the city is well-positioned to more investment in manufacturing and corporate offices in the near future.

Austin Slips 2 Spots Among Country’s Hottest Commercial Real Estate Markets

Austin has lost a bit of its luster on an annual list of the country’s hottest commercial real estate markets.

The latest Emerging Trends in Real Estate report from professional services firm PwC and the nonprofit Urban Land Institute puts Austin at No. 4 among the U.S. commercial real estate markets to watch in 2022. Austin ranked second in last year’s report and first in the 2019 report. Since 2010, Austin has appeared at No. 7 or above in the closely watched Emerging Trends report.

The report, released October 14, bases its rankings on interviews with hundreds of commercial real estate professionals.

The report groups Austin with four other metro areas in a first-time category called “supernovas.” The four others are Nashville; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Boise, Idaho; and Jacksonville, Florida.

“In astronomy, a supernova is the explosion of a star that creates unusual brilliance, but more generally the term refers to things that explode into prominence or popularity. So it is with the five metro areas in this new category,” according to the report.

“Austin has long been among the brightest stars in the constellation and a darling for investors and developers alike, first breaking into the [top 10] markets to watch in 2009,” the report adds. Click to read more at www.austin.culturemap.com.

“No Place You’d Rather Be”: Economic Development Organizations Capitalize on Lure of Texas

New numbers from the 2020 U.S. Census reveal what so many of us in Texas knew already: More people are moving here than any other state in the country. The appeal is clear. Texas offers a business-friendly environment, along with an affordable cost of living, making it ideal for corporations and their employees. Bringing businesses to the Lone Star State is the easy part. Choosing which community to call home base can be a challenge. That’s where economic development organizations, like the Dallas Regional Chamber, come in.

DALLAS

“The DRC works closely with regional cities and the business community to attract significant corporate locations and expansions to the region,” says Mike Rosa, DRC’s senior vice president of economic development. “Six Fortune 500 headquarters have relocated here in the past six years, along with many other headquarters, office, and industrial projects.” Two of the most recent relocations are financial services giant Charles Schwab and infrastructure firm AECOM. “The Dallas region continues to lead the nation in population and job growth, providing fuel for the commercial real estate market,” Rosa says. “There’s no place you’d rather be in business today or in the future than Dallas.” To continue that success, the DRC also works on education, workforce, transportation, quality of life and other fundamental issues important to all the people who live in the region, as well as to existing and future companies. “We are targeting corporate headquarters and technology companies,” says Rosa. “DFW is attractive to lots of sector and project types, so we’re not limited in our range of possibilities.”

SOUTH TEXAS

At the other tip of Texas, the Rio Grande Valley Partnership drives collaboration and investment across its four-county region, which include Starr, Hidalgo, Willacy and Cameron counties. “We engage with economic development corporations by bringing investors, developers and bankers into each one of our communities to highlight the opportunities there,” says RGV Partnership president Sergio Contreras. “That way, investors can have a clear picture of the local incentives and targeted industries by the local communities.” The opportunities in the Valley are many, according to Conteras. Click to read more at www.rednews.com.

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 www.morningbrew.com.