Austin City Council Approves 60-Day ‘Grace Period’ For Owed Rent

Austin tenants affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic have 60 days to come up with owed rent once a landlord starts threatening eviction. With a unanimous vote Thursday, council members approved an ordinance adding another step to the eviction process, thereby slowing a potential force-out of tenants unable to pay rent because their wages have dried up. It goes into effect immediately and applies to both residential and commercial properties. “No one should lose their home during the pandemic,” Council Member Greg Casar, who brought the item forward, said. “It’s wrong and it’s also terrible for public health.” There had been confusion on behalf of renters and landlords about how to move forward amid staggering unemployment. Some landlords have begun offering payment plans to those affected by the coronavirus, while others have reiterated that rent is due in full. Before council’s vote, landlords could still file evictions against tenants, although Travis County judges are not hearing these cases. Judges have suspended eviction hearings until at least May 9. The new rule buys renters time by adding a step to the eviction process, which typically begins when a landlord posts a “notice to vacate” sign on a tenant’s door. This indicates the intent to file an eviction with the courts within days unless the tenant pays rent or moves out. Click to read more at www.kut.org.

Austin outranks major West Coast city in new projection of office job growth

It’s Bat City versus the City by the Bay in a new projection for the growth of office jobs in 2020. Commercial real estate services company CBRE predicts Austin will see a 2.6 percent rise in office jobs this year compared with last year. That puts Austin in first place for anticipated office-job growth in 2020 among U.S. markets with at least 37.5 million square feet of office space. Office jobs include those in the tech, professional services, and legal sectors. Austin edges out San Francisco for the top spot in CBRE’s forecast, published January 9. The company predicts a 2.5 percent increase in San Francisco office jobs this year versus last year. Personal finance website WalletHub recently ranked San Francisco and Austin third and fourth, respectively, on its list of the U.S. best cities to find a job. “It’s not surprising that the forecast for Austin is extremely bright, and we expect that technology companies and professional firms will still drive the demand for more [offices],” Troy Holme, executive vice president in the Austin office of CBRE, says in a January 22 release. Click to read more at www.austinculturemap.com.

McAllen On The Move

A powerhouse city. Boomtown. The epicenter of the Rio Grande Valley. There are plenty of ways to describe McAllen, Texas, but they all have one
thing in common: growth. “With the volume of consumers that comes in to
McAllen daily, our city has developed a robust economy,” says Rebecca Olaguibel, the city’s Director of Retail and Business Development. The numbers are incredible for a city its size. With a population of around 140,000, McAllen generates more than $3 billion in gross retail sales thanks to 18 million people (an average of 39,000 people per day) who visit the city every year. It’s just 10 miles north of the Mexican border, so international visitors flow through it via McAllen International Airport and the two international bridges managed by the city. “It’s truly a geographic jackpot,” says Olaguibel, who has worked for the City of McAllen for 12 years. Its retail offerings are part of the draw of McAllen, making it the premiere shopping destination in South Texas and northern Mexico. While new
shopping centers and big box retailers open up new locations there, city leaders say it’s important to recognize the critical role small businesses play in the overall success of McAllen. Click to read more at www.rednews.com.

Texas To Provide Microsoft $4.9M Grant As Part of Las Colinas Workforce Expansion

Texas has awarded Microsoft Corporation a nearly $4.9 million grant as part of economic incentive deal that will bring hundreds of new jobs to the company’s Las Colinas office. Microsoft is expanding its operations in Las Colinas with $31 million in investments and the creation of 575 new jobs, according to a news release from the office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. The grant comes from the state’s Texas Enterprise Fund, which is a “deal-closing” grant for companies considering investments in Texas, according to the Governor’s Business and Community Development Division. “We are excited that Microsoft has renewed its commitment to Irving-Las Colinas and believe it’s a testament to our business-friendly climate and high quality of life for companies and their employees,” Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer said in the release. “As a valuable corporate stakeholder in our community, we look forward to working with Microsoft as it builds [its] workforce and creates thousands of valuable technology jobs in Irving.” Click to read more at www.communityimpact.com.

TEXAS JOB FORECAST

DALLAS – Texas employment will grow 2.1 percent this year, according to the Texas Employment Forecast by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Based on the forecast, the state will add 263,700 jobs this year. Employment in December 2019 will reach 12.9 million. This prediction comes after incorporating September 2019’s annualized employment growth of 0.7 percent and a decrease in the leading index. “After strong growth in June and July, Texas jobs decelerated in August and September,” said Keith R. Phillips, Dallas Fed assistant vice president, and senior economist. “The weakness in oil and gas extraction is spilling over to other sectors such as transportation and warehousing, which experienced job losses in both August and September. “Manufacturing employment continues to grow at a good pace, however, in part driven by continued strength in petrochemical and refining activity. Construction activity also remains robust.” Click to read more at www.recenter.tamu.edu.

The FBI Raid Of Texas Real Estate Investor Nate Paul

This week, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation descended unannounced on the home and business of Nate Paul, a young Texas real estate investor who became known for buying up prominent real estate assets in the state capital of Austin. The FBI confirmed the raids to Forbes but declined to specify the nature of its search at Paul’s sprawling 9,175-square-foot Austin home or the downtown Austin offices of his World Class Holdings. Local media reported FBI agents were spotted leaving World Class’ offices with documents. Paul, 32, and World-Class Holdings, were the subject of a complimentary Forbes article in 2017, which described how Paul had snapped up commercial real estate in Austin, including valuable downtown locations and 3M’s 158-acre campus, and built a large self-storage company with 60 or so sites across the nation. Click to read more at www.forbes.com.