Bridging the Gap:  How the I-35 Corridor is Changing the Face of Texas

The I-35 corridor is home to beautiful, quaint towns.  The pace of life is a little bit slower, and the people are just a bit friendlier.  The stretch of road between Austin and San Antonio boasts beautiful landscapes, plenty of recreational activities and is a favorite spot for folks to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the surrounding “big” cities.

The population growth in this area over the past two years has been off the charts.  San Marcos was ranked as one of the fastest growing cities in the nation.  Not only are people moving to the San Marcos region, but big companies are taking notice as well.  Adriana Cruz, who is the President of the Greater San Marcos Partnership explains, “We are in a very strategic location.  We are right between San Antonio and Austin, basically midway between the seventh and the eleventh largest cities in the country.”

The Greater San Marcos Partnership has been operating for the past three years with a main focus on developing an economic strategy for the region, their main goal being to improve the economic vitality for everyone that lives in, or does business in the two-county footprint.  Ms. Cruz went on to say that their efforts are not short term.  “We have a five year development strategy that focuses on marketing and promotion, business recruitment, and business retention or expansion.  It isn’t just one project, or one event.  It’s where public policy and business intersect.”

The amount of money being invested into the region is also staggering, but absolutely necessary.  In just the past 10 years alone, Hays County built $500 million in road infrastructure.  According to Patrick Rose, President and founder of Corridor Title, that number doesn’t even include bike paths or sidewalks.  That is just true infrastructure designed to make all of this growth possible.   The idea is to make the area accessible, and viewed as one region.  “The sooner we all get there and associate our businesses and our mindset around that, the better off we will be not only individually, but as a region,” said Rose.

PULL QUOTE:  In just the past 10 years alone, Hays County built $500 million in road infrastructure. 

Lise Wineland and Brian Allison have an intimate knowledge of the area and they say all of this activity means big opportunities for businesses to come to Texas, and specifically the San Marcos area.  “There are a number of reasons we have seen such great success in these communities.  In fact, the area has become a magnet for more population growth, making this region very attractive to businesses, bringing more jobs, and more people right along with them.”

Ms. Wineland and Mr. Allison continued by sharing that as of April 2014, the unemployment rates in Texas were 5.7%, compared to the national average of 7.1%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics.

“When the numbers are added up, this region boasts an exploding economy with enviable unemployment rates.  The I-35 corridor’s survival through the recession, and its thriving economy since the turn-around, is due in large part to the businesses that have remained, working in sync with the various surrounding industries to provide jobs and a wealth of services to entice both long time residents and transplants to reinvest themselves into the region,” said the pair.

There is no question that this region should be on the top of the list when big businesses are looking to relocate.  A young, educated population, business-friendly, low-tax and low-regulation climate makes it extremely attractive.  Throw in the charming people that can only be found in Texas, it seems like a pretty easy decision for businesses, but where does that leave the people that already live there?

The thing about growth, especially at such a rapid pace, is that it can be unnerving for the residents.  They start seeing cranes, construction, and change so they get scared.  They wonder what is happening to their beloved neighborhood.  We have all seen it before; we may even be seeing it in our own backyards right now as the rest of Texas is also seeing strong economic growth.  There is a difference in this region.  The people that are making it happen have deep roots in the region.  All of the planning and the work come from a place of wanting to see every citizen happy.  They haven’t lost focus on the quality of life.

REDNews had the opportunity to see this first hand during the CCIM and CTCAR joint luncheon at the end of June.  Adriana Cruz and Patrick Rose were among the speakers, and their passion for the area was more than evident, it was contagious…and then, it went over the top.

A gentleman by the name of Peter French came to the podium.  Peter is a Social Entrepreneur whose career is very diverse.  He is currently serving as the Director of Operations for a development called Plum Creek.  To say that Mr. French is excited about the opportunities presented by the I-35 expansion would be an understatement.

Plum Creek is a 2,200 acre mixed-use development located in Kyle, Texas.  According to their website, www.PlumCreekTX.com, Plum Creek is about being connected.  Modeled after the best neighborhoods in Austin, it’s about driving less, and doing more.

As we listened to Mr. French speak, we were further drawn into this lifestyle that can only be found in places like the San Marcos region, and only with people with such passion behind it leading the charge.  The developers behind Plum Creek are all about making places that people want to live.  Tree-lined streets, shopping and entertainment within close proximity, and even schools and medical centers nearby.  It’s about the quality of life, without really messing with the way of life the hill country is uniquely known for, but truly enhancing it.

Even as this article is written, we keep being taken right back to one idea that was passed on to us by Mr. Patrick Rose.  The idea, as interpreted by this REDNews writer, that San Antonio, Austin and everywhere in between can be one region.  A region full of promising futures for generations to come.  A region where corporate businesses are thriving, bringing jobs and more opportunities for the people that live there.  Where anything is possible, and everything is attainable.

PULL QUOTE:  The people that are making it happen have deep roots in the region.



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REDNews would like to thank Lise Wineland, CCIM, LEED® AP, and Brian Allison for their contributions to this article.  Ms. Wineland and Mr. Allison  are a senior director and a senior associate respectively with the brokerage group of global real estate investment and services company Kennedy Wilson.  Based in the Austin office, Wineland is an industry expert in investments, sales and sustainable commercial real estate.  Based in the San Antonio office, Allison has more than 15 years of experience in commercial real estate specializing in industrial and land.