Austin’s September Real Estate News Roundup

Austin’s home sales and economic expansion cooled from white hot to red hot over the past few months.

Meanwhile, the rising cost of real estate in Austin has dominated the mayor and city council election news as candidates seek to differentiate themselves in the lead up to the Nov. 4 General Election. (Find your district here.)

September also brought news of a proposal for a major development in north-central Austin, plans for downtown’s second-tallest high rise and a pitch for a massive downtown development in Pflugerville.

Here are some of the biggest stories in Austin-area real estate in September.

Economic expansion slowed in Austin: After a few years of enviable economic growth, Austin’s economic wheels slowed in 2013, according to new data reported in the Austin American-Statesman. But Austin isn’t alone. All of Texas’ major metropolitan areas saw a slower growth rate, some of which the article attributed to state and federal budget cuts.

Mayoral candidates and council members talk housing affordability: Candidates have been grabbing headlines with their pitches to ease the growing cost of housing, which has left many mid- and lower-income residents unable to afford rising prices. Plans include a homestead exemption that would trim the taxable value of homes; reducing regulations and expediting permitting for smaller homes and small backyard residences. Read more here.

Big development planned for north MoPac at Spicewood Springs: The plan by Spire Realty Group LLP would involve 610 residential units, 850,000 square feet of office space and 100,000 square feet of retail, the Austin Business Journal reported. That’s one big development plan for the area, and it would likely replace the older office buildings currently there. And the Austin American-Statesman reported that some experts think it could set off a flashfire of development in the area.

A world of possibilities emerging for prime north-central Austin government land: The state is getting ready to offload a 75-acre tract at 45th Street and Bull Creek Road. And there are plenty of interested parties. The City of Austin is mulling the possibilities. And the Austin-American Statesman reported that H-E-B and a major hotel developer, Austin-based Stratus Properties, are interested in bidding as well, potentially to build a neighborhood grocery store and mixed-use development.

50-story skyscraper planned downtown would be city’s second tallest: There’s no shortage of construction cranes in Austin’s skyline. But one might go much higher than the others at Third Street and West Avenue. The Austin American-Statesman reported that Constructive Ventures and Aspen Heights plan to build the tower to house about 400 condos, 120,000 square feet of office space and 15,000 square feet of shops and restaurants.

Pint-sized apartments pondered, city planners oppose: The idea of allowing super small apartments without requiring a parking spot for each resident has found some opposition in city hall. The Austin Monitor reported that a city panel balked at the idea, mostly because they think Austin may not be dense enough to have a lot of residents who don’t already have cars and the city may not have convenient enough public transit to succeed like other cities, such as New York City, have.

59 acres on Lake Travis purchased, maybe condos?: A Houston company bought a prime 59-acre lot on the north side of Lake Travis. It’s unclear what may be planned for the location, according to a story in the Austin Business Journal. But existing zoning and plans allow for 225 condos, a dry stack marina, a floating marina, a restaurant, bar and other commercial space.

Major project in Pflugerville: Developers have unveiled a plan to transform Pflugerville with a huge mixed-use project at SH130 and Pflugerville Parkway, according to Community Impact News. The ambitious Sunshine Village project would include restaurants, office buildings, hotels, retail shops, park space and a town hall, the newspaper reporter. But that may hinge on some city tax incentives.