The July 2019 Real Estate News Roundup

Even with a slight slowdown in the pace of housing starts year over year, the Austin real estate world doesn’t take a breather. For example. Austinites will soon be making tacos in their own apartments at the site of Jovita’s, as the property that once housed the legendary restaurant becomes a four-story residential building. 

Look for another outdoor festival space north of the Capitol building, and if you’d like to live in a game-shaped building, now’s the time to move into the Jenga!

As always, there’s also news in celebrity real estate — read on to learn more!

Jovita’s Site to Become Apartment Complex

The site of the once-very-popular Jovita’s Mexican restaurant, acquired by Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez in 2016, will become a multifamily development.  The four-story apartment building at 1613 and 1615 S. First St. will have 41 to 44 units. The building will be developed by Chameleon Cos, and Austin firm Bercy Chen Studio, known for its distinctive and contemporary buildings, is the designer.

New Community for Severely Injured Vets Planned

Three Georgetown residents are planning to build a community for severely injured veterans. The Purple Heart Integration Project will include homes specially designed for veterans and will provide skills training for high-tech jobs. The 80 homes will range from 400 to 1,200 square feet. An 8,000-square-foot facility will have rooms for tech training, a co-working space, a computer lab and a health clinic.


Home Starts Down Year Over Year

The pace of new homebuilding slowed in the second quarter of 2019, as compared to the same quarter of 2018, according to Metrostudy, a firm that tracks home starts in the Austin region from Georgetown to San Marcos. Builders started construction on 4,119 houses from April through June this year, a decrease of 7% from 4,413 in the same period last year. Looking at annual starts, work started on 16,404 new homes in the 12 months that ended in June, down 1% from the 12 months that ended in June 2018.

Area North of Capitol Being Redeveloped

Four blocks of Congress Avenue immediately north of the Capitol are being transformed in an $895 million development that will include 1.5 million square feet of space in four new state buildings. The goal of the new space is to consolidate some of the thousands of state employees who work in rented buildings throughout Austin. The development will also include a pedestrian-friendly promenade for public gatherings and festivals that will stretch from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to 15th Street.

“Jenga” Tower Welcoming its First Residents

Arguably Austin’s most-talked about building, the 58-story Independent condominium high rise saw its first homeowners move in in July. Nicknamed “the Jenga Building” because of its offset design that is reminiscent of the popular building game, the tower is Austin’s tallest, and the tallest residential building west of the Mississippi River. The downtown “vertical neighborhood” is comprised of 363 residences and makes a distinctive addition to Austin’s skyline.

The Home of a Champion

Former boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard has put his 2-acre home in Pacific Palisades, Calif., on the market for $52 million. He purchased 16,700-square-foot for less than $10 million in 1993. The estate features a main home with seven bedrooms, a two-story guest house, a swimming pool and tennis court. Leonard, who won numerous world titles, retired in the late 1990s.

Ellen and Portia’s House is Going, Going, Gone!

In other celebrity news, talk show host and serial home flipper Ellen DeGeneres sold her 1-acre Carpinteria, Calif., beachfront estate recently. DeGeneres and her wife, Portia de Rossi, listed the property for $24 million in mid-July, a 29 percent increase from the $18.6 million they paid for the home less than two years ago. The property includes a 6,860-square-foot home with 4 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, a guest house and a tennis court.