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Real Estate Bisnow (Austin/San Antonio)

On Hold Since 1982, Shovels Finally Ready

If patience is a virtue, then there's a special place in heaven for Highland Resources' mixed-use project, delivering September 2015. Highland has been holding this land in Austin for redevelopment since 1982. (That year, Annie with Carol Burnett came out. Now, Annie with Cameron Diaz is coming, so everyone realized it was time to start building.)

HR investment officer Welden Johnston and prez/CEO Charles Wolcott tell us the 3800 N Lamar Blvd site has been a successful shopping center for many years. About 10 years ago, the team started looking at alternative uses. With the downturn, the plans were put on hold until around 2012, Welden says. The last tenant moved out in May, demolition starts this month, and construction starts in July. (Is it safe to assume it's too late to use our mall gift card?)

Charles says HR worked with the City to privatize the alley, which helped the property have almost three acres of developable land for the next-gen development. Plans call for a four-story, 166k SF mixed-use project with office on the top three floors (132k SF) and retail and restaurants (34k SF) on the first. 

The building is being designed to appeal to tech firms and the firms relocating from California, Welden says. It will be LEED certified and feature showers and changing rooms, bike racks, and car charging stations. Many office tenants want to be in Austin, but not in an office tower, he says. Oxford Commercial will handle the office leasing and CBRE will lease the first-floor retail. Other project team members include STG Design, Rogers-O'Brien Construction, Consort, Studio dwg, Chioco Design, and American Realty Project Management. When they're not working, the guys like to be outdoors. Welden enjoys hiking and fishing, and Charles works with many conservation projects, including one in West Texas with bighorn sheep.

Equitable CRE (Management)
CohnReznick (Field) A/S

Good News for B and C

The GSEs are getting more aggressive on Class-B and –C assets. Case in point: Berkadia SVP Brant Smith (here with son Braden, who caught the fish) and VP Michael Levell just arranged $4M in financing for Cougar Court in Austin, locking in 4.67% interest and 70% LTV through Fannie Mae. Brant says we can expect to see the agencies get more competitive on these smaller, older deals as they try to maintain market share in the face of aggressive CMBS and bank lenders. That's also pushing them to secondary and tertiary markets, like the $8.3M acquisition financing (4.87% interest and 77% LTV) Brant and Michael just lined up for a 150-unit community in McAllen.

Brant says he's also seeing a trend of deeper rehabs in Austin. (He says the city is unique in that you can get over $1/SF rent for '70s-era properties.) His team also just arranged acquisition financing for Arbor Pointe (pictured), an early-'80s property. (Just like '80s hairstyles, this pool allows you to party in the back.) Borrower Roscoe Properties plans to invest $20k to $25k/unit to bring it up to speed. Brant tells us this level of value-add is particularly popular on South Lamar and South First, where a big wave of new construction has raised the standard.

CohnReznick (Field) RA/S
Addison (Office5) A/S
Institutional Prop (800mil) A/S

Sheraton Austin Gets New Owners & New Look

Austin's JMI Realty partnered with a REIT (Carey Watermark Investors) to buy the 365-room Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capital. Through the JV, CWI will have an 80% interest and JMI will have 20%. CWI CEO Michael Medzigian tells us there's plans for a comprehensive renovation, which includes more than $6M in improvements to the guestrooms and public spaces. (Part of us hopes they just spend it all on a cool DIY waffle-iron.)

The property was attractive because of its facilities, amenities, and location near the capitol, UT, and the convention center, he tells us. The stats also back up the Austin hospitality market. Since 2003, RevPAR in Austin has increased at a 6.7% CAGR, which is well in excess of the average of 4.2% for the top-25 US lodging markets as a whole, Michael says. The hotel will continue to be managed by an affiliate of HEI Hotels & Resorts.

Calling All Adrenaline Junkies!

Does golf make you roll your eyes? Tennis holds no charm? Running has you stifling a yawn? We're looking for all of you extreme sports players. If you hang-glide, motocross, or surf 20-foot waves, let us know and we'll feature you in a Bisnow special edition. Send your extreme photo to Catie Dixon, catie@bisnow.com or Tonie Auer, tonie@bisnow.com.

Bisnow (video-invest)

"Well, I've never been to Spain, but I kinda like the music." — Three Dog Night. Email tonie@bisnow.com and catie@bisnow.com.



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