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Condos are Back!
Auction (Houston) L-A/S
October 9, 2013

Condos are Back!

Apartment Realty Advisors (ARA) is a sponsor of our 3rd annual multifamily summit on October 30 (register today). ARA is the largest full-service investment advisory brokerage firm that focuses exclusively on the multihousing industry. Click here.

Downtown Austin is getting its first new condo project since '08, and everyone wants in. (Or at least a place to crash at SXSW.)

SeaholmExecs-2 (5)
The 30-story community is in the Seaholm Power Plant (aptly dubbed Seaholm Residences) and will offer 288 condos. Southwest Strategies Group principal/Seaholm Power managing partner John Rosato (second from the left with Flintco's Peter Narvarte, Capital Project Management's Dave Stauch, and Flintco's John Martin in front of the iconic structure) tells us he's been working on this for nine years. (Hey, we all have projects around the house we've been putting off.) It's been a difficult conversion, but his passion is reusing old properties. Seaholm will be mixed-use, which John says added difficulty—they're harder to finance post-recession.
CohnReznick (Think2) MA/S

John tells us he chose condos over rentals because although financing can be trickier, he sees strong demand in Austin and a limited supply. Plus, he's always wanted to do a condo project Downtown to bring homeownership to the submarket, which he feels is important for Downtown's health. The community will be ready for occupancy in Q1 2015, at which point Urbanspace will sell the units. CEO Kevin Burns tells us demand has been mind-blowing—he's already had nearly 1,000 inquiries without hitting the market. (And he plans to live there himself!)

Seaholm Intake Structure
The project sits on the NWC of the Seaholm redevelopment and has both Capitol and lake views, a rare find. (And great for brokering peace in a merman-politician melee.) The Power Plant will be true mixed-use with strong retail including Trader Joe's, restaurants, and office space. And Kevin feels the project may fill a gap in Austin: since Downtown doesn't have a town square, the public space at Seaholm may be a solid draw.

Bisnow Named Sexiest Woman Alive

We made the list! And while it wasn't actually the Esquire's Sexiest Woman list, we did one better. On the Crain's Fast 50, honoring the fastest-growing companies in New York, you'll see Bisnow at #12. We've come a long way since 2005, but we hope we've stayed true to something the article picked up on: "hyperlocal e-newsletters and industry events notable for their informal atmosphere—and modest ticket prices." Reached for comment, Scarlett Johansson (Esquire's real sexiest woman) said "What's Bisnow?" Yeah, we've still got it.

Hello, World

Austin's entertainment reputation is putting us on the map globally, according to experts at the Bisnow Entertainment Real Estate summit last week. Circuit of the Americas Race Track EVP Bruce Knox (far right with Downtown Austin Alliance executive director Charlie Betts, Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Bob Lander, and World Class Capital Group CEO Nate Paul) says the track is attracting Austin international attention in a big way. Last year's Formula One race brought in 265,000 attendees, 65% of which were international. (Compare that to ACL, which boasts 140,000 people.)

Bob says international investment has grown 20% year-over-year since '09, and Brookings Institution now calls us a secondary market globally. He says that when you're cursing all the tourists cramming the highway for events like ACL and SXSW, keep in mind that without our major events, each citizen would have to pay an extra $1,000 a year in taxes. (So curse under your breath.) Austin's hotel market is booming, with investment up 33% Downtown in the last 10 years. In that time, ADR grew 54%; 3,000 rooms are under development now, and Bob thinks we'll surpass 40,000 rooms of inventory in the next decade.

Nate (whose firm is the largest retail landlord Downtown) says few major Downtowns boast our fundamentals—retail is 98% occupied, multifamily is 99%, and office is over 90% for the first time in a while. He says Google Fiber's multi-billion dollar investment is a huge deal for Austin. It provides Internet that's 100 times faster, and we're only the second city to get the infrastructure—it shows Google's confidence in Austin, and he thinks it'll draw big companies here.

Charlie says there are still lots of opportunities Downtown—he estimates the submarket is only 60% built out. But transportation is our big challenge. You don't want people not visiting Austin or going Downtown because they don't want to deal with traffic. He says all major routes into Downtown need improvement, and he's interested in almost any mode of transportation from toll roads to rail. (Bring back the hand car. It could be the next exercise craze.)

Bury sponsored both our Austin Entertainment event and our San Antonio State of the Market—at the latter, we snapped David Beyer, Cindy Cardenas, Larry Heimer, Coy Armstrong, Aaron Parenica, and Gary Freeland. The firm has a few hotels under construction near the Eagle Ford Shale. In the Alamo City, it's in permitting for Big Tex, a 334-unit mixed-use property adjacent to the Blue Star Brewery being developed by NRP and James Lifschutz.

If the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off. Send your news to Catie Dixon, catie@bisnow.com.

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