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September 3, 2014
Will This Be Austin's Downfall?
Austin's infamous traffic jams could hurt business if something isn't done soon. (Unless you want to sell your goods on the side of the highway, bring a helmet.) That's why the City's November transportation bond proposal has earned a thumbs up from RECA. Here's three reasons why the commercial real estate org's leadership thinks you should support proposition 1 regarding Austin's Strategic Mobility Plan.
1) Businesses Lament Traffic
RECA prez Ward Tisdale says this is at the core of RECA's support of the bond proposal. Some companies' leadership is expressing regrets at locating in Austin simply because of the traffic. They didn't know, he says. But, it needs to be fixed to avoid negative implications to future relos. The word is out, though, as Forbes ranked Austin fourth on its list of 10 US cities with the worst gridlock with Austin motorists wasting 41 hours a year sitting in traffic. Here's Ward with his four children (Will, 20; Laura, 13; Daniel, 23; Katherine, 17) and niece (Caroline, 17) last month at Acadia National Park in Maine during a bike ride.
2) Fix the Roads First
Ward says the City needs to finish the road improvements before rail can even get started. There's $400M in proposed roadway projects on the table. Ward says the Chamber is on board with the getting specific roads funded and upgraded. There's MoPac, 360, 620, 2222 and I-35, just to start the list. All of the major roads in Austin have been neglected and there's a lot of growth in the city, he says.
3) Rail Means Biz Opps
RECA is pro-density, Ward says. (That's Ward and the RECA volunteers in June helping fill in some rogue trails on the Violet Crown Trail near Barton Creek.) The proposed 9.5-mile rail line will enable dense, mixed-used development to occur along the route. The route along the proposed rail line is ripe for vertical mixed-use development, which is critical to the community. Many of the traffic congestion problems are only going to worsen as the population grows. It's important to grow in a different way with a bigger focus on density, vertical development, and the transit to support it, he says.
Virtus Spends Big on Seniors Living
Virtus Real Estate Capital is getting closer to its goal of investing up to $70M by year's end in senior living investments. The latest addition for the fund is the $25.4M investment in an $82M JV deal for the acquisition of a two property portfolio (322 total units) in Vermont. Virtus director of healthcare acquisitions John Sweeny (here with his wife, Katherine, and their little boy), tells us the dedicated fund invested approximately $60M of equity in 2013 and $40M of equity so far this year. Typically, senior debt for Virtus ranges from approximately 65% to 75% leveraged, he tells us.
Virtus now has 19 senior living properties across the US. John tells us senior living properties are increasingly attractive because of the market's strong investment fundamentals including high occupancy, favorable supply and demand characteristics, fragmented nature, and the growth and expansion opportunities. Demand will be fueled by changing demographic trends, including the aging baby boomer generation and the increasing lifespan, John says. To date, there's also low industry market penetration versus long term-industry potential, which presents an excellent opportunity for investors. Away from the office, he likes to relax by hitting the links and traveling with his family.
Mopac's Newest Multifamily Project
Hoping to capitalize on the new HQs moving north of downtown, Trinsic Residential Group started construction last month on a 348-unit Aura 33Hundred rental community along MoPac and Wells Branch Parkway in Northwest Austin. Trinsic managing director Vince Spencer tells us Austin's tremendous growth in population and employment opportunities make it a great place for new, quality, multifamily housing. This community is also within walking distance of a MetroRail stop, adding to the ease of mobility for residents, he says. The project's clubhouse and first units should be ready by March, with the property complete by October.
Bisnow Makes the Inc 5000!
Okay, it's not the Fortune 500 top industrial companies or the Forbes 400 billionaires, but, hey, the Inc 5000 is pretty cool—the fastest-growing private companies in the whole US. And we ain't at the bottom, but actually toward the "top," at #1,643. With a 258% growth rate over three years. So, we'll take it! And profound thanks to you, our readers and event attendees, for helping make it happen. And for giving us the privilege of working in and for an industry that we love, that literally changes the face of America and does so much for the country every day. No punchline. Sometimes we gotta be serious.
Hear the Student Housing Experts at Our Texas Event
University enrollment is on the rise and developers are cashing in to meet the growing need of beds for students (even if they may never sleep in them.) There's also the opportunity to get in on some value-add buying opportunities as the 10-year conduit and CMBS debt starts coming due in the next two to four years. What other trends should you know about about? Well come to Bisnow's first Texas Student Housing Summit on Sept 23 at the Hyatt Regency Austin to hear expert panelists give the low down on what students are demanding. Register now.