Construction crews continue to add to the Tesla gigafactory, which is spawning a tsunami of ancillary development. JERRY L. BROOKS / BALLISTIC BLADE ENTERTAINMENT

Austin Business Journal writes, "A wave of development is washing over far East Austin, turning empty fields into hulking buildings.

The area around Tesla Inc.'s mammoth gigafactory is considered by many to be Austin's final frontier, and developers are taking the plunge now that Elon Musk has warmed the water. Mixed-use projects, multifamily housing, office towers, shopping centers and more are poised to transform the "eastern crescent" of Austin, which roughly follows the relatively new State Highway 130 toll road.

Here is a look at some of the largest projects on tap in the area. They will create a mountain of work for construction crews and yield abundant opportunities for others. County and municipal planners — especially road builders — also have much to do, given all the sudden progress.

New community rising near airport

Dallas-based developer Presidium Group LLC is building Velocity, a 314-acre master-planned district entitled for 7 million square feet of space east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. It started going vertical in March.

The initial project at Velocity, a 307-unit apartment complex, will include studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments ranging from 375 to 1,400 square feet. It’s set to be complete by mid-2025, and it will bring new housing near Tesla’s gigafactory, which had been neck-and-neck with H-E-B LP as the region’s largest private employer before a round of recent layoffs. The electric vehicle maker remains the region’s biggest tech employer.

When completed, Velocity’s 7 million square feet of development — equivalent to what 13 Frost Bank Towers would offer — could be divided among almost 2,700 apartments, 2.9 million square feet of office space, 585,000 square feet of flex industrial and creative office space and 310,000 square feet for commercial uses, including retail, restaurants, movie theater and three hotels, according to plans released in 2020.

Plans for a futuristic city, airport turn heads

In Bastrop County, the long-awaited Greenport Airport and Emerald Island, a city-like development planned to rise along Farm to Market Road 969 under a grand but unproven $19 billion plan, is still on the table. It would yield tourist attractions and business campuses on farmland east of downtown Austin and Tesla's gigafactory.

The 5,426-acre Greenport campus could become a $10 billion mixed-use aviation and technology park for private flights, high-tech research, energy storage and data centers.

Greenport's first buildings have risen north of FM 969 and are occupied by bitcoin miners and data centers.

A few miles east near Webberville, Emerald Island's plans include a 500-room "wave hotel" with an observation wheel, a 50-acre lagoon, millions of square feet of convention center space and an 80,000-seat stadium. Emerald Island is set to encompass roughly 1,000 acres, but real estate experts wonder whether the ambitious plan can be executed as presented today.

As a whole, the community is envisioned with sustainability in mind including the capacity to generate energy, collect water and grow food on-site.

Austin-based Carpenter & Associates LLC, which is behind Greenport and Emerald Island, said it is seeking $2 billion from investors for each project, and construction is expected to come together afterward.

City takes over Tokyo Electron campus

South of the Colorado River in the Montopolis neighborhood, the city plans to transform Tokyo Electron Ltd.’s former headquarters after approving the $87 million purchase of the site.

The 107-acre campus previously served as the company’s North American headquarters for the Japanese electronics and semiconductor company, but it has since moved part of its operations downtown and is seeking space now for the rest of its crew.

Two existing buildings on the site, which total 189,795 square feet on 47 acres, are intended to be used as the city’s second Combined Technology and Emergency Communications Center and as office space for future municipal needs.

The other 60 acres of undeveloped land at the campus are expected to transform into a dense, transit-oriented neighborhood with 1,100 living units, similar to the Mueller development, and workforce housing is possible for teachers, emergency responders and airport employees.

Catellus takes Mueller model deeper into East Austin

Catellus Development Corp. — which worked with Austin City Hall to redevelop the old Mueller airport into housing, shops and offices — is working on a 208-acre community projected to have up to 3,000 residential units, about 230,000 square feet of office space, 130,000 square feet of retail space and 42 acres of parks, trails and open space. Affordable housing is part of the plan.

The project is west of Lake Walter E. Long near Decker and Loyola lanes in Austin’s Colony Park neighborhood. Catellus was also behind the transformative 700-acre Mueller neighborhood, which is now a walkable, urban neighborhood on the east side.

The total estimated cost for the project is $257 million, according to city documents. When completed, the undertaking is estimated to generate $780 million in taxes for the city.

High-rise buildings on the Colorado River

San Antonio-based Kairoi Residential is moving forward with plans to raise more than 2,200 multifamily units, a 385-room hotel, nearly 1.5 million square feet of office space and a shopping plaza between U.S. Highway 183 and the northern bank of the Colorado River. Buildings could rise roughly 18 stories high, project manager Michael Hang said. That would be a new height record for the east side.

The 115-acre project will also include more than 134,000 square feet of restaurant space and a 27,000-square-foot arts theater in addition to an 8,500-square-foot music venue and a 37,000-square-foot civic center, according to past reporting.

More planned for the riverfront

On the other side of the highway from Kairoi's project, closer to downtown, Endeavor Real Estate Group LLC plans to redevelop the 21-acre Borden Dairy Co. plant.

The 21-acre project, just north of the Colorado River Park Wildlife Sanctuary and the Roy Guerrero Metropolitan Park, is envisioned as a bustling mixed-use district with 1,400 residential units, more than 400,000 square feet of office space, more than 100,000 square feet of retail space and a 220-room hotel near Cesar Chavez Street, East Seventh Street and Levander Loop.

With an approved maximum building height of 120 feet, towers at the site could rise 10 to 12 stories — taller than any other building in the largely residential and industrial area. However, the project has been met with resistance from the surrounding community with a lawsuit that claims the city engaged in illegal spot zoning when it approved a rezoning request last year. Environmentalists have concerns about the project's impact on the nearby wildlife sanctuary.

SpaceX and The Boring Co.

Here’s a look at Elon Musk's SpaceX and The Boring Co. complex. It’s about 20 minutes east of ABIA in Bastrop, and it’s been reported that about 1,200 people work at these sites so far.

The Boring Co. grabs a lot of headlines with its fantastic mission of tunneling roads and maybe hyperloops in the future underground with big boring machines, but it hasn’t struck many notable deals outside Las Vegas. Locally, Boring executives tried to sell a tunnel idea to the city of Kyle but city officials ended up saying no.

SpaceX, however, is flying high and seems to have a bright future due to NASA's dependence on it. At this site, SpaceX manufactures components for its Starlink satellite system designed to cover the world in an internet connection.

A massive new neighborhood

Off SH 130 near FM 973, Whisper Valley has almost 1,000 homes so far but about 7,500 are planned on more than 2,000 acres.

Some apartments just broke ground in the neighborhood too. Boston-based Taurus Investment Holdings is behind this one, and principals said it could take 15 years to build out.

Douglas Gilliland, the managing director for Taurus Investment Holdings, announced last year his company will fund and construct a 600-acre public park that will one day be donated to the city of Austin and its park system. Gilliland described the park as the “Zilker Park of East Austin.” The new public park will be almost double the size of Zilker, and be sandwiched between Walter E. Long park and the East Metropolitan park, and it will tie into Travis County’s 14-mile public trail system to bring the east side outside amenities it has yet to see.

A bigger airport coming

The city is amassing money and construction companies so ABIA can essentially double in size.

More than 60 projects are laid out in the airport's 2040 Master Plan, which in 2018 was estimated to cost $4 billion. Austin City Council approved the use of the construction manager at risk, or CMAR, method of contracting for the development of a new concourse and tunnel system — one of the most substantial projects of the city’s airport expansion and development program. That part of the plan has a construction budget of $1.6 billion and work is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2026. It includes design and buildout of new pedestrian, utility and baggage-handling systems.

A new office hub is almost ready

Work continues on Springdale Green, a 30-acre office campus under construction at Springdale Road and Airport Boulevard by California-based Jay Paul Co. The project includes more than 20 acres of restored land, nearly 30,000 feet dedicated to fitness and wellness and roughly 36,000 square feet of outdoor terrace space.

The site is now available for leasing and is set to be completed in June, according to Joshua LaFico, the senior managing director with Newmark, a commercial brokerage representing the project.

The project includes two mid-rise buildings with 775,000 square feet of office space. When completed, it will be the eighth-largest multitenant office park in the city, according to data collected by the ABJ."


Source: Austin Business Journal

Written by: Mike Christen & Colin Pope

Published: April 26, 2024

Posted by Grossman & Jones Group on


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