South Austin is set to receive a badly needed injection of infill housing.

Locally based StoryBuilt will develop 116 homes on 15 acres in South Austin, according to a July 25 announcement. The development will mostly consist of single-family detached homes with some attached townhomes, StoryBuilt Austin Division President Ross Wilson said.

It's the latest infill project for StoryBuilt, which aims to grow the city from the inside out, he said.

The neighborhood will be located at 8420 Longview Road, in South Austin off West Gate Boulevard. Construction is not expected to begin until summer 2023.

"We're really excited about this opportunity," Wilson said. "Obviously it's a big parcel in South Austin. It's very well connected to downtown and the other employment hubs for Austin, so we love the location."

About 10% of the 116 homes will be attached two-story townhomes, while the rest will be detached single-family homes, Wilson said. StoryBuilt aims for a mix of two- to four-bedroom homes, with the average size being about 1,500 square feet.

StoryBuilt, which operates legally as PSW Real Estate LLC, has not yet decided if the homes will be rental properties or for sale, Wilson said.

"We are pursuing the site plan the same either way, from a design standpoint and from a material spec standpoint," he said. "We're going to watch the market over the next four to six months and see which way to take the project."

When choosing a site to develop, Wilson said the key for StoryBuilt is the community surrounding the site. Depending on the project the company is developing, that could mean being in close proximity to employment opportunities or entertainment options.

Wilson said two major factors that influenced StoryBuilt to develop at this site were being near grocery stores and within a 20-minute drive of the Central Business District.

StoryBuilt has built more than 40 communities in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Denver and Seattle, according to the announcement. Across those five markets, the company has a $1 billion pipeline of future infill product.

In the Austin area, StoryBuilt has nearly completed the Frank West neighborhood at 900 S. 2nd St. It has sold 20 of the three-story townhomes, with two more for sale and nine more being built.

The Ellie May development, featuring 84 condos and a farm-to-table restaurant, is expected to launch pre-sales for homes in the third or fourth quarter. That's the same timeline as its Gorgeous George development, which will have 80 townhomes and 36 single-family homes, according to StoryBuilt's website. Both developments are located in East Austin.

StoryBuilt is looking for additional land in the Austin area where it can apply its infill expertise to the region's housing shortage, said Jake Heffelfinger, StoryBuilt's Austin acquisitions manager.

"Our land acquisition team specializes in finding spots where we can build sustainably and responsibly," he said.

Austin’s housing inventory is improving — the 2.1 months in June was the highest level seen since November 2019 — but still falls well short of the roughly six months that experts consider a healthy level.

At July’s Central Texas Housing Summit, builders and business leaders identified high development fees, lengthy permit review processes and an outdated land development as contributors to dearth of residential development, and Wilson largely agreed.

Wilson pointed to development fees in particular, which he said in Austin can sometimes be three times higher than those found in other big Texas cities.

recent study from the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University found that for a four-home infill housing development, a project in Austin would have $41,303 per home in development fees. Across Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio, fees ranged from $5,014 to $15,180 per home.


Source: Austin Business Journal

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