6 Georgetown real estate stories and trends to know so far in 2017

Here are six trends and stories to follow in Georgetown real estate and development.

1. Summit at Rivery adds tenants as city acts on retail plan
After an economic study in November found Georgetown could support more than 1 million additional square feet of retail space, one mixed-use development in the city has several new tenants opening their doors later this year and more on the way.

The Summit at Rivery Park, the 32-acre mixed-use development between Rivery Boulevard and Williams Drive, will see new locations for Orangetheory Fitness and Woops BakeShop open by the fall, according to the companies.

The boutique retail development’s owner expects to add several more tenants before the end of 2017, including a brick-oven pizza restaurant, according to Jeff Novak, managing partner with Novak Brothers, the company behind the retail development.

Novak said the development’s upper-story office space is fully leased with a tenant mix including medical and financial companies. He added that the Summit would also house an office for Novak Brothers.

Novak said his company was being “super patient” with selecting a tenant for what would likely be one the development’s marquee restaurant sites on Rivery Boulevard. The site features a stand-alone building near the Summit’s commercial retail space with two towers resembling grain silos.

“We have had a lot of interest in this building, but our vision is to provide the Summit with something special,” Novak wrote in an email.

The new additions will follow other business openings at the Summit, including the completion in July 2016 of the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel & Conference Center. The facility includes 225 rooms and 30,000 square feet of conference space.

Last fall, Dallas-based Catalyst Commercial identified the Summit as one of the top 10 areas in Georgetown for future commercial retail development.

The top 10 list was part of a retail study completed by Catalyst in partnership with the city of Georgetown and the Georgetown Economic Development Corp. that included a market assessment and property analysis, identified potential new tenants in the city’s retail sector, and offered strategies to develop a citywide merchandising plan as well as identify Georgetown’s primary trade area.

Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross said in June that the city has been implementing strategies outlined by Catalyst and has been working to develop additional sites in the city for new retailers.

“The retail study showed that given our growth and population density, there is a need for additional retail,” Ross said in a statement. “So although we are seeing changes in the retail landscape across the U.S. with the rise of online outlets, Georgetown continues to be a viable location for new brick-and-mortar stores. In addition, included in our retail plan is an effort to continue strengthening our downtown arts and entertainment district.”

According to the plan, the primary trade area includes about 134,000 people with a median annual household income of $78,988 and about $13 billion of purchasing power, compared with about 58,000 people in the city limits with a median annual household income of $66,968 and $3.9 billion of purchasing power.

Along with the Summit, the plan includes several areas along I-35 as prime spots for new retail as well as the Williams Drive corridor. Catalyst’s report also found potential in areas near the Wolf Ranch Town Center and highlighted the Wolf family’s planned Wolf Lakes mixed-use development as one of the city’s strongest areas for future retail growth.

2. Holt Caterpillar retail center spurs additional development projects
By the end of 2018, the heavy-equipment supplier plans to construct a retail center at least 60,000 square feet in size at 2101 Airport Road, Georgetown, north of the intersection of Lakeway Drive and I-35.

Georgetown officials said the project is still in the planning phase, as is a planned expansion of Airport into a four-lane roadway and a new water line. City officials also said they are seeing increased activity and interest in the area near the future retail center due to its proximity to the airport and I-35, and they see the location as a prime spot for future retail and industrial development.

A new retail development, Pecan Branch, is also under development near the future Holt Caterpillar center.

According to Holt Caterpillar, the company will create 129 jobs over the next 10 years, and its presence will contribute more than $13 million in net value to the city. The company plans to invest at least $20 million in infrastructure and improvements as well.

The company also expects to generate a minimum of $27.5 million in sales per year for the first five full calendar years of operation, according to city officials.

If Holt Caterpillar meets those targets, the city of Georgetown will give the company up to $1.5 million in sales tax rebates as well as a $185,000 grant that will allow the company to connect a water line extension to the Holt Caterpillar center, according to an economic agreement between the company and the city.

3. Georgetown ISD builds for future with new facilities
Following voter approval of a $160.6 million bond in November 2015, Georgetown ISD has five school sites in stages of renovation, improvements, construction or planning.

New campuses for Wagner Middle School and Purl Elementary School are under construction. Wagner is expected to open in November.

When complete in time to open for the 2017-18 school year, the new Purl facility will serve students in prekindergarten through second grade and will have capacity to serve Williams Elementary School students in the third through fifth grades, according to GISD.

GISD plans to turn the former Williams facility into a leadership and learning center for district administration. Construction is expected to start in November, GISD spokesperson Suzanne Marchman said. The district also hopes to provide professional learning spaces and host other districts and organizations with the space, Marchman said.

Renovations to Tippit Middle School are expected to be complete in August 2018, district officials said.

Updates to Georgetown High School’s career and technical education and fine arts wings should be complete in August, according to the district.

4. Population, demographic changes expected to affect county’s housing market
Williamson County’s recent population growth is expected to continue for the next several decades, going from a population of about 600,000 today to almost 2 million people by 2050, according to Jim Gaines, chief economist with the Texas A&M Real Estate Center, who presented a mid-year economic outlook June 29 to the Williamson County Association of Realtors.

Gaines said a large number of people moving to Texas are young people looking for work. Texas leads the nation in new home construction, he added.

Areas that Gaines said might affect the county’s housing market in the future include generational lifestyle differences, increased racial and ethnic diversity, and affordability. Based on 2015 income statistics, Gaines said 42 percent of households in Texas are unable to afford a house priced higher than $150,000.

5. Southeast Georgetown developments moving ahead
The southeast Georgetown development of Saddlecreek, a 353-acre master-planned community, continues to move forward with a mix of single-family and multifamily housing, and the 205-acre Kasper development near Westinghouse Road and SE Inner Loop is in the planning stages, said Sofia Nelson, planning director for the city of Georgetown. Nelson said she expects southeast Georgetown will be the site of increased development and mixed-use infill over the next several years. “[Southeast Georgetown] is going to change, and that change is going to be fast,” Nelson said.

6. Industrial vacancies low
Vacancy rates for industrial, commercial and retail buildings in Georgetown were all below 5 percent in the first quarter of 2017, but the rate for industrial vacancy fell below 2 percent, according to Michaela Dollar, the city’s economic development director.

– Cody McCrary, Evan Marczynski

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