Downtown Austins Changing Skyline

Downtown Austins Changing Skyline

Sometimes I long for the good o’days which featured the downtown Austin skyline as the UT Tower, Capital building, and a few regal towers to enhance the night. The night sky full of stars could be seen from Town Lake park, and Cesar Chavez was 1st Street, a meandering lakeside road leading to downtown. Since 2000, Austin has grown exponentially, increasing not only in population but in construction.

Austin’s slogan of the Heart of Texas has morphed to Silicon Hills to Hollywood East, and most recently Keep Austin Weird. With more and more people moving to Austin, one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations and relocation areas, housing is not only expensive but scarce. In order to combat the housing shortage, Austin’s downtown skyline will once again be changing as 59 mid to high rise housing/business complexes are in the construction pipeline over the next 15 years. So far, 26 of these buildings are currently under construction.

The majority of the buildings will be located from West Ave to Congress and Cesar Chavez to 7th Street, with a handful of these massive towers to be located east of Congress Ave according to the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Design plans for these buildings will range from traditional to the unique, such as the The Independent, an off-kilter 58-story condominium building, which is still in the planning stages. 

Photo by Austin Statesman

Buyers and investors in the downtown Austin area should understand the placement of new building locations and the height of these view blocking sky scrapers, for what is most likely to be touted as the ‘best view’ today may become a view of your neighbor’s bedroom when the newest building is constructed, see Austin Statesmen's report by clicking on photo. 

Investing in these emerging projects will most likely keep your housing costs low in the long run, but look carefully at the Declarations to see what the developer has planned meets with what you have in mind. Some questions to ask are:

  • How much will the monthly maintenance cost be and how much are the developers expecting the HOA fee to cap out at? While most developers tout a low upfront monthly cost, they typically will plan a graduating scale of increase as the developer distances themselves from the project and the Association takes controlling ownership.

  • What is the percentage of investor/rentals allowed in the by-laws? Look closely for this. If the building allows, let’s say, a 30% rental cap will this be ok? As an investor, how many “sold” units are already determined as rental units? As a homeowner, is there a strategic location where these rental units will be housed or are they scattered throughout the building? If there is no cap to the number of rental units allowed, will you be okay with an ever changing neighbor?

  • Parking. How much will a parking space cost? Does the unit come with a parking space included in the cost of the unit? Most developers sell garage spaces at a premium and are not included in the cost of the unit unless you’re purchasing a “penthouse”. Find out the dimensions of the parking space. If you have a ½ Ton pick-up truck your vehicle won’t be able to park in a space allotted for a Mini-Cooper. If you’re one of the lucky ones who are able to snag a parking space, even if your vehicle won’t fit, it’s a great investment as downtown parking is at a premium. Resale of your unit with a parking space may be just the thing to increase your profit in the long run.

There’s a lot that goes into purchasing a home, especially new construction. Condominiums are unique as you’re buying air, not dirt. Investing in a residence is the most expensive thing you will most likely purchase. If you don’t know the in’s and out’s of the Austin market, contact me today with your questions.

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Phone: 512-380-1823
Dated: July 20th 2015
Views: 4,746
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