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Apr 1, 2008
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Austin Real Estate News – March 2008 Compilation

Information originally obtained from RECON.

GEORGETOWN, FORT WORTH AMONG ‘BEST PLACES’

Georgetown (statesman.com) — Fortune Small Business magazine says this Texas community of more than 40,000 is the second best place to live in America.

The April issue ranks Georgetown behind Bellevue, Wash., and ahead of Buford, Ga.; Marina del Rey, Calif.; Bethesda, Md.; Portland, Ore.; Denver, Colo.; Charlotte, N.C.; Fort Worth; and Franklin, Mass.

Cities were scored on job and population growth, new business startups, health-care facilities and other lifestyle factors.

DELL TO LAY OFF THOUSANDS

AUSTIN (Dallas Morning News) – Dell Inc. announced Monday that it expects to save $3 billion a year by closing a computer factory in Austin and laying off thousands more workers around the globe.

The Round Rock computer maker reiterated its intention to cut at least 8,800 jobs – about 10 percent of its workforce worldwide. It has already cut about 3,200 positions in the past three quarters.

Dell will close its Topfer Manufacturing Center by Jan. 1, cutting about 900 of its 17,500 Austin-area positions in the process.

“In addition, the company will take further actions to reduce total product costs across all areas, including design, manufacturing and logistics, materials and operating expenses. Dell expects that the initial benefits from these actions will begin to be realized in the second half of this fiscal year,” company officials said.

The company will also decide by the end of the third fiscal quarter whether it should sell its Dell Financial Services unit.

TUSCANY CENTER TALLIES TWO MORE

AUSTIN (Austin American-Statesman) – McShane Corp. and TAG International will construct two more buildings for the Tuscany Center at Walnut Creek. The project will cover 52 acres overall.

Tuscany Technology Center 3 will be a five-acre build-to-suit capable of accommodating up to 65,184 sf of office-flex space.

Tuscany Technology Center 4, located at 9100 US 290 E., will have 54,865 sf of office-flex space.

Ground has broken on Center 4, and it is expected to be completed toward the end of the year.

ST. CROIX BUYS BRAKER TRIO

AUSTIN (Austin Business Journal, globest.com) – Dallas-based Westmont Realty Capital has sold Braker Centers 6, 7 and 11 to San Diego–based St. Croix Capital Corp.

Westmont’s 18-month hold before the sale included renovations, upgrades and significant increases in occupancy for the three buildings.

The 216,522-sf flex complex is 93 percent leased and located at Metric Blvd. and Braker Ln.

Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP brokered the transaction. Bank of America Corp. provided senior debt and Alex Brown Investment Management LLC supplied the equity.

LENDING STANDARDS TIGHTEN FOR MANY

WASHINGTON (Associated Press) – Mortgage insurers have flagged nearly a quarter of the nation’s ZIP codes where they refuse to insure some home loans, making it harder for many homebuyers to borrow, even if they have good credit.

In recent weeks, mortgage insurers have flagged more than 9,600 ZIP codes in at least 34 states where they will not insure certain types of home loans — those for investment properties or second homes, those with riskier adjustable-rate or interest-only mortgages, or for buyers making down payments of less than 3 percent.

The entire states of California, Florida, Arizona, Michigan, Ohio and Nevada, which have seen the highest foreclosure rates and the worst price declines, are blackballed on some mortgage insurers’ lists.

For new homebuyers and those seeking to refinance, this can mean higher down payments and a higher bar for credit scores, among other requirements. The toughest restrictions are in markets where home prices are falling, though regions where property values are rising are not immune.

THREE TENANTS FOR TECH RIDGE

AUSTIN (Austin Business Joural) – Office Depot, Petco and Castle Dental are joining anchors H.E. Butt Grocery Co. and JCPenney at Tech Ridge Center in North Austin.

The 200-acre Tech Ridge tract at the southeast corner of I-35 and Parmer Lane is being built in phases. Developer Quentin Corp. is working on the second stage of retail that will bring total shop space to around 200,000 sf.

The three newest tenants are scheduled to open in November.

Future phases will include another 280,000 sf of retail and hotel space plus a 400,000-sf office complex to be called the Pavillion at Tech Ridge.

Durham & Bassett Realty of Austin represented Quentin Corp. on all three leases.

PARTNERSHIP’S COTTAGE TAKEOVER

AUSTIN (Mosaic Residential) – An affiliate of Harbor Group International LLC, in partnership with Mosaic Residential Inc., has purchased the 167-unit Camden Ridgeview apartment complex from Camden Property Trust.

Harbor Group and Mosaic Residential will invest $1.2 million for interior and exterior upgrades on the property, which has been renamed The Cottages at Wells Branch.

The 93 percent leased complex was built in 1984 on more than seven acres and consists of 167 garden-style apartments. The units average 859 sf.

CapMark arranged the Freddie Mac financing. Mosaic will oversee the renovation and manage the property.

AUSTIN OFFERS MOVIE MAKERS NEW INCENTIVE

AUSTIN (Austin Business Journal) – City officials hope shouts will ring out around town thanks to a new ordinance approved this week. Specifically, they want to hear “lights, camera, action” a lot more.

Austin City Council voted to waive facility use and rental fees for qualifying film, television and video productions in the area.

According to the ordinance, the city will provide as many as two peace officers for 15 days for filmmakers spending at least $1 million on local goods and services. Commercial, music video or video game crews must spend at least $100,000.

Films and television productions benefitting from the ordinance must credit the City of Austin in each episode.

City officials say film and video media production already contributes more than $35 million annually to the local economy. MovieMaker Magazine has ranked Austin the number one place to make movies.

5,500 HOMES FOR LEANDER, LIBERTY HILL

AUSTIN (Austin Business Journal) – Work has begun on the first two sections of a residential development that could bring as many as 5,500 new homes to Leander and Liberty Hill. Gunn & Whittington Development is the developer of the three subdivisions.

Rancho Sienna on Parmer Lane in east Leander is 610 acres. Middlebrook, along Hwy. 29 in Liberty Hill, is 400 acres. Santa Rita, also in Liberty Hill, is 1,200 acres.

Construction on the first 167 lots of Rancho Sienna and the first phase of Middlebrook has begun. Buildout is expected to take five years. Plans for Santa Rita call for buildout completion in nine or ten years.

Middlebrook homes will range from the $140,000s to $220,000s. In the other two subdivisions, prices will be from the $200,000s to $400,000s.

11 comments so far
  • anonymous
    Wed Apr 2, 2008 at 7.41 am

    Eric,
    You might want to consider attributing the source of your material to the aTm realestate center and/or the actual story source.

    -Anon

  • Wed Apr 2, 2008 at 8.05 am

    Anon – please take a look at the compilation again. Everything is clearly sourced. Thanks for your concern.

  • David Jones
    Wed Apr 2, 2008 at 3.18 pm

    Eric:

    The staff of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University spends hours putting together its twice-weekly RECON (Real Estate Center Online News). I believe you should give us credit.

    I looked at the compilation. Where does it say you took it from the Real Estate Center?

    David Jones
    Senior Editor

  • Fri Apr 4, 2008 at 8.08 am

    Hey David –

    I’m not sure what the proper etiquette is regarding original vs. compilation sourcing. Each specific story is credited to its original source (directly under the title, and after the location.)

    I am emailed RECON’s twice/week newsletter, and I think it’s a fantastic compilation. I also take plagiarism very seriously. Do you have a link regarding compilation crediting? For instance, if I credit your compilation, and then someone sees my (different) compilation, who do they credit? Do they credit the original source, RECON’s compilation, & my different compilation? It would make sense to me that they credit only the original source.

    BTW – for some reason akismet picked up your comment as spam, that’s why it took me a couple of days to respond to it.

  • David Jones
    Fri Apr 4, 2008 at 10.00 am

    Eric:
    The point is — we spend hours putting it together. If anyone’s byline should be on it, that should be our Associate Editor Bryan Pope and his student assistant Katie Sterne.
    One thing is certain. If you don’t acknowledge who actually did the compilation, whomever steals it from you won’t either.

  • Fri Apr 4, 2008 at 10.35 am

    Hmmm….I guess my point is that this isn’t your newsletter…it’s not even the same compilation. It’s an entirely different compilation of news that affects only the Central Texas real estate market.

    By your argument, if I read something on RECON, and the original news source is the Statesman, and I then repost the Statesman article, I need to credit RECON?

    70% of the stories listed here are from the ABJ or the Statesman – and everything is credited to its proper source. Everything I’ve read about proper blogging is that you credit the original source of any information.

  • Fri Apr 4, 2008 at 10.36 am

    And if someone sources anything from this page, I would expect it to be to its original source.

  • David Jones
    Fri Apr 4, 2008 at 1.05 pm

    I checked with some researchers here at the university. They say they always give credit to the person or organization “from whom they got an item.” If you were taking something from a book, would you reference the book or the citation in a footnote? Researchers say they do not want to quote something they have not read.

  • Fri Apr 4, 2008 at 4.21 pm

    hmmmm…..I didn’t realize that you guys actually cut/paste information, and boil it down to its main points. Given that the identical text can’t be found elsewhere, I guess it deserves a credit.

    Seems like a pretty easy way to earn a credit! Maybe I’m in the wrong line of “writing.”

  • Fri Apr 4, 2008 at 5.01 pm

    David –

    I don’t think your analogy of a book & footnote is really relevant here. Books are filled with original writing & ideas, and use footnotes as supporting evidence for their original ideas. RECON is information cut/pasted from other news sources – granted, the most relevant information is cut/pasted, and it makes it much easier for the end user to scan the info. However, the compilation offers no new insight or ideas.

    With that said, I really like the RECON newsletter (obviously) and I think it is a fantastic service. However, your insistence that you must be cited (rather than the original news source) is pretty ridiculous.

  • Tue Apr 8, 2008 at 8.48 am

    It’s interesting that they would rank Denver CO ahead of Georgetown Texas by Fortune Small Business magazine – as I’d much rather live in Georgetown and jog along the San Gabriel River Path than endure the cold and snow of living here in southeast Denver for the past 29 years! We are due for more snow tomorrow in Denver and over a foot of snow up in the ski resorts (about 1-2 hours west).
    Georgetown seems like a much nicer place to live and seems to offer a better economic outlet too – considering your cost of living expenses are so much lower in Texas too.

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