New housing developments will bring thousands more multifamily units to Georgetown

Hillstone at Wolf Ranch, a 332-unit luxury apartment complex at 2300 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, started leasing in the spring. The complex is one of more than a dozen new multifamily housing projects planned or under development in Georgetown.

Hillstone at Wolf Ranch, a 332-unit luxury apartment complex at 2300 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, started leasing in the spring. The complex is one of more than a dozen new multifamily housing projects planned or under development in Georgetown.

Georgetown has seen a surge of new multifamily developments over the past three years, and city planners are managing the growth by preparing to revamp the city’s comprehensive plan in 2018.


The development is adding to the city’s housing variety with pending projects that vary in scope and scale.


But planners see challenges ahead in ensuring denser residential additions are spread evenly throughout Georgetown, said Sofia Nelson, the city’s planning director. 


“Almost every quadrant of the city is getting some sort of multifamily [development],” Nelson said. 


Multifamily projects will bring thousands of housing units


In early 2017, the Georgetown Planning Department identified 14 multifamily housing projects that were either under development within city limits or in early planning stages.


The projects, which the city projects will add more than 2,400 new units, include a mix of apartments, condominiums and townhomes, according to the department.


Meanwhile, city planners received approval from Georgetown City Council to next year begin updating the city’s comprehensive plan, which will guide future land use, Nelson said.



Sign of change


Multifamily housing growth is happening in several cities outside Austin, said Steve Crorey, Austin Board of Realtors president-elect.


The growth is driven in part by more available land on which to build in Williamson County rather than in Travis County, Crorey said. That trend allows cities outside Austin to have a better mix of housing types and different prices, he said.


“I think in a positive way, those suburban communities that are outside the city of Austin have now become economic development cities in their own right,” Crorey said. “With that comes growth, jobs and housing.”


In recent years the mobility challenges that have stifled commuters driving into Austin have led companies to relocate to Williamson County, turning cities such as Round Rock, Cedar Park, Leander and Georgetown from bedroom communities into employment centers, said Jim Gaines, chief economist at the Texas A&M University Real Estate Center.


Once a city begins to develop as an employment center, it attracts a wider variety of people with varying housing needs, Gaines said. Growth in multifamily housing tends to follow, he said.


“Georgetown has been there all along, but it has gotten a rejuvenation of new businesses emerging and being created in that area for people who live there so they can work there, and they don’t have to commute to Austin,” Gaines said.


For cities outside Austin, recognizing the growth trend presents opportunities to plan ahead in terms of zoning and city planning to set up corridors for denser development, including public housing or affordable housing options, Crorey said.


“I think areas like Georgetown, Cedar Park and Leander have an opportunity to actually plan ahead and not play catch-up like the city of Austin,” Crorey said.



Multifamily projects will bring thousands of housing units


Growing up 


Multifamily development in Georgetown varies in scope and scale.


Projects include the 303-unit Retreat at Wolf Ranch, a luxury apartment complex that broke ground in September near the Wolf Ranch Town Center. The project’s developer, McCann Realty Partners, expects to begin leasing later this year.


Homebuilder Century Communities plans to offer 70 condominiums in a 55-plus age-restricted community named Gatlin Creek.


Georgetown could see demand for more than 400 new multifamily housing units per year, according to an analysis completed in fall 2016 by Catalyst, a research firm that completed Georgetown’s retail merchandising study last year.


A significant portion of that demand is anticipated to be for less expensive multifamily units that rent between $500-$700 per month, according to the analysis.




“You can’t just live off of single-family [housing] alone, especially if you are growing. You must create a diverse housing market that includes all those different housing types and different price points to truly be affordable for everyone.”


— Steve Crorey, Austin Board of Realtors president-elect



A 2017 first quarter report from New York-based Berkadia Real Estate Advisors analyzed 68 multifamily communities between Georgetown and Round Rock and calculated the average monthly rent among more than 16,000 units of all types to be $1,071 per month. The average unit size was 920 square feet.


New multifamily development also includes affordable housing projects in the Georgetown area.


In 2016, City Council approved plans from three affordable housing developments that were seeking housing tax credits from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. The awarded projects proposed along Williams Drive include Kaia Pointe, Live Oak Apartments and Merritt Heritage, all of which are in planning stages, according to the city.



Planning challenge


Nelson said that from a planning perspective, the city should seek a variety of housing types, including single-family and multifamily developments.


With just about every part of Georgetown seeing or expected to see some sort of multifamily development, the issue now is to plan for growth so as to encourage land-use predictability—as much as possible—for property owners, developers and community partners such as Georgetown ISD, Nelson said.


She said planning officials would seek detailed guidance from City Council this fall before work begins on a comprehensive plan update. The update will likely take about 12 months to complete before it will head back to the council for approval, she said.


Ensuring development, particularly multifamily housing, does not grow oversaturated is a challenge, said Michaela Dollar, economic development director for Georgetown. Preserving land that may be attractive for future development is another issue to manage, Dollar said.


“You [need to] make sure you’re preserving the right area for the right uses,” Dollar said.


Crorey said Williamson County population growth presents opportunities to develop a better mix of housing types and housing prices outside of Austin. Markets that may have historically only seen single-family housing are now getting more options, he said. 


“You can’t just live off of single-family [housing] alone, especially if you are growing,” Crorey said. “You must create a diverse housing market that includes all those different housing types and different price points to truly be affordable for everyone.”



MOST RECENT

Businesses shuttering their doors due to coronavirus restrictions lowered the sales tax revenue collected by cities in May compared to May 2019. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas comptroller reports 13.2% year-over-year state sales tax revenue drop in May

Tax collection revenue fell significantly in several sectors from May 2019 to May 2020, according to the comptroller's office.

Williamson County reported 34 additional cases between May 30 and June 1. (Screenshot courtesy Williamson County)
OVER THE WEEKEND: 34 new cases of coronavirus, additional death reported in Williamson County

Currently, 10 patients are hospitalized, and four are in intensive care, per the report.

Demonstrators gathered at the Texas Capitol on May 31 to protest police brutality. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas officials respond to demonstrations, unrest in wake of George Floyd killing

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a state of disaster in Texas on May 31, while various city officials and law enforcment responded to protests and violence over the weekend.

Demonstrators gathered in front of the Texas Capitol on Sunday, May 31, to protest police brutality. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell speaks on George Floyd, Austin protests

“I think like everyone else, I was horrified [by Floyd’s] death," Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said.

The shop is known for its “Instagram-worthy” milkshakes. (Courtesy The Yard Milkshake Bar)
The Yard Milkshake Bar is now open in Georgetown

The shop is known for its “Instagram-worthy” milkshakes.

A Wellspring Preparatory Academy is coming to Georgetown. (Rendering courtesy Wellspring Preparatory Academy)
Wellspring Preparatory Academy coming to Georgetown

The school plans to open in fall 2021.

Take a look at how coronavirus impacted Williamson County this week. (Chance Flowers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Take a look at how coronavirus impacted Williamson County this week

The county reported 596 total cases on May 29.

The Williamson County small-business grant program has issued more than $18.5 million as of May 29. (Ali Linan/Community Impact)
Williamson County small-business grant program issues more than $18.5 million

The program has aided more than 1,600 local businesses.

Williamson County and Cities Health District reported eight new cases of coronavirus May 29, bringing the county total to 596. (Screenshot courtesy Williamson County)
1 death and 8 new confirmed cases of coronavirus reported May 29 in Williamson County

Williamson County and Cities Health District reported the total number of cases at 596.

(Courtesy Fotolia)
New school schedules and a road opening: Latest news from Central Texas

Read the latest news from Community Impact Newspaper's coverage of the Central Texas area.

Williamson County reports additional coronavirus-related death May 28. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County reports additional coronavirus-related death May 28

“Our hearts are with the family who lost their loved one due to this deadly disease," Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said.