In late 2017, the Spillman family, descendants of Hill Country pioneers and namesakes of Spillman Ranch, put under contract 20 acres of land located at 14310 W. Hwy. 71 in the city of Bee Cave, Realtor Jerry Stein said. As part of the sale the family will retain 4 acres, reserving them for future commercial development.

Stein, who is with Buyers Incentive Real Estate in Lakeway, said those 4 acres are zoned for community services use and have 800 feet of Hwy. 71 frontage. There is already interest from a buyer for 2 of the 4 acres, Stein said.

The pending Spillman land sale is an example of how investors value properties along the West Hwy. 71 corridor from Spicewood to Bee Cave as an attractive opportunity, real estate experts said.

“More [commercial properties] are coming up on the market, and more things are selling; you can just see it,” said Realtor Janie Quisenberry with Bee Creek Real Estate. “I’ve got three or four people now who have me looking for property along Hwy. 71, but I just can’t find it for them.”

Spicewood to Bee Creek Road

Near Spicewood, real estate broker Joe Connors with McAllister & Associates is completing leasing the second of two phases of 71 Warehouse, a newer office complex west of Bee Creek Road and home to businesses such as Charity Auto Sales and pet boarder Camp Bow Wow as well as a children's day care, a fitness center, a coffee roaster, homebuilding trades and an auto repair shop that caters to local residents.

“I’m looking ahead to serving people in the planned Thomas Ranch development [slated to have 3,300 homes on 2,200 acres] in the next few years,” Connors said, pointing out he is moving forward with building a second three-building office warehouse located at Hwy. 71 and Gregg Drive.

An existing building on the property is now leased to Lifted Trucks of Texas, Community Impact Newspaper reported in December.

Accountant Mindy Smith leases part of an office in a small, one-story professional building on Hwy. 71 west of Bee Creek Road that also houses a law firm, a dentist, a homebuilder and a windows and doors provider.

“We really need retail space out here," Smith said. "There are not a lot of choices, and my client base is starting to really saturate between [the communities of] West Cypress [Hills] and Briarcliff."

Quisenberry said the most affordable commercial tract she has seen is listed at $1.2 million for a few acres with highway frontage near Bee Cave.

Sweetwater West

Rising property values are an old story for land developer representatives such as Bill Meyer, senior vice president and regional manager at Newland Communities. Newland and its partner homebuilders are about a third of the way through constructing Sweetwater West, a master planned community that will have 1,550 homes when completed.

With about 680 homesites sold at the end of 2017, Meyer said site work on 14 acres of highway frontage at Pedernales Summit Parkway will be finalized in mid-to late January to support retail and services. Newland’s parcel across the road from Bee Creek Parkway is being subdivided into six commercial lots, he said, declining to reveal committed tenants at this time because of client confidentiality.

Another 3 acres or so is to be available for future retail use when Pedernales Summit Parkway eventually loops back to Hwy. 71 at the far western end of the community, Meyer said.

At Lakeway’s Serene Hills Drive, the planned Serene Hills Commons will feature a Chase Bank on the northeast corner, one of four lots, said Justin Poses, the tract’s real estate broker.

On the northwest side of the intersection of Serene Hills and Hwy. 71, H-E-B owns the 21-acre parcel, Travis County property records show. An H-E-B public affairs representative said in late 2017 the grocer has no plan or timeline to develop the parcel.

Sweetwater East

Crossing Hwy. 71, Serene Hills Drive is being extended as Sweetwater Crossing into Sweetwater East, a 400-acre, master planned community in Bee Cave’s extraterritorial jurisdiction governed by a separate development agreement. That deal ensures the developer follows rules similar to city ordinances.

Published literature dated 2017 from developer Wheelock Street Capital of Greenwich, Connecticut, shows a dozen available commercial parcels ranging in size from 1 to 23 acres.

The Wheelock literature also shows a parcel on the eastern portion of Sweetwater East dedicated to Covert Auto Group. The owner of the 32-acre tract is listed as Covert's representative, Matthews-Barnes Brothers Investments.

Wheelock sold the parcel to the Covert group in July 2015, Community Impact Newspaper reported. The land, zoned commercial, is adjacent to the Lake Travis ISD property that now houses the district’s bus barn and is also the future location of Middle School No. 3, school district leaders said.

Vail Divide and Bella Colinas

Closer to the city of Bee Cave, at a recently installed stoplight at Vail Divide and Hwy. 71, Nitro Swimming has new neighbors. A Dallas couple is readying to reopen the Hill Country Golf & Guitar entertainment venue around February, according to the real estate broker involved.

In front of that property facing the highway, the new Bee Cave Shopping Center located at 15500 W. Hwy. 71 is preparing to open in early 2018. Tenants include Serasana, a local yoga and massage therapy business; Domino's; Bee Cave Nails, and Luv Braces & Kid's Dentistry, according to Ryan Ridgeway with Stream Realty.

“I think [the emergence of retail and service-oriented businesses will] be good for the community because [homeowners] out here won’t have to go into town as much. And it’ll be more of a community [environment],” said Guy Oberg III, the real estate broker behind the sale of Hill Country Golf & Guitar. “I’m curious to see how long [various leases are] going to take. We don’t know how big of an appetite [there is for new offices and services] just yet because it’s still hard to get the workers out to the locations. And it is expensive retail; some of it is [priced at] $30-$40 per square foot. It’s similar [pricing] to in-town [Austin], along South Lamar Boulevard and the Burnet Road area."

But commercial investors are anticipating the market will stay robust. On one of three lots adjacent to Nitro, a tract called The Village at Vail Divide, will be home to Acrotex Gymnastics, now temporarily housed at a property on Bee Creek Road, according to Ken Satterlee, founder of St. Croix Capital Corp. of Austin.
The Vail Divide lots still have to undergo site development before future tenants can build vertically, likely sometime in 2019, he said.

On the south side of Hwy. 71 near Vail Divide, commercial plats are being advertised on about 23 acres in front of the Bella Colinas subdivision.

Kiddie Academy is planned on one of 11 lots and nearby at 15801 Hwy. 71, Bldg. 1, Ste. 100 Bee Cave, a new office of Austin Regional Clinic opened in mid-January.

At RM 620, a medical and wellness plaza is welcoming tenants, including Alive & Well and Elle’s Café & Coffee, said Eric Perardi, managing partner at Hat Trick Development.

Second-level tenants slated to be moving in by the end of March include Lone Star Podiatry, Legacy Bone and Joint Orthopedics, Austin Gastroenterology and Sanova Dermatology.

Perardi said other plats on that corner, called the Park at Bee Cave, behind Bee Caves Baptist Church are in development and include a new concept Schlotzsky's, a 40,000-square-foot surgical center as well as a salon, other retail and a proposed day care.

Editor’s note: Development and real estate broker-related information gathered for this article does not represent a comprehensive view of available land or development proposals along West Hwy. 71.

This story is one update from Lake Travis-Westlake January Issue. View the full list of Top 5 stories to follow in 2018 here.