For years, development in southern Georgetown has been stagnant because of a lack of utilities in the area. However, as new retail and housing construction in Round Rock continues to push up against its border, Georgetown city officials think now is the right time to invest in infrastructure projects that could bring a wave of new development to Georgetown's southern boundary.
"The development is waiting to happen," said Russ Boles, a principal with Williamson County real estate firm Summit Commercial. "It has just taken Georgetown a while to build their infrastructure [in] that area. But they have a plan on how to pay for it, and obviously that is driven by developers and demand."
The Round Rock Premium Outlets and the surrounding retail and dining developments as well as the Teravista neighborhood are a good sign for Georgetown, Georgetown Economic Development Director Mark Thomas said.
"What's happening along University Boulevard [in Round Rock] could be in Georgetown," Thomas said. "We are letting [developers] know there are opportunities in this rapidly growing area."
To help spur development in southern Georgetown, in April city officials are considering creating a tax increment reinvestment zone, or TIRZ, adjacent to the city's border with Round Rock. The proposal would allow the city to invest up to $50 million in property taxes collected within the TIRZ's boundaries back into infrastructure improvements in the zone.
Round Rock and Georgetown officials said a proposal to extend Oakmont Drive north into Georgetown could open up the area for additional retail development.
"I think Georgetown is seeing the wisdom because once [Oakmont] is constructed, all of the frontage along that new road ... is going to attract a high level of retail interest because Bass Pro [Shops] is there as an anchor," Round Rock Transportation Director Gary Hudder said. "They can develop the commercial property ... and it drives their tax base up."
In August, Round Rock announced plans for a Bass Pro Shops retail location at Oakmont Drive and Teravista Parkway. Thomas is hopeful the retailer will bring additional projects to Georgetown.
"Bass Pro is a great win for Round Rock," he said. "When Bass Pro comes into an area, other projects come along. We are anticipating some of those could be other kinds of retail or hotels. Just the fact that they are going in next to Georgetown opens up the possibilities."
Officials from both cities are also discussing how to best provide wastewater infrastructure to the area. Because of the local topography, Georgetown would need to pump wastewater out of the area to reach its plant. Round Rock, however, could service the area with its pre-existing wastewater infrastructure.
Other projects in the TIRZ could include up to 500,000 square feet in speculative office space for possible technology businesses or company headquarters, Thomas said.
"We want to increase our odds and potential to have those kinds of jobs—especially headquarter locations and technology jobs—set up in Georgetown," he said. "[This area] seemed like a natural place for this to occur."
Plans for the area also call for additional residential and mixed-use development space.
"We had thought about doing this in the past but didn't have the economy to back it up," Thomas said. "It probably would not have been as effective doing this five years ago."