At the North Austin Growth Summit, hosted April 14 by the Austin Business Journal, technology executives, real estate experts and development firms provided insight on the economic potential of the North Austin area.
Throughout the virtual meeting, leaders said The Domain, which opened its first phases in 2007, continues to attract high-skill labor talent to the area through an employment market rife with tech opportunities and a real estate market close to nightlife and entertainment amenities.
“You think of downtown Austin being the core [of the city], but when you look at the population center of Austin, ... The Domain is really that center point,” said Will Jenkins, a principal at Stonelake Capital Partners. “You see employers gravitating to this geographical location for that reason.”
Now, with a few major developments ready to deliver product in the next 12 months, The Domain’s footprint in North Austin may expand even more.
Jenkins said Stonelake, a private real estate equity firm, is set to deliver the first sections of its upcoming Domain Tower II office development at the southern end of The Domain. When it is finished, Domain Tower II, located near the corner of Burnet and Braker Lane, will be the tallest building outside of downtown throughout Austin, Jenkins said. No tenants were ready to be announced at Domain Tower II at the virtual summit meeting.
Stonelake’s master plan for the area includes a total of 3 million square feet of office space along with a boutique hotel and food and beverage storefronts spread throughout the south end of The Domain.
The real estate firm is also currently building out The Bowen, a residential tower that will house more than 300 luxury apartment units. According to the development's website, The Bowen is expected to open to residents this fall.
Catty-corner to Stonelake’s Domain II, the upcoming Q2 Stadium—home of Austin FC—will host its first home game this June.
“We think that over the years, being associated with those emotions and those feelings that occur at that stadium are going to do a lot for our culture—they're going to do a lot for the community,” said Matt Flake, president of Q2 Holdings Inc., a digital banking software company. In late January, Q2 was announced as the naming sponsor for the McKalla Place stadium, which will host Austin FC games.
As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, games and other events at the stadium have the potential to bring in hundreds of thousands of visitors to The Domain area annually.
In 2018, advisory firm Brailsford & Dunlavey published a report for the city of Austin that studied the anticipated economic impact that an MLS stadium at McKalla Place would create. According to that report, people visiting Q2 Stadium for Austin FC games and other events could spend up to $6.56 million on retail and food and beverage purchases at businesses in the area on a recurring annual basis.
REAL ESTATE BOOMING IN NORTH AUSTIN
According to data provided to Community Impact Newspaper by the Austin Board of Realtors, residential real estate prices in Northwest Austin over the past year outpaced the growth of the Austin market as a whole.
In February, the median home price in Northwest Austin was reported at $483,000. That figure is 39% higher than it where it stood twelve months earlier. Citywide, the median home price rose by 24.9% to $491,000.
The North Austin real estate boom has been partially driven by the continued emergence of The Domain as Austin’s second downtown, according to Jolene Weinstein, head of sales for Realty Austin.
“Several years ago, when The Domain came in and made its presence, it’s really what launched North Austin,” Weinstein said. “The Domain has just made entertainment, from going out to dinner, shopping and more, a lot more feasible. You don’t have to go all the way downtown for that type of lifestyle."
The Northwest Austin real estate market, as defined by the six-ZIP code area in which Community Impact Newspaper distributes its Northwest Austin edtion, continues to seriously lag in terms of available housing inventory.
Housing inventory refers to the amount of time it would take for new markets to be added to the market if all the existing houses for sale were sold. According to the ABoR February 2021 report, the Northwest Austin market has 0.2 months of inventory. That is lower than the citywide rate of 0.5 months of inventory.
Weinstein said Realty Austin expects more houses to come online in the late spring and summer this year, which could bring some relief to an incredibly competitive housing market.
“We're going to see a little bit more inventory coming in, which is going to be great. It's going to ease [the market] a little bit. But overall, we are seeing a pattern for, we believe, the next several years. Austin's just hot,” Weinstein said. “We've got a tremendous amount of job growth coming into the area, and a lot of people are moving here.”