1. Plans for live-work-play projects in Cedar Park, Leander progress
Hundreds of locals flocked to the Cedar Park Recreation Center on June 19 to get a taste of a mixed-use development that has long been in the making—the Bell District. The event, called “A Day in the Bell District,” gave locals insight into the redevelopment of Bell Boulevard in Cedar Park, a city-spearheaded project expected to include retail, housing and commercial space.
“We see the Bell District as a place where people can eat while their children are playing, a place where it’s easy and comfortable to walk around,” Matt Whelan, founding principal for developer RedLeaf Properties, told attendees at the event. “There’s a vibrant mix of uses and activities.”
Locals made it clear they are seeking more walkable developments in the area. A live poll at the June event found 60% of participants think a pedestrian experience is more important than ease of parking.
Several other mixed-use development projects are in the works in Cedar Park and Leander. Indigo Ridge, a mixed-use development coming to northeast Cedar Park, is planned to feature office space, residential options, retail, restaurants, entertainment and more. The city of Cedar Park entered into an initial agreement in March with the developers of Indigo Ridge and the U.S. Tennis Association Texas, which is anticipated to anchor the project. A final contract between the city of Cedar Park and Indigo Ridge Development Partners could go before City Council this summer.
In Leander, Northline could become Leander’s first “downtown.” The city of Leander agreed to a public-private partnership with Northline to fund part of the infrastructure in June 2018, including $15 million in bonds for public improvements such as streets, sidewalks and parks. Northline is anticipated to include a mix of residential, retail and dining options.
“The community has been striving and yearning for more retail and restaurant options,” said Alex Tynberg, owner and developer of Northline Leander Development LLC. “We believe that a build-out that is more live-work-play has a lot of additional benefits, serving the community in a more meaningful manner but also creating more value for the city in terms of the tax base from both property and sales tax on a per acre basis.”
The city of Leander announced June 19 the mixed-use development is planned to feature a civic space called Leander Town Square. Leander City Council discussed putting a new City Hall adjacent to the civic space during a retreat meeting in late June, but final plans are not yet approved.
“We’re looking at creating an urban environment in Leander in a traditionally suburban market,” Tynberg said. “We’re looking to create a walkable, livable, more urban community centered around the town square.”
2. Cedar Park-Leander make list of hottest areas for apartment rentals
People are filling up apartment units in Leander and Cedar Park, causing rental rates to rise, according to data from Apartment Data Services, which provides information on multifamily properties.
The Cedar Park, Leander and Four Points submarket ranked the second-hottest submarket in the Austin area in June, according to ADS Southwest Regional Manager Cindi Reed.
“They are desirable areas,” Reed said. “Living in the city of Austin itself, like downtown, The Domain—those areas are pricey. I think we’re finding that everyone is starting to kind of move out into the suburbs.”
Rental rates in Cedar Park, Leander and Four Points grew 13.2% between March and June, according to ADS.
In the four ZIP codes that make up Cedar Park and Leander specifically, there are 63 apartments and 18,632 units, according to ADS. Between June 2018 and June 2019, occupancy increased 5.9 percentage points. Occupancy is greater in these areas than in the Austin area as a whole.
No new construction took place in the last year in Cedar Park and Leander, according to Reed, but eight complexes are currently under construction in the Cedar Park and Leander area.
3. Leander has more new home sales, fewer existing home sales than Cedar Park
While existing home sales are typically higher in Cedar Park, Leander’s existing home sales appear to be catching up, according to data from the Austin Board of Realtors.
From June 2017-May 2018, Cedar Park ZIP code 78613 saw 130 more existing homes sold than Leander ZIP code 78641. Over the following year, the Cedar Park ZIP code only saw 10 more existing homes sold than Leander.
Still, Leander continues to see more new home sales than Cedar Park. RE/MAX Capital City Realtor Joel Peal said this has to do with available land.
“I definitely think in terms of new home construction there appears to be a lot more in Leander,” Peal said. “They have more land to develop. I think Cedar Park has become somewhat landlocked. ...It simply has to do with the ability to build. There are not that many new developments in Cedar Park.”
Aaron Hickman, a Realtor at Keller Williams Realty, said Leander’s resale market is almost as good as Cedar Park’s, but the pace of new home construction in Leander causes some challenges for Leander’s resale market.
“If you’re going to spend $500,000, do you want a house built in 2013 that has speckled carpet and brown cabinets? Or do you want to buy a brand-new house right around the corner in Leander for the same price and get a little bit larger home and everything is brand new and modern and gray?” Hickman said. “The market in Leander is actually a really tough one if you’re selling a resale house because there are so many options for new homes.”
4. Residents are renovating, adding to their homes
Peal said a common trend he sees in Cedar Park and Leander is residents updating their homes.
“I see people really sprucing [homes] up and using them as investment properties,” Peal said.
Certain additions and remodels that involve structural, electrical or plumbing changes require city permits. The number of permits granted in Cedar Park and Leander has increased. In 2014, the city of Cedar Park issued 23 permits for remodels and additions. In 2018, it issued 51 permits, according to data from the city. Fewer permits have been issued in Leander—since July 2014, 30 permits for additions or remodels have been issued.
Hickman said Anderson Mill West and Shenandoah neighborhoods in Cedar Park are common areas where remodeling takes place.
“You can remodel and make your house a dream house and not move if you like your community,” Hickman said.
5. Williamson County has record year in residential real estate
In 2018, Williamson County saw a record year for residential growth since the 2007-09 recession, according to Alvin Lankford, chief appraiser with the Williamson Central Appraisal District. Lankford gave a presentation to the Williamson County Commissioners Court in May.