What to expect in housing trends and traffic as north Austin and suburbs grow


AUSTIN (KXAN) — New census numbers out Thursday show the Austin-Round Rock Metro has grown to more than 2.1 million people.

Explosive growth is fueling record home prices and creating gridlock on our roads, and how to deal with those growing pains, especially in north Austin, was discussed Thursday at Austin Business Journal’s North Austin Growth Summit.

About 450 people – realtors, builders, employers and other stakeholders – heard from transportation, housing, real estate and recruitment experts. 

Vaike O’Grady, Austin Regional Director at Metrostudy, said “feverish” describes well the current housing market.

“Everybody is building at a feverish pace, but also builders are a little bit queasy,” she explained. “They’re having trouble finding lots. In some cases, they’re having trouble finding labor, and there’s a lot of pressure on supply.”

According to Metrostudy’s first-quarter survey, O’Grady said the area near the Domain and just northwest of the shopping center saw virtually no new home activity within the last 12 months.

She said builders started constructing only 179 new homes. 

But the market is booming in neighborhoods further up north.

After Apple announced it’s investing $1 billion to grow its presence on Parmer Lane, O’Grady said, in ZIP codes 78717 and 78681, homebuilders reported a surge, nearly a 30 percent increase, in monthly new home contract rates. 

Those ZIP codes cover the Avery Ranch area and Round Rock. 

O’Grady then went on to explain, the Cedar Park, Leander and Liberty Hill area is seeing tremendous growth. 

“The youngest millennials are now 25-years-old,” she said. “So they are starting families. They’re starting to establish themselves, and they are looking for good schools.”

The Cedar Park and Leander submarket have 77 active subdivisions, according to Metrostudy, and thousands of new homes are being built in those suburbs. 

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is looking at how all these people will get to the Domain, Apple’s campus and downtown.

Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein said the 183 North project, which will add two toll lanes in each direction and improve the existing stretch between Mopac and SH 45, according to its website, will help.

He said, “Once we get those four lanes constructed that will bring people over from Parmer to 183 North because there are now people who divert to Parmer and divert to Loop 1.”

Heiligenstein said it’s going to take about three years to finish the 183 North project.

Developments to watch in north Austin

  • The Parmer Innovation Center is going up fast near I-35 between Parmer and Howard Lanes. It’s leasing space to Facebook and several Fortune 500 companies. 
  • East Village is on Parmer Lane across from the Samsung Austin Semiconductor plant.     Developers plan to add up to 2,200 apartments and 450 single-family homes, along with office buildings, three hotels, a grocery store, theater and amphitheater.
  • Near The Domain, there are plans to redevelop Broadmoor on Burnet Road. 
  • Arena Tower could be a 19-story office tower on Burnet Road just south of Braker Lane. 

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