AUSTIN -- A leading economist says there is good news for Austin, especially when it comes to growth in downtown. As new construction goes up in downtown Austin, business momentum continues to build right along with it.
"We are very optimistic about Austin," said President of the Perryman Group Ray Perryman.
Perryman gave his mid-year economic forecast for the Austin Real Estate Market at the Four Seasons hotel Wednesday.
"Austin has already recouped the jobs that it lost during the recession," said Perryman. "It's ranked again as one of the fastest growing communities in the country. Some indicators have it as the fastest growing community in the country. It is doing quite well right now."
Perryman and other experts KVUE talked to say the key to Austin's economic success is its vibrant downtown.
"Everybody across the country talks about having a 24-hour, live, work-play environment," said President of Capitol Market Research Charles Heimsath. "In Austin, Texas we have it."
Heimsath says proof of that success is that Austin boasts a 97 percent occupancy rate in apartments citywide and downtown. However, he says the rent downtown is twice what it is in the rest of the city.
"Clearly places like New York, Boston, Washington and Chicago, they have very high rents in the downtown markets," said Heimsath. "It is very rare to see such high rents in a downtown market in a sunbelt city like Austin is."
The downtown growth hasn't been lost on those who live there.
"I've lived in Austin pretty much my whole life, and I've seen in grow like crazy," said Tyler Dangerfield.
Economists caution bringing new companies to downtown could be difficult because office space is limited. The Frost Bank building was the last retail office space built downtown. That was more than a decade ago.
"I think we are going to have some issues as far as sites," said Senior Vice President of Cousins Property Tim Hendricks. "Where are we going to continue in the current core? Does that jump across the river to Riverside? You really can't go north because you have the state complex. You can't move too much more west because it is purely residential, so eventually we will have to make that decision. At least for the next 10 to 15 years, we will be able to supply that new office space here in the current core."
The Austin-San Marcos area was the 23rd most searched housing market in the country last month according to Realtor.com.