AUSTIN, Texas — Just three miles north of Downtown Austin, construction crews are hard at work bringing something new to the city's center.
Seventy-five acres of land, once set to be a cemetery, is being transformed into a mixed-use development that will hold 1,550 homes, businesses, retail and a 16-acre signature park with a pond. It's called The Grove.
"We're excited to be delivering the homes that we've been designing now, literally for years," said Garrett Martin, CEO of MileStone Community Builders.
When Martin says years, he's not being dramatic. He and his partners purchased the land from the State of Texas back in 2014. They applied to make the site a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, so they could fit even more homes on the site. The process took years to approve.
"Change comes with a lot of fear and, as developers, we bring a lot of change," said Martin.
Ultimately, Martin believes the community collaboration made the project better, but it came with a cost. Three years ago, the developers planned to sell homes ranging from $180,000 to $1,200,000.
"We would love to be selling housing starting in the $300,000 price range. Unfortunately, that's not the reality of all the costs that culminate in the project," he said. "The cost increases that we've seen as an industry from the time we were having conversations two and three years ago to now, I mean, lumber is up 25, 35, 45 percent."
The Grove will feature three main types of housing. Stacked-flat condos, called The Astor Series, are priced from $425,000 to the mid $500,000s. There are four collections of townhomes, Laurel, Olivette, Palmetto and Juniper, which range in price from $600,000 to $1,000,000. Single-family residences are called The Castleton Series and start at $1,000,000.
Developers said there is an affordable housing component. Forty-six homes will be priced from $200,000 to $230,000 for families who qualify for affordable housing and, because of a partnership with Community Wheelhouse, teachers will get priority for those homes.
The development will also have apartment complexes and nearly 150 apartments will meet the City's affordability requirements.
As part of the deal, the developers will improve the intersection at 45th Street and Bull Creek. Martin said construction will start on that as soon as the Cty approves the plans. The developer also wanted to build a major thoroughfare in the neighborhood, but the city council didn't approve that plan.
"Our ability to deliver on high-quality developments will hopefully cause people to see that the change that we bring isn't necessarily something to be afraid of," said Martin.
People can see the change for themselves at The Grove Store. It's the development's sales center that offers a completely digital experience, where you can walk through or fully customize a home, plus see features of the neighborhood.
Construction on the first round of homes is expected to be finished by the middle of 2019, and the entire development will take three to five years to build out.