AUSTIN-Real Estate Development Services, a Houston-based developer, is tackling its first Austin project–a $40-million, 536-unit complex situated on 38 acres in the Northwest Corridor.

And, Austin’s explosive economy is the bait that has lured the developer, which specializes in multifamily, subdivisions and office projects, to the city. “There’s a very strong demand, 98% occupancy and a market with a strong population growth and job growth,” Bob Stratton, Real Estate Development Services’ president, told

“The Verandah,” a class-A development near Lake Travis, is Stratton’s largest undertaking in the company’s four-year history. The project broke ground yesterday and is scheduled for completion in two years. In a city where a “view tax” is assessed on renters, this development is situated in the heart of the Hill Country, known for its rolling hills, outstanding rock formations and eclectic villages with tourist-based economies. The property also is within sight of a nature preserve.

The transaction represents the first of five commercial frontage sites, totaling more than 150 acres, being marketed by NAI/Commercial Industrial Properties Co. for owner Grandview Hills, Tomen-Parke Inc., a New York-based land investor and developer. Tomen-Parke has owned the land since the early 90s, recently completing installation of required water and wastewater systems.

“The market demand for fully entitled office, retail and multifamily sites with utilities along RM 620 is extremely strong,” Frank Niendorff, NAI/Commercial president, says. “In fact, RM 620 has become the next development growth ring in the west side of Austin.”

The apartments and town homes will boast an average size of 1,076 sf and include amenities such as indoor basketball courts, fitness center, outdoor bar, entertainment facility, verandahs and attached garages.

Real Estate Development Services has constructed 1,000 units in Houston. The Hill Country project is just the first for the company, which holds options on several surrounding parcels, says Stratton, who is mum about the nature of the upcoming projects. He anticipates closing those deals by year’s end.

The Verandah has been designed by Wahlberg, Wright & Baxter of Houston, with Real Estate Construction Inc., a subsidiary of the developer, serving as general contractor.

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