AUSTIN-The Austin region’s high-tech market fits nicely into development plans of United Dominion Realty Trust, headquartered in Richmond, VA.

The REIT has projects under way in Austin and San Antonio and one in the planning stages for a 10-acre parcel in Round Rock, just 20 miles north of the state capital. Earlier this year, United Dominion had started selling off older suburban communities nationwide and curtailing developments in those types of markets in favor of high-tech centers, such as the Austin region. The economically strong high-tech markets are bursting with what the REIT depicts as “echo boomers” and immigrants, two of the fastest-growing groups of renters.

United Dominion plans to build a high-density, four-story complex in Round Rock. The development plan and design won’t be ready until January, Dan Baber, United Dominion’s Western Division project manager, tells Construction isn’t expected to begin until fall 2001 and will take an estimated 18 months to complete. “That’s the soonest we could get it going … and get it through the city process,” he says. The project, which carries an estimated $28-million construction price tag, will boast a high-end finish-out, with possibly wood and ceramic flooring.

Meanwhile, United Dominion’s construction division is prepping to turn over a 4,296-sf clubhouse to the REIT’s leasing entity for Red Stone Ranch, located in the Cedar Park suburb in the northwest Austin submarket. Baber says the clubhouse will be handed over at the beginning of December, a move that will launch leasing. The first units will be ready for occupancy in February for the 324-apartment community positioned on slightly more than 18 acres at 1600 Lakeline Blvd. The 18-building project, which is costing $16.6 million to co0nstruct, will be completed in summer 2001, Baber says.

A 14-building community in San Antonio is nearly finished, with one more structure left to turn over for leasing. The 312-unit Escalante Phase II, situated on 17.6 acres at 1400 W. Bitters Rd., supplements a first phase that had been part of an acquisition package a few years back. The second phase, carrying a $15.4-million price tag, includes a 4,210-sf clubhouse.

All of the units being developed contain what United Dominion feels is standard fare: crown molding, six or two-panel interior doors, French-style patio doors, 18.2-cubic foot refrigerators with icemakers, intrusion alarms and fire sprinkler systems, an amenity not necessarily required in all apartment communities. Archon architects of Dallas has designed all of the projects in the Austin region.

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