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SAN ANTONIO-Multifamily construction is booming in San Antonio despite soft rent growth, says Holliday Fenoglio Fowler’s research team in its latest report for the region.

An estimated 3,975 units had been in the pipeline at first quarter’s end, with some 1,700 delivering in the last quarter. The fast-growing submarkets of the far north central and far northwest are the primary beneficiaries of the new construction.

The city’s stead demand is driven by a stable economy and hardy population growth, explains Ed Frieze, the Holliday Fenoglio Fowler researcher who put together the latest overview. The 102,000-unit inventory is carrying an overall 92% occupancy, down 1.1 points from first quarter 2000. The problem, he says, is class A, which is currently 85.1% occupied in comparison to an “all’s full” sign on class B inventory and 93.3% on the city’s class C units, which represents about 84% of the market. In the past year, 4,129 units, many class A product, have delivered while just 2,934 have been absorbed.

San Antonio has been on a fast track to catch up with its sister Texas metropolises in practically every area of the commercial growth sector. Since 1996, more than 17,200 units have delivered. Despite the new product, rent growth in the past year–for all apartment classes–has come in at an average 3 cents per sf. It translates into a 3.3% hike for class A units while class B has remained stable. The overall average monthly rent is $591, up $28 from the end of first quarter 2000.

Projects to watch are the 475,000-sf makeover of a former machinery manufacturing plant into offices, restaurants and lofts as well as Birkel International Partners 348-unit undertaking on the former Turtle Creek Golf Course. Also in the pipeline is an 18- to 22-unit condo project in the historic King William neighborhood. Developer James Lifshutz has bought the former First Mexican Baptist Church for the project and is planning condos ranging in price from $100,000 to $325,000 for 750 sf to 2,500 sf.

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