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AUSTIN-Gables Residential is getting ready to start work on a 459-unit project in northwest Austin and it may be the start of a flurry of building and buying in Austin from the Boca Raton, FL-based company.

“We’re looking at some very core acquisitions,” Kevin Pape, Gables’ regional vice president, tells GlobeSt.com. “We’ve both developed and acquired properties here in Austin and we have a couple of properties we’re looking at…as well as several properties that are under review for acquisition.” He says the properties are oriented toward the central part of the city “from 360 (Capital of Texas Highway) on in.”

In Austin, Gables has seven apartment communities with a total of 1,677 units in the northwest, central and south submarkets. “We’re long-term holders and builders, so we’re here in Austin for the duration,” Pape says. “We’ve experienced the highs as well as the current situation.”

The current multifamily situation in Austin includes a 90.6% occupancy rate, average rents of $715 per month and prominent concessions to renters. David Fitch, Gables’ chief investment officer, tells GlobeSt.com that the company has faith in the Austin market and its ability to rebound from the downturn. “We believe the market has strong resiliency,” Fitch says. “We’re beginning to see signs of things stabilizing a bit.”

The newest project, Gables Grandview, will sit on 98 acres atop a hill on the northwest corner of Capital of Texas Highway and RM 2222. The hill rises 400 feet from the highway. Gables bought the property from Austin’s Champion family which has owned land around the intersection for more than 100 years.

Fitch says that when Grandview begins delivering units in early 2004, it will be into a recovering market. “We’re very confident in our geographic decision and the ability of the Austin market in the coming recovery.”

Pape declines to discuss rents, but says they’ll perform with the high end of the market.” The complex will have one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging size from 700 sf to 1,500 sf. Amenities include a resort-style pool, a fitness center, a business center and game room. Dallas-based architectural firm Fuch-Serold & Partners designed Grandview. JPI Construction is the contractor.

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