(Read more on the multifamily market.)

HOUSTON-In a 22-day contract to close, an El Paso-based multifamily developer has scooped up a 21.1-acre site in the Energy Corridor. With the dirt in hand, the plan is to break ground in early 2008 on the first 300 apartments of a 600-unit, market-rate complex.

Bohannon Development Corp. has lassoed ready-to-go land at the corner of Kingsland Boulevard and Barker Cypress Road–the only likely multifamily-developable acreage bordered by George Bush Park and the historic LH7 Ranch. “There were a lot of offers on the table, with one, if not two, behind ours,” Tim Dosch, vice president for Apartment Realty Advisors in Houston, tells GlobeSt.com. “They basically got the last viable piece for apartments.”

Bohannon isn’t planning to merchant build the still-unnamed project, but it’s still pretty early in the planning game to rule out any options. “We bought it so fast and we were looking at all options during the closing process,” Dosch explains. In all likelihood, he says the plan will be build, stabilize and hold at least for awhile. Selling, he adds, is “an option they’re willing to look at in a few years.” What Bohannon will be selling, though, is the Kingsland Boulevard frontage. Dosch says several office condo developers have opened talks with the new owner for all or part of the available dirt.

In the submarket, dirt can be as costly as $15 per sf to $20 per sf in some pockets. The going rate for apartment dirt has been $5 per sf to $7 per sf, which would put Bohannon’s acquisition at nearly $6.4 million based on the high end of the scale. The seller was Dallas-based W The Real Estate Co., led by president and CEO Kevin G. White.

Dosch says Bohannon’s plan is to develop a class A, western-theme development to stay true to the site’s history. The tract abuts a historic church and the farmhouse of LH7 Ranch, a longhorn cattle-breeding landmark. If the plan stays on track, the first of two multifamily phases will come on line before 2008 ends. “They’re going to try to get it on the ground as soon as possible,” he adds.

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