By Kathryn Hardison – Staff Writer, Austin Business Journal
Developable land will hit the market early next year in an industrial park that's planned south of Austin.
With industrial space in high demand across Central Texas, the Lockhart Economic Development Corp. is paving the way for a 75-acre industrial park that will feature shovel-ready parcels available for purchase. The EDC will buy and develop the site just off State Highway 130 — about 27 miles south of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
The park would be the largest in Lockhart — which has two other industrial parks, one of which is full — and the parcels will be divvied into sites at least 10 acres in size, EDC Director Mike Kamerlander said. The plans currently show one site as large as 30 acres. The EDC is also eyeing also land nearby for a potential expansion depending on the success of the project, Kamerlander said.
A company has already agreed to purchase 10 acres of the park for nearly $545,000, though Kamerlander was unable to disclose additional details by press time.
Industrial buildings, such as warehouses and distribution centers, are hard to come by right now, with vacancy of 7.4% in the third quarter in the Austin metro — down from 8.5% in the second quarter, according to NAI Partners. More and more people are shopping online during the pandemic, and large users like Amazon.com Inc. have taken large swaths of industrial space this year.
Real estate experts predict demand for this type of space will only continue to climb.
"Demand for industrial and manufacturing space in Austin and the surrounding communities should be steady for the foreseeable future, and any shovel-ready, developable sites will attract tenants," said Sam Owen, senior vice president of Stream Realty Partners' industrial division in Austin, adding that 75 acres won't substantially impact the market's current supply.
The EDC will develop the site with full infrastructure already available — such as utilities, water, electric, fiber connectivity and road infrastructure — and the land will already be zoned for industrial use. Companies will need to go through the subdivision process with the city before building on the land, Kamerlander said.
The sites should be available for sale in January 2021, and infrastructure construction is expected to be done by the summer, which would allow companies to build on the land while the park is being developed.
The development is part of the Lockhart EDC's strategy to attract certain industries to the community, such as manufacturing. The Caldwell County town has long been known for barbecue and antiques but more companies and people are looking to relocate there to escape the higher costs of Austin.
"This is our plan to be more competitive and hopefully be in a better place to win some competitive economic development projects in the future," Kamerlander said. "Being able to serve both Austin and San Antonio is really important to a lot of companies. We think that connectivity and the location of this park is going to be ... why it will be so enticing to people."
The park is about an hour northeast of San Antonio.
Manufacturing jobs has swelled in Central Texas in the past decade, growing 27% from 2009 to 2019. There were nearly 450 high-tech manufacturing firms in the region last year, according to Texas Workforce Commission data.
The EDC is planning an overall investment of $6.7 million to develop the park. The first phase, which includes developing infrastructure that would open four tracts to development, is expected to cost roughly $5.1 million. That will be funded by $1.5 million in the EDC's fund balance, $1.6 million of the EDC's sales tax revenue bonds, a $1.5 million contribution from Caldwell County and the land sale that's already planned. Phase II of the development will begin once land sale proceeds can cover the cost of remaining site improvements.
The EDC received the green light from the Lockhart City Council on Dec. 1 to move forward with the land purchase. Kamerlander said the property will likely be under contract sometime this week.
“This industrial park is an important investment in Lockhart’s growth,” Mayor Lew White said in a statement. “The types of companies Lockhart will be able to accommodate with a large industrial park will have the ability to create jobs, increase and diversify the city’s property tax base, and provide us with more partners who will give back to our community."
Other large industrial projects underway in the Austin metro include a nearly 150-acre business park in Georgetown by Titan Development Real Estate, Kyle Crossing Business Park by Majestic Realty Co. and Plum Creek Industrial Center in Kyle by NorthPoint Development.