Downtown Austin development looks to cash in on condo market

Sep 19, 2013
Austin Business Journal

Downtown Austin's Seaholm development has converted its residential units from 309 apartments to 280 condominiums, according to the website for the project


The switch could position Seaholm as one of the only projects downtown offering condos in an Austin real estate market that has been starved for condo inventory. If the shift proves successful, it could be an indicator that the financial markets backing developments are returning to prerecession strength


In 2007, buyers were willing to put down money for a home that would not be ready for two or three years, said Larry Warshaw, partner in Austin-based developer Constructive Ventures. After the recession, both homebuyers and financiers became much more hesitant to put up capital for a project years from delivery


As a result, many buildings recently completed or planned in Austin have been built as easier-to-finance apartments, Warshaw said


"We're basically running out of [condo] inventory," said Charles Heimsath, of Austin's real estate research firm Capitol Market Research. "Anything less than $1.5 million, there just isn't anything available."


Seaholm, a $125 million mixed-use project by developer Seaholm Power LLC, has not revealed floor plans for the condos


News of the switch has already raised some expectations in the development community


"If this works out for them it signals that those waters are safe again," Warshaw of Constructive Ventures said. "I'm going to be watching it closely to see if we want to jump back in as well."


Others suggested that the switch to condos could go well for Seaholm. "I would think that they would do extremely well," Heimsath said


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