By summer, bulldozers will be moving ground at Taurus of Texas’ Whisper Valley and Indian Hills, two multi-use developments totaling 2,300 acres along the Texas 130 corridor, Taurus’ president Doug Gilliland said Wednesday.
Texas Gas Service already is laying gas lines at the projects. The next step is to build roads, water lines and sewers.
“The engineering work is wrapping up. We’re ready to get going on infrastructure,” Gilliland told me at a breakfast meeting of the Urban Land Institute’s Austin chapter.
Whisper Valley is east of the toll road, on a planned extension of Braker Lane. Indian Hills is west of the toll road off Decker Lake Road. Combined, the plans are for about 9,000 new homes and apartments, plus about 10 million square feet of office, high-end industrial and commercial space.
Whisper Valley also will include a 600-acre park, one of the largest in Austin.
“It will be a very sustainable community,” Gilliland said.
The timing could not be better: Austin’s economy is taking off in ways that may remind some of you of the late 1990s boom, with strong job growth and other factors driving demand for new housing.
Home building will start next year at Whisper Valley and Indian Hills. The Taurus projects are moving at a faster pace than other planned projects along the toll road, thanks to nearly $40 million in financing it got late last year to cover infrastructure costs.
The company turned to an infrequently used financial vehicle called a public improvement district to raise money through bond sales. Unlike the more common municipal utility district, a city-approved public improvement district gives developers money upfront for public infrastructure.
At the southern end of the Texas 130 corridor, other infrastructure plans are moving forward. Last week, the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority said it would negotiate with Walton International Group, a Canadian land management and development firm, on a plan to bring water to five counties, including Hays and Caldwell, in the fast-growing Austin-San Antonio corridor.
Walton, which owns about 8,000 acres in that area, could become an “anchor partner” for the river authority’s planned Mid-Basin Water Supply Project, according to a news release quoting Bill West, the river authority’s general manager.
The Mid-Basin initiative will try to find surface and ground water sources and ways to deliver 25,000 acre-feet to that area.
That could help planned projects like Dalcan’s 3,400 acre Cherryville mixed-use development at Texas 130 and State Highway 80. Cherryville is the largest announced project in the corridor.
Walton prefers to operate below the radar, so details about its plans are hard to come by. It looks like the firm is positioning itself to become a major player in opening a new part of the region to large-scale development.
Bluebonnet is committed to helping promote sustainable development along the toll road corridor, where it provides much of the power, said General Manager Mark Rose.
“We know that growth will come to the area along the toll road. It’s important that it’s done in an economically beneficial and environmentally responsible way,” he said. “Bluebonnet is looking forward to working with developers and businesses to provide reliable, competitively priced power.”
Kathy Warbelow is a guest contributor to The Bluebonnet Blog. She’s lived in Austin since 1996 and was the business editor at the Austin American-Statesman for 10 years.