Thursday, October 9, 2008

Waco Real Estate "Retirees are Coming to Texas"

Texas Real Estate Center
Tierra Grande
TG2GO, October 2008by Randy Birdwell (10/24/2008)

Want to know why wind power is a hot issue these days, or how Texas and national foreclosure levels compare? Do you know where to get the scoop on your soil, or why an increasing number of retirees are coming to Texas? Find out in this edition of TG2GO, hosted by Edie Craig. (6 min. 9 sec.)

Frontera Development is a full service real estate development firm based in Waco, Texas. The firm focuses on residential, commercial developments and master planned communities that emphasize the values of New Urbanism and Traditional Neighborhood Development.

For more information, contact Mark P. Felton II at 254-495-1241.

Cotton Crossing
Rancho Lorena
Front Porch Homes

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New Chamber Building Features Solar Power

Solar Ceremony
By Mike Copeland | Wednesday, September 24, 2008, 02:30 PM

The new Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce headquarters near Heritage Square hosted a ceremony today at which Mayor Virginia DuPuy and chamber president Jim Vaughan thanked Green Mountain Energy for the donation of 48 solar panels that will be used to meet the energy needs of the 14,000-square-foot building.

The solar array on top of the chamber building covers nearly 720 square feet and will offset about 6.5 percent of the building’s annual electrical use.

Attending the ceremony were third-grade students from Sul Ross Elementary and Super Earth, who is Green Mountain Energy’s mascot.

Green Mountain Energy has signed a two-year contract with the Waco chamber to provide electricity at the new headquarters.

The chamber is pursuing a LEEDs designation for the “green” building that has such features as a living roof and flooring made of crushed glass. LEEDs stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designation, and the designation is awarded by the U.S. Green Energy Council.

Frontera Development is a full service real estate development firm based in Waco, Texas. The firm focuses on residential, commercial developments and master planned communities that emphasize the values of New Urbanism and Traditional Neighborhood Development. For more information, contact Mark P. Felton II at 254-495-1241.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Waco Business News: New Jobs Keep Texas Housing Going

TG2GO, July 2008
by Randy Birdwell (8/19/2008)

Associate Editor Bryan Pope hosts this edition of TG2GO, which features articles from the July 2008 edition of Tierra Grande magazine. Hear how new jobs keep Texas housing going. Watch Chief Economist Dr. Mark Dotzour explain what has to happen for housing to begin recovery. Learn about Texas' sizzling rural land market. And see Austin's plan for a clean energy business park. (4 min. 37sec.)

Frontera Development is a full service real estate development firm based in Waco, Texas. The firm focuses on residential, commercial developments and master planned communities that emphasize the values of New Urbanism and Traditional Neighborhood Development.

For more information, contact Mark P. Felton II at 254-495-1241.

Cotton Crossing
Rancho Lorena
Front Porch Homes

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Waco Real Estate "LEED Commercial Buildings on the Rise"

TG2GO, April 2008
by Randy Birdwell (7/25/2008)

No time to read Tierra Grande, the Real Estate Center’s quarterly magazine? Then catch the highlights with TG2GO. In the premiere edition, host Elaine Lovell talks about energy efficient commercial buildings, why homeowners are going green, and efforts the King Ranch has made toward wildlife preservation. (3 min. 35 sec.)

Frontera Development is a full service real estate development firm based in Waco, Texas. The firm focuses on residential, commercial developments and master planned communities that emphasize the values of New Urbanism and Traditional Neighborhood Development.

For more information, contact Mark P. Felton II at 254-495-1241.

Cotton Crossing
Rancho Lorena
Front Porch Homes

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Waco Real Estate "Class A Office Space Expanding"

In the next year, there will be the unprecedented addition of more than 150,000 sf of Class A office space in downtown Waco with more to come, according to Chris McGowan, director of urban development for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce. A majority of the space being developed is speculative Class A lease space. Another major trend is the development of close to 400 acres of professional and medical parks in the southwest corridor of Waco. Within a two-mile radius, construction of Class A lease space for ancillary medical and professional services is growing. The completion of the $48.5 million Providence Health Center expansion, the construction of Hillcrest Health System's $184 million campus and the announcement of a $48 million expansion by the Central Texas VA Health System are driving development. Significant business park additions in the Southwest area include Central Professional Park, Legends Crossing, Point West and Ridgewood Professional Park. At full capacity, these developments forecast the addition of 650,000 sf of professional and medical office buildings, McGowan said. In addition to this new development, several leases recently have closed in the Southwest corridor. Waco Center for Women's Health and Heart of Texas Pediatrics leased 18,000 sf and 12,000 sf, respectively, in the Central Texas Medical Center. Jackson Health Care completed a 10,000-sf lease in the Texas Central Park. There is considerable interest in downtown office development, partly due to the nationwide trend toward downtown revitalization and partly due to a strong commitment from local leaders in both the public and private sectors to ensure a healthy sustainable future for our urban areas. The renovation of the historic Roosevelt Hotel into Class A office space in downtown Waco; the construction of the new mixed-use Waco Town Square; the new Chamber of Commerce headquarters; and a new Wells Fargo Bank building all within a block of each other are leading the way in the office market as a part of the resurgence of downtown Waco. The range for Class A rental rates downtown currently is $1.25 to $1.55 NNN. The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce has recently announced its goal of realizing a Billion Dollar Decade. By bringing together key investors, and working under a common vision, the chamber predicts $1 billion of new development in downtown Waco and along the Brazos River corridor. More than $120 million of new private investment has been announced in downtown Waco over the past year. Coupling that with a large public commitment totaling more than $200 million of new public improvements in the same area begins to paint a picture of a very bright future for downtown Waco.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Waco Business News "Construction underway on 900 megawatt power plant"

(Riesel) - Construction is underway on Sandy Creek Energy Station, a 900-megawatt coal-fired power plant just outside of Riesel. The stack will one day be a prominent sight on the eastern McLennan County horizon. Once completed at 360 feet high, it will be almost 60 feet taller than downtown Waco's ALICO building. It's the first major structure on the 700-acre spread off Rattlesnake Road, two miles west of Riesel. After another ten to 12 months of earth moving and utility installation, workers will start putting steel in the ground as they construct the plant's boiler house. Already, about 110 construction workers are employed at the site. By 2010, about 1,200 people will work at the plant during the peak of construction to make it operational by 2012. After it is built, the plant will employ about 100 people full time. Zachry Construction, the project's top contractor, starts its general laborers at $9.50 and $11 an hour. Wages range upward from there.

For the complete story:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Waco's Downtown Projects Coming to Fruition

Just west of Heritage Square, construction has begun on the million-dollar concrete slab for the Austin Avenue Flats. It's an apt symbol for downtown's redevelopment, which has been years in the making but is only now beginning to bloom. Tens of millions of dollars in new businesses, construction projects and building renovations are already underway. This year alone, downtown will see the completion of a new headquarters for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce and the first 47 luxury condos in the $75 million mixed-use development around Heritage Square. Work will begin next month on a 368-bed upscale student housing complex as part of the same project. The $17 million renovation of the Waco Hilton will wrap up next month, and the $17.5 million reinvention of the Waco Convention Center will begin this fall. And the ripple effect is spreading several blocks up Austin Avenue, where an art gallery, a new restaurant, loft apartments, offices and a major bar/music venue are in various stages of development. The City of Waco and two downtown special tax districts have invested millions of dollars in infrastructure projects around town over the past two decades. Private investors have done multimillion-dollar projects such as RiverSquare Center, Behrens Lofts and the Insurors of Texas building. David Wallace's group also is developing the student housing component across Washington Avenue from the mixed-use project, next door to the Courtyard by Marriott. Wallace pulled permits on the $22.3 million student housing project this week and plans to begin work in the next 30 days. The complex is set to open in fall 2009. The five-story student housing complex will have several rows of parking in front, as well as parking under the building.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Waco's VA Medical Center $49 Million Expansion

WACO (Waco Tribune-Herald) – The 75-year old Waco Veterans Affairs Medical Center received government funding to expand and renovate its campus. Projects include:
creating the Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans, a mental health research center with offices and labs;
relocating and expanding the Blind Rehabilitation Unit to 30 beds, with rehabilitation and training space;
expanding and enhancing mental health treatment for inpatient acute, intermediate and long-term psychiatry;
renovating long-term and rehabilitative facilities, including a pool; and
repairing and replacing the campus infrastructure for the growth of new programs.
The improvements will cost $49 million.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Waco Distribution Center, Tractor Supply, set to expand by 347,000 sq/ft

WACO (Waco Tribune-Herald) – Texas Tractor Supply will expand its distribution center by 347,000 sf by September.
The Tennessee-based company is spending $10 million to double its facility, which opened in 2003 at I-35 and SH 6. The facility will be the company's second largest once the expansion is completed.
At least 44 people will be hired to work in the newly expanded distribution center, pushing employment to almost 190.
Bob Moore Construction of Arlington will oversee the expansion.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Waco residents get first look at Interstate 35 Brazos River Bridge

Proposal to build new I-35 bridge becomes entangled in toll road debate

Wednesday, January 23, 2008By David DoerrTribune-Herald staff writer

Real-estate developer Rick Sheldon wowed Waco residents in November when he unveiled drawings of an iconic version of the Interstate 35 Brazos River bridge designed to look like the city’s landmark Suspension Bridge.

The new I-35 bridge would serve as a gateway for visitors passing through town and a point of pride for area residents. But after consulting Texas Department of Transportation officials on financing such a project in these lean times for highway expansion, it turns out there is only one way to do it: tolls.

The tolls, which proved to be a point of contention at Tuesday’s Waco City Council meeting, would be used to expand the highway from six to eight lanes between South Loop 340 and Elm Mott. The tolls would be charged only on the added two lanes.

Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization staff proposed the toll lanes in December to address area transportation needs while dealing with significant cuts in state and federal funding. Now it appears the toll lanes will be the linchpin in Sheldon’s effort to update the look of the I-35 bridge over the Brazos.

“There is still a chance that we could do it without the tolls, but it is going to take forever, and I don’t know if I will be real interested in working on it then,” he said. “I’m not going to do it in 10 years.” Sheldon, a San Antonio native now living in Waco, has proposed developments totaling nearly $1 billion along Lake Brazos, including restaurants, housing, a new near-campus football stadium for Baylor University and a 250- to 300-room hotel. He doesn’t control all of the projects, but he is working to form a partnership to make them happen. His bridge proposal garnered praise such as “breathtaking” from various civic leaders when it was unveiled. The toll lane proposal initially was met mostly with criticism and derision when it was announced.
But now the two projects are linked together and that could change people’s ideas about both. There won’t be a lot of time to debate their merits if the MPO’s policy board votes Tuesday to remove the toll provision from planning documents it must submit to the federal government in February. So Sheldon is calling to extend the debate by keeping the toll proposal in the MPO’s plans. The decision whether to go ahead with the projects would be made at a later time.
“I think (the bridge proposal) starts the debate, and that is all I am asking for,” Sheldon said. “Let’s not have the debate for a week, let’s have it for a year. You can always vote to change it (later). All we’re saying is, let’s please don’t preclude this as an option because it really hurts our chances of getting this thing built.”

The rebuilt bridge would not actually be a suspension bridge, but would have beams and cables to suggest the same look, Sheldon said. The aesthetic enhancements would probably cost between $5 million and $10 million, he said. Richard Skopik, the transportation department’s Waco region engineer, said the only way to finance reconstructing the bridge in the current transportation funding climate would be to add toll lanes. He said the transportation department isn’t planning to replace the nearly 50-year-old bridge unless the toll lane expansion project is approved. “To add an aesthetic structure, as has been suggested, you could modify the existing bridge, but I think the intent and the vision was to have a brand new bridge that could encompass these concepts,” Skopik said. However, he emphasized that bridge enhancements would not automatically come with the construction of toll lanes. Funding from other public or private sources would be needed to pay for the features that would make it look like a suspension bridge, he said. Sheldon suggested that a private company could be found to operate the toll lanes and pay to make the enhancements. However, the Texas Legislature passed a moratorium on such public-private toll projects last year. Skopik said the proposal is designed for the transportation department to manage tolling operations.

MPO director Chris Evilia has had to cut 13 out of 23 highway projects in McLennan County since transportation officials announced in late September there would be no money to add capacity to the state’s road system after this year. State transportation officials have blamed the funding crisis on rising construction costs, federal cutbacks and state diversions of declining gas tax revenues. Even with the deep cuts in the number of local transportation projects, Evilia still is about $11 million short to fund the remaining 10 projects on his list. The projects are designed to expand highway capacity to meet the state’s growing population. MPO staff estimates tolls would provide up to 40 percent of the funding to expand the highway to eight lanes. Transportation officials indicate state coffers could pay the remaining 60 percent.
Tolls could also generate an additional $5.7 million to $10.9 million that could be used for other transportation projects in McLennan County, according to MPO planning documents.
Sheldon said the paradigm for funding roads in Texas is shifting whether people like it or not.
“For a lot of folks it is wishful thinking,” he said, referring to their aversion to toll projects. “They want things back to how it was in ‘Leave it to Beaver’ time. It ain’t that way anymore. Go look at the Legislature. They haven’t raised gasoline taxes since 1991. Every time it comes up, it’s a nonstarter.”

Frustration with the current transportation funding picture was evident during Tuesday’s Waco City Council meeting in which members were briefed on the issue and the toll road proposal.
Councilman Randy Riggs said it was “almost extortion” to have to choose between adding toll lanes to I-35 and losing funds for other projects in the Waco area. He blamed federal and state lawmakers for not taking action. “(Expanding I-35) is something that our citizens need and deserve and it should be a state or a federal issue as opposed to a local issue,” Riggs said. “This is just wrong in my mind to say we will help you with your transportation issues if you do what your citizens don’t want done.” Although most council members expressed frustration about being forced to consider the toll lanes, a majority appeared willing to recommend to the MPO’s policy board to keep the proposal in their planning documents. City Manager Larry Groth suggested that keeping the toll proposal in the MPO’s plans would allow the transportation department to move ahead with surveying and preparation to expand the highway even if local officials decide against the toll lanes at a later time.

“If we approve this with the tolls in it, we can keep I-35 in the plan,” he said. “That means that the state can continue working on the design, layout and all that other stuff so there is not a delay, and in my mind that means we stay on this track we need to be on.”
Before Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Joe Mashek, MPO policy board chairman and a McLennan County commissioner, said he opposes the toll lanes even though Sheldon’s bridge enhancement project is linked to it. “They are kind of holding a gun to our head saying ‘If you don’t do this, you aren’t going to get this,’ ” he said. “It’s a no-win situation because most people are against this toll road on I-35.”

Frontera Development is a full service real estate development firm based in Waco, Texas. The firm focuses on residential, commercial developments and master planned communities that emphasize the values of New Urbanism and Traditional Neighborhood Development. For more information, contact Mark P. Felton II at 254-495-1241.