$700 million development planned for Georgetown

A $700 million master-planned project is in the works for Georgetown that could bring 2,000 houses, hundreds of apartments and other development to a fast-growing part of the Central Texas region.

The developer of the proposed 755-acre Wolf Ranch project is Hillwood Communities, a Texas-based real estate firm owned by Ross Perot Jr. The land consists of two separate tracts along Texas 29 off Wolf Ranch Parkway, about 1 mile from the city’s courthouse square.

Hillwood expects to break ground in the spring of 2015 and have the first model homes ready a year later, in what Hillwood executive Brian Carlock said is the largest master-planned community for Georgetown to date. Home prices would range from the high $200,000s to about $550,000.

To meet changing demographic needs, Hillwood also plans to develop a smaller-size home with smaller yards, with prices for those projected to be in the $300,000 to $400,000 range. Builders have not yet been selected.

Plans call for more than 300 apartments. Hillwood has not yet decided if it will develop the multifamily portion itself or bring another apartment developer on board.

Wolf Ranch is expected to be home to about 4,000 residents when completed in phases over the next eight to 10 years, said Brian Carlock, senior vice president with Hillwood. The project has approvals for up to 2,024 homes, 388 apartments and 20.5 acres of commercial development. About 140 acres will remain open space, Carlock said.

Carlock said the Georgetown area’s Hill Country views, quality of life, school districts, and existing and future road connections make it a sought-after place to live.

“We really think that Georgetown is on the cusp of an explosive time period and is going to inherit a lot of the high-quality retail, office and residential growth, largely because most of it is built out to the south. It’s the next natural market,” Carlock said.

Hillwood also has plans for a mixed-use development with shops offices and housing on 160 acres owned by the Wolf family at the northwest corner of Texas 29 and Interstate 35, although it is not yet gone to the city for any approvals yet.

The land for Hillwood’s Wolf Ranch project would be annexed, adding to the tax base of the city of Georgetown, the local school district, Williamson County and other taxing entities.

Hillwood’s Wolf Ranch would be developed under a municipal utility district, or MUD. That’s an entity that provides public utilities to residents who live in the district. A MUD issues bonds to reimburse developers for water, sewer and other infrastructure costs.

The Georgetown City Council this week voted to create the MUD. Hillwood will now petition the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to formally establish the MUD.

Eldon Rude, a local housing industry expert, said the Georgetown area is poised to see “a significant level of new-home activity over the next five to 10 years,” both because of its desirability and as new-home communities south of RM 1431 sell out.

“This is a logical place for it to occur,” said Rude, principal of 360 Real Estate Analytics, an Austin-based consulting firm, noting that several other residential communities are springing up in the vicinity, including Water Oak, the Oaks at San Gabriel and Santa Rita.

Rude said Georgetown’s permits for single-family homebuilding increased about 50 percent in 2013, to 1,030 from from 691 in 2012. The median price of a resale home was $248,250 year-to-date through June, up 10 percent from the first half of last year.

The proposed Wolf Ranch project would expand Hillwood’s presence in Central Texas. Other projects include Rocky Creek Ranch off Hamilton Pool Road, where Hillwood has built about 275 of 390 total homes planned, with average prices of $550,000, Carlock said. Hillwood also is developing Sarita Valley in Leander, which is planned for about 300 homes with average prices of about $450,000.

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