Business digest: Work starts on 226-unit apartment project


REAL ESTATE

Work starts on 226-unit apartment project

Developers have broken ground on a 226-unit apartment complex just west of downtown Austin.

CWS Capital Partners LLC and Oden Hughes LLC said their six-story project at 1301 W. Fifth St. will have one-, two- and three-bedroom units, with 10 percent rented at below-market rates to qualified households. The project has not yet been named, and the projected cost is not being released.

The complex, due to open in late 2018, will include nearly 2,200 square feet of ground-floor retail space. Amenities will include a fifth-floor lounge and deck with skyline and lake views; a resort-style pool and sundeck on the second floor; a game room with billiards and an arcade; a dog park and indoor dog-washing room; and a bike workshop and bike storage.

Mac McElwrath, managing director for Oden Hughes, said the project sits in a prime location, with 2 million square feet of retail amenities — including the Whole Foods Market flagship store and some of the area’s most popular restaurants and bars — within a mile of the site.

This is the first project co-developed by the two Austin-based companies.

Oden Hughes Construction is the general contractor, and Kelly Grossman Architects designed the project.

RETAIL

Target hires grocery veteran to recharge its food division

Target Corp. has named a grocery industry veteran to help recharge its sluggish food division.

The Minneapolis, Minn.-based chain said Monday that Jeff Burt will assume the title of senior vice president, grocery, fresh food and beverage on April 10.

Burt replaces Anne Dament, who left last November after only 18 months on the job.

Burt was most recently the president of the Fred Meyer division of Kroger Co. and worked at that company for 30 years.

The hire is the latest in a series of executive changes by CEO Brian Cornell, who has been spearheading Target’s reinvention. The grocery business is critical for pulling in customers to Target stores.

BANKING

Wells Fargo still feeling impact of sales practices scandal

Wells Fargo is still seeing fewer people at its bank branches as well as a decline in checking-account openings as the scandal over its sales practices takes its toll.

But there is a silver lining for the bank: Its February numbers are up from December lows.

Wells Fargo said Monday that customers opened 40 percent fewer checking accounts per day last month compared to a year earlier, while the number of customer interactions with branch bankers per day was down 17 percent. The numbers are similar to those it has been reporting since it started giving monthly updates late last year.

Credit card applications also fell sharply, dropping by 53 percent.

TRAVEL

Airlines expect 4 percent rise in passengers this spring

Coming off another highly profitable year in 2016, U.S. airlines expect traffic this spring to increase 4 percent over last year, and they are adding seats to handle the crush.

The trade group Airlines for America forecast Monday that a record 145 million U.S. passengers will fly between March 1 and April 30.

The group’s chief economist said traffic will rise because airfares fell over the last two years while economic indicators such as household wealth and job creation are rising.

There are signs, however, that the run of lower airfares — made possible by cheaper jet fuel — is ending.

American Airlines expects a key revenue-per-seat figure to rise between 1.5 percent and 3.5 percent in the first quarter after falling throughout 2015 and 2016, and other carriers are close behind.

For the airlines, it looks like the good times will keep rolling.

Last year, U.S. airlines carried a record 823 million passengers and earned $22.3 billion in pretax income, down just $1 billion from the stellar results in 2015.

Pretax profit margins topped 14 percent in both 2015 and 2016. That’s the closest the industry has ever been to the U.S. corporate average — 15.8 percent last year — according to their trade group.



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