Goodnight project breaks ground in Southeast Austin

Just over a decade after it was first slated to start, construction has begun in Southeast Austin on a master-planned community that is being billed as one of Central Texas’ most dense mixed-use projects since new development transformed the city’s former 700-acre Mueller airport site.

Like Mueller in Northeast Austin, the Goodnight project near Interstate 35 and Slaughter Lane consists of 700 acres. The first phase of will consist of 104 single-family homes and nine duplexes, plus 35 acres of parkland. Most of the houses in the first phase are expected to be ready by mid-2017.

Next year, construction is scheduled to start on 90 townhouses. In the coming months, work also will begin on the first of several neighborhood parks.

Homes in the first phase will be priced at less than $300,000, local experts say.

The project is being developed by Austin Goodnight Ranch, a collaboration between Benchmark Development and the Goodnight family that has owned the land since the 1960s.

Residences in the first phase will consist of 58 homes by Centerra Homes priced from the $240,000s; 46 homes by M/I Homes priced from the $260,000s; and 18 duplex units from AVI Homes priced from the $220,000s.

“Goodnight is coming at a time where attainable housing options are needed in Austin,” said Dean Goodnight, managing partner for the Goodnight family interests. He added that the family is committed to “thoughtfully redeveloping the ranch we’ve enjoyed for over 50 years.”

As Goodnight is built out over the next 10 to 15 years, its home prices likely will increase due to changes in market conditions and the diverse housing styles that will be built there, Benchmark officials said.

Once completed, Goodnight is expected to have about: 3,500 homes; 226,000 square feet of retail and office space; 120 acres of public open space; and two public schools within the Austin Independent School District.

Blazier Elementary opened in 2007 and is within walking distance from the homes being built in the first phase. And Goodnight is working with the district to finalize details on a second school site.

Goodnight is located less than 10 miles from downtown Austin and borders the 550-acre Onion Creek Metropolitan Park. A three-mile hike-and-bike trail will weave through the neighborhood and connect to the park. Key transportation projects are under way in the area as well, including the expansion of Slaughter Lane to Vertex Boulevard.

Myra Goepp, vice president for Benchmark, called Goodnight “an important investment in the future of our city.”

With a design layout similar to Mueller, and features that will include wide, tree-lined streets and homes with front porches and a mix of architectural styles, Goodnight aims to foster a sense of community like that found in many of Austin’s classic neighborhoods, Benchmark officials said.

Eldon Rude, a longtime Austin-area housing industry analyst, said his firm’s research shows buyers “are willing to make compromises with regard to lot size and house size in order to find a new home that is closer to downtown Austin.”

“The ability of the builders in Goodnight to offer new homes priced below $300,000, combined with its location 10 miles from downtown, will very likely result in strong demand for homes in the subdivision,” said Rude, principal of 360 Real Estate Analytics, an Austin-based based consulting firm. The fact that sales are going well at the new Easton Park subdivision nearby “is a good indicator that Goodnight will have a strong start as well,” he added.

Goodnight has taken longer than anticipated to get off the ground. Originally, it was due to start in the fall of 2005, with the start date later bumped to 2007. A complicated city approvals process and a recession contributed to delays through the years, officials said.

“It’s taken a while to get where we are today, with the downturn in the market and the recession, so we waited until there was the right opportunity to bring this community to life,” Dean Goodnight said. “Over the last few years we’ve put a lot of hard work and dedication into what we want Goodnight to be. It’s going to be much more than a neighborhood of homes, and will offer real value to the people who live here as well as the surrounding community.”

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