- By Gary Dinges American-Statesman Staff
An Austin developer has changed course on plans to revamp a San Marcos shopping center.
Since taking control of Springtown Center in 2014, Endeavor Real Estate has landed a number of high-profile tenants to fill what was, at the time, a sickly strip mall that was only 10 percent occupied. Additions have included heavy hitters such as Chuy’s, Gold’s Gym and The Spot, an entertainment venue.
While Endeavor had initially been in talks with a number of interested retailers to fill the remaining space in the shopping center, the developer has decided to go another route. Instead, it is demolishing a chunk of the center between Chuy’s and the former Target store that’s now home to Gold’s Gym and The Spot to make way for a multi-story apartment building that will have 233 units with 32,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.
The project will be called The Lyndon after former President Lyndon B. Johnson who attended nearby Texas State University back when it was known as Southwest Texas State Teachers College. It’s expected to be completed in mid 2019.
“We’re excited about this opportunity and believe it will create great synergy with the existing shopping center, its tenants and customers,” said Endeavor principal Nelson Crowe, who has been working closely on the project with Buck Cody, another Endeavor principal.
“We believed all along that eventually the highest and best use for this asset was some sort of dense, vertical mixed-use project. We even set up our initial retail leases so as to allow for a portion of the project to be developed with some density.”
The 233 apartments will have a total of 515 beds, Crowe said, targeting a mix of Texas State students and non-students. Texas State currently has about 40,000 students, while the population of San Marcos as a whole was 61,980 in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“As we continued to watch Texas State expand and obtained a better understanding of the surrounding student housing market, our belief that the site was suited for density was both solidified and expedited,” Crowe said. “Our first leases – Gold’s, The Spot and Chuy’s – also helped push us in this direction. With these tenants, our other current restaurants, retailers and service providers at Springtown, and our proximity to H-E-B and Texas State, we believed that we had an amenity package for a best-in-class student housing project that was unrivaled anywhere else in the market.”
The remaining portion of Springtown Center is 100 percent leased, according to Cody and Crowe, with tenants reporting they’re “very pleased” with the project and are meeting or beating projections.
“The reaction has been positive,” Crowe said. “Less than three years ago, there was approximately 200,000 square feet of vacancy and a very broken project. Today, the students at Texas State and the residents of San Marcos have amenities that they previously didn’t, and the city sees an interesting and exciting project at the main exit into downtown.”
In addition to Springtown Center and The Lyndon, Endeavor has a number of other Central Texas projects in various stages of development. It has recently opened a pair of high-profile retail centers – Domain Northside in North Austin and The Parke in Cedar Park – and is working to redevelop Plaza Saltillo in East Austin and the American-Statesman site just south of downtown Austin.