Work to start in early ’22 on second section of Gregg Ranch
Dec 30, 2021
Michelle Pitcher, Staff Writer, Austin Business Journal
This article is edited from the Austin Business Journal
In early 2020, plans for Gregg Ranch were heralded as the first large-scale development in Marble Falls in decades. Now the investment in the small city west of Austin is being felt on the ground: homes are selling fast in the master-planned community, even as officials plan for the next phase of development.
The 240-acre community, developed by Arizona-based Harvard Investments Inc., is expected to include about 1,000 homes at full build-out. According to the most recent plans, 700 of these homes will be single-family, while 250 will be multifamily. Developers are alsoplanning for an undisclosed commercial element.
Lots for phase one of the community were completed in 2020, anda grand opening was held in April. Officials say about half thehomes in the first phase have been purchased. Pulte Homes, adivision of Atlanta-based PulteGroup Inc. (NYSE: PHM), is currently the sole builder in the community.
The homes range in size from 1,600 square feet to more than 3,600square feet. Prices start in the mid-$300,000 range. According to PulteGroup, buyers’ reasons for moving to the community have been varied. Some have moved to Marble Falls —which is about an hour away from the Austin city center — once being given the freedom to work from anywhere. Others are drawn to the city for jobs or family, while some have been long time residents looking for a new build. Phase one included about 150 homes, as well as outdoor amenities, including yard games like bocce ball and horseshoes.
According to Nathan Neese, project manager for Gregg Ranch, developers just submitted construction plans for another 112 single-family lots for phase two. Developers expect construction onthe community’s second phase, which will also include a community center and six miles of trails, to begin in early 2022. Neese said it’s hard to pin down the overall community’scompletion date, but he hopes to reach full build-out within seven years.
In addition to Harvard Investments and Pulte, other companies involved with Gregg Ranch include Marble Falls-based civil engineering firm K.C. Engineering Inc., Austin-based Ross Construction Inc. as general contractor and Austin-based C3 Development LLC as construction manager.
The community is a significant addition to the city of Marble Falls, which was home to just over 7,000 people as of the most recent U.S. Census in 2020. While the city hasn’t exploded in population like some of its Central Texas neighbors, Marble Falls has received notable attention from developers in recent months.
In October, Marble Falls City Council approved a public-private partnership with Phoenix Hospitality Group LLC. The partnership will facilitate the development of a Hilton-brand hotel and conference center, a $35 million project that city officials hope will encourage more tourism.
Christian Fletcher, executive director of the Marble Falls Economic Development Corporation, said the city experienced its largest single employment generator ever when Baylor Scott & White Health opened a hospital in Marble Falls in 2015. The hospital was set to bring in more than 500 new employees, but no developers responded to the city’s call for increased housing. “They were just as busy as they could be along the I-35 corridor, and to take on the risk of coming to Marble Falls was something that they weren’t comfortable with,” Fletcher said.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that some market-rate apartments began to spring up. Fletcher said those developments are already full and many have wait lists.
“The [growth] that we saw coming and tried to get out ahead of, nobody really responded [to],” Fletcher said. “When they finallydid, they saw demand is even greater now than it was at that time.”
He said Williamson County recently surpassed Travis County as the largest feeder into Marble Falls, likely as people try to outrun the sprawl. The developers of Gregg Ranch are acutely aware of the opportunity present in Marble Falls. “This is kind of one of the first major projects out there, but it won’t be the last,” Neese said.