Williamson to get conservation subdivision

Web Posted Posted: 02/23/07 4:16 PM

By M.B. Taboada
Friday, February 23, 2007

GEORGETOWN — Booming Williamson County is getting its first major environmentally sensitive mixed-use development, near the proposed Austin-to-Leander commuter rail line.

The 1,900-acre project, Water Oak at San Gabriel, will include 4,000 high-end homes with about 650 acres designated for land conservation. That would make it one of the largest conservation subdivisions in Texas.

About 100 acres would be devoted to commercial and retail development. An additional 1,500 multifamily units are planned.

ABG Development Ltd., a subsidiary of Galo Properties of San Antonio, completed the purchase for the Georgetown development Thursday from six private sellers.

The multimillion-dollar development will be completed in phases during the next decade. Once complete, the project may be valued as much as $1 billion, said Walt Busby, chief operating officer of Galo Properties.

"This opens up the whole western (Georgetown) area to not only family development but also opens it up to commercial and possibly corporate development," Busby said.

Meritage Homes, Morrison Homes, Ryland Homes and Taylor Woodrow are set to build the homes that will range in price from $250,000 to $1 million. Homes will be ready for occupants by late 2008.

The lots will be clustered together and surrounded by a large open space that includes hike-and-bike trails and parks.

The land's proximity to Texas 130, the 183-A toll road and the Capital Metro commuter line from Leander to downtown Austin makes the site ideal for development, Busby said. "You could live in our subdivision and work downtown and take a 40-minute ride downtown every day," he said.

As part of the development agreement with Georgetown leaders, Galo Properties will extend a sewer line about six miles to help protect the San Gabriel River basin. Over time, the city will reimburse the developer for the estimated $8 million to $11 million to build the line.

"It has the potential to be a very well-planned neighborhood community that is more than just single-family residential houses," said Tom Yantis, assistant city manager. "It has potential for people to shop, dine and work and live in the community."

Georgetown, which has 44,000 residents, has recently been getting an influx of development. Among the latest projects:

• Pinnacle Development Group of Arizona last year announced plans for a 2,000-home subdivision on Texas 29 between Georgetown and Liberty Hill.

• Austin developer Bob Wunsch is planning to build a 2,400-home development on land bought from Sun City developer Del Webb. Also, Sun City plans to add 2,500 homes to its current project.

• Construction is under way on a $450 million Citicorp Inc. data center, which will employ 50 people. Georgetown's City Council approved a package of incentives to lure the development to the Inner Loop.

• A 120,000-square-foot mixed-use project is going up just north of Georgetown's historic district. The first phase in the Sun Star Plaza development is a four-story building for medical professionals and will include condominiums near the town's square.

"We are growing by leaps and bounds," Yantis said. "We've had some successes in landing some of the projects that will help define who we are as we grow."