AUSTIN, Tex. — Amit Sudharshan, 28, dons shorts and flip flops to walk the two blocks from his downtown apartment here to his job as a quantitative researcher at RGM Advisors.
The high-frequency trading company based here shares a floor of the Chase Bank Tower with the more conservatively dressed workers at the offices of United States Senator John Cornyn.
Mr. Sudharshan and his wife, Megan Guse Sudharshan, are among the wave of young residents who have embraced a fledgling urban lifestyle in Texas’s capital, where Cirrus Logic recently constructed a new downtown headquarters and Facebook, Google and other high-tech employers have set up shop alongside the lobbyists, lawyers and professional service providers who have traditionally filled office space in the central business district.
The combination of a diversifying business center and Austin’s renowned entertainment scene has recently drawn an influx of young and highly educated workers downtown.
To meet their housing needs, about 500 apartments are under construction and several developers are poised to begin construction on other residential projects. But apartment buildings are not the full extent of this downtown resurgence. Several hotels are under construction, and there are plans for at least two substantial office towers and multiple mixed-use projects.
“What’s happened in downtown over the past seven years is that the office space was here, the housing came, and retail is arriving last to the scene,” said Mike Kennedy, president and chief executive of a local real estate firm, Commercial Texas.
Downtown residences are relatively new to Austin. Rental apartment construction started in the late 1990s, with residential condominium development following in the early 2000s. The recession curbed condo sales and is now ushering in this latest round of rental development.
The city’s central business district has about 1,500 residential condominium units and 1,500 rental apartments, according to Capitol Market Research, a real estate consulting firm here. Downtown living has proved remarkably popular, with a rental occupancy rate of almost 97 percent, nearly equal to the citywide rate of 97.8 percent, according to Capitol Market Research.
“Living downtown is great,” said Mr. Sudharshan. “We’ve gone months without driving anywhere except to go to the airport.”
Landlords are raking in profits: The citywide average monthly apartment rental rate of $1.10 a square foot is the highest in the state, and downtown apartment rents are more than twice the city average, according to Charles H. Heimsath, president of Capitol Market Research.
“Downtown has developed such a… Read more…