The rental market in tech hubs, including the five-county Austin metro, is climbing back up to pre-pandemic levels.
The U.S. median April rent was $1,483, up 2.7% year-over-year and the most marked increase since March 2020, according to a monthly report from Realtor.com. Rents in tech hubs, where prices fell dramatically due to remote work, are also on the rebound. Although they were still down 5.4% year-over-year in April, they are still up from the 6.6% decline recorded in February.
Austin is among the metros leading this charge. The median April rent in U.S. tech hubs was up $2,086, up 1.1% from March. In Austin, rent was up 1.7% year-over-year, second only to Denver. Other hubs, including San Jose and San Francisco, in California, are still posting double-digit declines.
"In tech centers, rent declines are getting smaller, signaling they are on the path to turnaround," Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale said in a statement. "If the trend continues, renters could expect to be paying pre-pandemic rates by as early as this fall."
The work-from-home migration led many renters and prospective homebuyers to prioritize more space. The desire has been reflecting in home listing prices here in Austin as well as in rents for larger units across the country, according to the Realtor.com report. The median April rent for two-bedroom units across the U.S. was $1,662, up 5.2% year-over-year and surpassing their pre-COVID growth rates. The median April rent for studios, on the other hand, was down 1.9% over the same period.
This represents a notable change from earlier in the pandemic when the local housing market was scorching hot but area rents remained depressed.
Bruce McClenny, president of ApartmentData.com, attributed Austin's recent rental market recovery to a combination of factors: job growth powered by companies such as Tesla, Oracle and Samsung; relocations; and an increasingly pricey housing market. "Austin's home market is probably hotter than ever," he recently told Austonia. "That has to play into the rental market right now.
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The original Z’Tejas location on West 6th Street is closing its doors after more than 30 years on the lot to make way for new development.
Z'Tejas owner Randy Cohen told Austonia the restaurant will be open at least through the end of 2022, possibly through March 2023.
Cohen said the owners—Larry McGuire of McGuire Moorman Lambert Hospitality—of the land have something new planned, though he’s not exactly sure what. Additionally, Cohen said maintenance costs for the old building were becoming prohibitively expensive.
“I think the people who own the dirt will tear it all down and build condos or some other development,” Cohen said. “I mean, it's a 60-year-old building, Z'Tejas has been here for 33 years and before that, it was something else. So it's just progress, that's all."
The restaurant isn’t going away though—Cohen said Z’Tejas is already looking for a new spot in the downtown area to move into. Z’Tejas also has a location in Avery Ranch, another in the works for Kyle and two in Arizona.
“We have all our ducks in a row right now and the management team is all rowing in the right direction,” Cohen said. “We're just excited, we're excited to build this iconic brand back.”
Once he finds a new place, Cohen plans to bring along its mural, “The Last Zupper,” which features Willie Nelson, Matthew McConaughey and Barbara Jordan. Cohen also plans for the adjoining ghost kitchen, Woo Woo Burgers, to follow to the new downtown location.
“We're still booking events through the end of December,” Cohen said. “Come ‘Z' me at Z’Tejas, we'd love to see you before we’re gone.”
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Two towers could be coming just south of the Austin American-Statesman’s former headquarters in the South Central Waterfront district.
According to city filings, the proposed planned unit development agreement is set for 200 East Riverside Drive, an area Project Connect’s Blue Line is slated to pass by someday.
Carrying this out involves removing the existing building, which is a state office complex and surface parking.
The new towers in place would reach just over 400 feet at their maximum and include office space and space for retail on the ground level. The mix of office and retail is a trend that’s been cropping up in downtown sites like the Perennial and the Meta tower.
The proposal on a plot of about four acres aims to incorporate green infrastructure and create a lively environment for pedestrians. It’d also be adjacent to the 118-acres of the South Central Waterfront Initiative, which is aimed at enhancing connections to and along the waterfront over the next couple of decades.
The filing lists architects STG Design, a group involved with work on the sailboat-like Google tower.
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