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'Affordable' new development on horizon for Austin's coveted 78704

'Affordable' new development on horizon for Austin's coveted 78704

MESA condo development
MESA offers condos priced between $200,000 to $400,000. Courtesy rendering

A project with relatively affordable condos — yes, we said affordable — is taking shape in South Austin’s coveted 78704 ZIP code.

The builder, Austin-based IMPACT Developers, broke ground this week on MESA, a three-story, 45-unit condo project at 4004 Bannister Ln. near West Ben White Boulevard. The site is within two miles of the popular South Lamar, South Congress, St. Elmo, and Westgate business districts.

MESA’s studio, one-, and two-bedroom condos range in size from 536 square feet to 1,510 square feet. Among the interior features are three finish-and-fixture packages, as well as handmade tiling and walk-in showers in the master bathrooms.

Exterior amenities include a pool area, paths lined with native grasses, firepit lounges, yard sculptures by a Marfa artist, an off-leash dog park, and a playscape. Construction is set for completion in early 2020. 

The folks behind MESA say the condos — being marketed for $200,000 to $400,000 — are targeted at what they call the “missing middle” in Austin’s housing market. In February, the median price of a single-family home within Austin’s city limits stood at $360,000, according to the Austin Board of Realtors. For the Austin metro area as a whole, the median price was $295,000.

Austin architect Mark Odom, whose firm is designing MESA, says multifamily developments like MESA “can advance the Austin housing market in smart ways.” Odom’s notable projects include the new headquarters of dating and networking app Bumble and a community of tree-like houses in Zilker.

Underscoring the feverish demand for reasonably priced housing in Austin, many of the condos at MESA are already under contract, the project’s website shows.

“While demand [for housing] remains strong due to population growth, this is no longer a market where homes sell significantly above listing price. Housing affordability challenges might be limiting what consumers are able to pay for a home,” Kevin Scanlan, president of Austin Board of Realtors, says in a March release.

Would-be buyers, most notably those in the middle-income and lower-income brackets, increasingly find they’re being priced out of the housing market in and near Austin’s urban core. As such, cities like Columbus, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Kansas City; New Orleans; Omaha, Nebraska; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and Salt Lake City are emerging as lower-cost alternatives.

In the same release, longtime Austin economist Angelos Angelou notes that as the region’s tech sector continues to expand — with companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google bulking up their local headcounts — an aggressive approach must be taken to this growth to “ensure Austin doesn’t become unaffordable for our workforce.”