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International homebuyers seeking an abode in the U.S. still have their sights set on Texas, according to a new report.

The Texas International Homebuyers Report, released this month by Texas Realtors, shows that Texas remains the third hottest U.S. destination for international homebuyers.

The Lone Star State comes in behind Florida and California, just like in years past.

From April 2021-March 2022, 7,888 Texas homes were purchased by buyers from outside the U.S., accounting for 8 percent of the country's international home purchases. No. 1 Florida, meanwhile, accounted for 24 percent of purchases, with No. 2 California at 11 percent.

In total, 98,600 U.S. homes were sold to international buyers during the time period, to the tune of $59 billion. This year's report does not include total sales dollars for the Texas purchases.

“Texas remains one of the most desirable destinations for people looking to purchase a home in the United States,” said Russell Berry, chairman of Texas Realtors, in a release.

“The region of origin for homebuyers choosing Texas had a noticeable swing this reporting period. Historically, the largest number of homebuyers purchasing in Texas from outside of the United States are from the Latin America and Caribbean region. While that is still true, European homebuyers nearly closed the gap this past year.”

Thirty-one percent of Texas' international buyers were from Latin America/Caribbean, with 27 percent from Europe, 21 percent from Asia/Oceana, and 11 percent from Africa.

Texas also holds onto its status as a hot market for international commercial real estate transactions. According to the 2022 Commercial Real Estate International Business Trends from the National Association of Realtors, Texas accounted for 14 percent of international commercial buyers in 2021, second only to Florida's 22 percent.

Courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's

Posh Tarrytown estate hits the Austin market at $18.75 million

Legacy of Tarrytown

A newly remodeled, private estate in the coveted Tarrytown neighborhood has hit the market at $18.75 million.

Originally built in the 1960s, the estate sits on just over an acre of land and boasts a reimagined 21st-Century interior while remaining true to Austin’s classic, rare brick exterior. The remodel was completed in 2021 in collaboration with Houston architect Chip Fucik, who has over 20 years of residential project experience with a focus on “traditional design and historic precedent.”

In a release, Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty agent Aubrey Williamson says the Legacy of Tarrytown is “an entertainer’s dream, allowing for hundreds of guests to comfortably mingle and dine.”

The two-story main house in the estate features:

  • Six bedrooms
  • Six full bathrooms and two half-baths
  • Second-floor additional laundry room
  • Bespoke chef’s kitchen with double islands and La Cornue range
  • Bar space with a window for outdoor service
  • Floor-to-ceiling windows
  • Fireplace
  • Second-floor balcony overlooking the front yard

The master suite of the main house includes a private sitting room off the formal bedroom area, while the en-suite bathroom features a stand-alone tub and steam shower, marble tile, and two walk-in closets. Three oversized bedrooms have their own en-suite and walk-in closets.

Additional features of the estate include a three-car garage; oversized pool with heating and cooling capabilities; a private pool house with a full gym and bath; and a two-bedroom guest house with its own kitchen, laundry room, dining area, living room, and back patio. Privacy is a significant consideration throughout the estate, so the location of the guest house in relation to the main house ensures no unwanted interference between either party.

Established live oak trees, extensive outdoor living spaces, curated landscaping, and lighting also occupy the property. A “well-kept secret” in the estate is a private creek bed, meant to be the owner’s “personal nature preserve.” The Tarrytown neighborhood is located minutes away from downtown Austin and within walking distance to several indoor and outdoor activities such as Lake Austin, Westwood Country Club, Mayfield Park, and Laguna Gloria.

Courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's

The oversized pool features both heating and cooling capabilities.

Austin, Texas - Your City Government/Facebook

New Red River development will double affordable housing units in downtown Austin

Affordable Living

As Austin continues to grow and real estate continues to get pricier, the city council is stepping in. On September 29, Austin City Council approved “full negotiations” to transform a piece of city-owned property on downtown's Red River Street, the former site of HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital. The project will make 232 units available for affordable housing, according to a news release.

The project is being negotiated between affordable and mixed-income business Capital A Housing, affordable housing nonprofit the NHP Foundation, and real estate developers Aspen Heights. The project at 1215 Red River St. and 606 E. 12th St. comprises multiple towers, and targets mixed-income residents, a tactic that aims to diversify the complex rather than creating a socio-economic bubble.

The approval allows negotiations for the Master Development Agreement (MDA), which will ultimately lead to a final approval back in the council. The lease under negotiation lasts 99 years, and should be finalized by spring of 2023 for a summer of 2027 delivery target.

Located near the newly revamped Waterloo Park and a Project Connect light rail line to come, this property has potential to be one of the most connected in the city. The neighborhood is easily walkable to most places downtown, and even some parts of East Austin. It is just up the street from some of the city’s busiest nightlife, a third of a mile from Mohawk, the northernmost of the densely situated Red River music venues.

“We are thrilled to join this project to help deliver an unprecedented level of affordable housing,” said CEO of Capital A Housing Fayez Kazi in the release. “[It] will double the number of income-restricted units in downtown Austin.” The city currently manages 233.

The residential towers contain a total of 921 units, with more than a quarter reserved for low-income Austin families. Of those 232 units, half have more than one bedroom — 90 with two bedrooms, and 23 with three bedrooms. These are all within the 27-floor south tower.

All of the previous hospital site will be redeveloped, and the project will take up almost the whole block. This includes amenities such as a 30,000-square-foot plaza, a food hall, a business incubator, and onsite childcare deemed “affordable.” In keeping with the neighborhood’s musical traditions, an onsite music venue will offer rent below the market rate.

Breaking with some of the uglier history in the area, this development attempts to balance out some of the errors of the '60s, when the city displaced 475 households for the Brackenridge Hospital, the Frank Erwin Center, parking, and the same park new residents will be able to enjoy outside their door. The release points out that while 218 families were displaced, this project gives back the same number of affordable housing units, plus an additional 14.

“It’s important to remember this history of this area,” said Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison. “The urgent need to reconcile those bad decisions is what drove me to push my colleagues to give our city staff more time to kick the tires on this proposal… .”

Mayor Steve Adler commented on the plans, noting the substantial increase of affordable housing. "We need more,” he said, “but this is an important step.”

More information about the project is available at austintexas.gov.

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H-E-B unveils merch for super fans, plus more hot Austin headlines

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. H-E-B unveils merchandise for brand super fans, available exclusively at one store. Kerrville was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise in celebration of its 117th anniversary.

2. Austin bar transforms into a magical winter wonderland this holiday season. Don your favorite elf socks and meet the lovely citizens of “Tinseltown.”

3. Draft 'Vision Plan' for Zilker Park unveils land bridge and more possibilities. Austinites are invited to comment on a vision plan that will inform the future of Zilker Park.

4. Austin ranks among world’s 100 best cities in prestigious new report. Austin is the No. 43 best city in the world, according to a new study. (And yes, we beat Dallas.)

5. Austin airport launches new SkySquad travel assistants in time for the holiday rush. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is keeping lines moving during a period of heavy travel with a new team of airport assistants.

Steven Spielberg opens up personal history in The Fabelmans

Movie Review

For over 40 years, director Steven Spielberg has been delivering some of the most popular blockbuster movies of all time as well as a bevy of Oscar-quality dramas, a combination that’s unique to him. For his latest, The Fabelmans, he’s decided to go more personal than ever, telling a thinly-veiled version of his own childhood.

Sammy (played mostly by Gabriel LaBelle) is one of four children – and the only son – of Mitzi (Michelle Williams), a concert pianist, and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer. From an early age, Sammy is enthralled by the art of filmmaking, first remaking a train crash sequence from The Greatest Show on Earth, and gradually moving on to more adventurous stories.

Burt’s advancing career, which moves the family from New Jersey to Arizona to California, causes stress for various members of the family, most notably Sammy and Mitzi. Sammy must deal with anti-Semitic bullies, while Mitzi falls deeper into a mental health crisis. Sammy’s movies continually offer a respite for the family, though, giving him a creative outlet and the rest of them a chance to forget their troubles for a while.

Written by Spielberg – his first writing effort since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence – and Tony Kushner, the film is heavy on emotions but presented in a way that those feelings don’t always translate. Spielberg is no stranger to depicting fraught family situations in his long career, but in showing ones from his own family, it feels like he pulled back, not wanting the scenes to be overwrought or schmaltzy.

The result is a story that isn’t as universal as some of his other films. As the film is told from Sammy’s perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in his pursuits and various discoveries as he gets older. The mindsets of the rest of the family are less clear, even though his parents and sisters are ever-present. Mitzi’s state of mind is a concern from the start, but it’s not always treated as such by other important characters.

Just as Sammy’s movies are an escape for his family, so too are they some of the best parts of the film. Sammy figuring out the process and secrets of filmmaking is informative and often thrilling, especially if you’re a cinephile. Spielberg has been considered a master for so long that watching him revisit the days when he was learning as he went is catnip for movie lovers.

In addition to being a dead ringer for a teenage Spielberg, LaBelle is a fantastic actor. It’s no easy feat to carry a movie on your shoulders, and LaBelle makes the assignment look easy. Williams’ performance will likely be more polarizing; she employs a very mannered speech pattern that works in some situations, but not all. The film also includes memorable short appearances by Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch.

Spielberg has provided the moviegoing public with such pleasure over the years that he deserves to have a movie that’s mostly for him. The initial viewing of The Fabelmans left this critic wanting, but perhaps it will gain more traction on a second screening.

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The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Merie Weismuller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans

Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta acquires award-winning California resort

tilman goes laguna

Fans of Tilman Fertitta's nationwide hospitality brands are in for a treat. The Billion Dollar Buyer has just secured an award-winning, 30-acre resort in sunny Southern California.

Fertitta has purchased the acclaimed Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel, a premier beachfront property in the sunny SoCal getaway destination. Notably, the Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel is one of only six hotels in the U.S. to score the Forbes Triple Five-Star hotel status. The Montage has also been included among Travel + Leisure’s Top Hotels in the World.

Image courtesy of Montage Laguna Beach

Fertitta's newest purchase overlooks the ocean in Laguna Beach.

“I am truly thrilled to acquire this world-renowned property and add one of America’s most iconic trophy resorts to our luxury hotel portfolio,” Fertitta noted in a statement. “I have been traveling to Laguna Beach for over 30 years. It is one of my favorite places to visit and one of the most beautiful areas in the world. The Montage is a stunning oceanfront property and one of the premier hotel brands in the world.”

Press materials didn't list the property purchase price, but Law360 reports that the deal is in excess of $660 million.

The Craftsman-style resort sits on a coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Impressive amenities are highlighted by the 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage, which offers eucalyptus steam rooms, dry redwood saunas, ocean air whirlpools, fireplace lounges, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a movement studio, and a lap pool.

More outdoor fun includes two pools and direct beach access, a museum-quality fine art collection, and more than 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, per press materials.

Every resident space — the 260 guestrooms, including 60 suites, beach bungalow-style rooms, and multi-bedroom villas — boast stunning views of the Pacific.

Dining destinations offer chef-driven interpretations of coastal California flavors inspired by region. The property is designated and included in the distinctive Legend Collection of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

“We are thrilled that Tilman is the new owner of this one-of-a-kind property and welcome him into the Montage family,” said Alan Fuerstman, founder, CEO, and chairman of Montage International. Mary Rogers, the Montage's GM added, “The staff is thrilled to be working with Tilman. Everyone here at the property is tremendously excited about his purchase and look forward to continuing to provide a world-class experience to all of our guests."

Aside from his palatial Post Oak Hotel in Houston, Fertitta also owns 14 other hotel properties around the country, including the award-winning San Luis Resort in Galveston, plus five popular Golden Nugget casino and hotel locations.

Another feather in Fertitta’s luxury portfolio cap is the iconic Huntting Inn, one of the most charming and historic locales in East Hampton, New York.

No stranger to California, Fertitta's presence there includes Catch Seafood and Catch Steak, Mastro’s Ocean Club and Mastro’s Steakhouse, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, The Palm, and more — all part of his 60 brands and more than 600 concepts nationwide.