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Courtesy of Loren Hotel

A hotel boom is underway in the Austin area. As of the second quarter of 2022, 80 projects featuring 10,306 guest rooms were in the planning or development stages in the Austin area, according to a new report published by hospitality data provider Lodging Econometrics.

Austin ranks 10th in the U.S. for hotel construction.

Dallas leads all U.S. regions, with 173 hotel projects with 20,707 guest rooms in the pipeline. Big D is followed by Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York City, and Nashville, the report says.

“While some might expect Miami or New York City to lead the U.S. in terms of the number of hotel projects underway, that distinction actually belongs to Dallas … ,” says The Points Guy travel blog, which points out that Dallas has led all U.S. locations in hotel development for four consecutive quarters.

Elsewhere in Texas:

  • Houston ties for seventh place, with 94 projects featuring 10,247 guest rooms
  • Fort Worth-Arlington ranks 15th, with 65 projects with 8,005 guest rooms
  • San Antonio ranks 21st, with 46 projects featuring 5,116 guest rooms

Brian Hughes, managing director of JLL Hotels & Hospitality, tells the travel blog that “a heavy trend of corporate and population migration to Texas” has lifted hotel performance in the state as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes.

Another plus, it says, is Texas’ business-friendly tax structure. This draws companies to the state, which then feeds demand for hotel rooms to accommodate business travelers.

“Encouraged by 2022’s upward trend in hotel performance, owners, management groups, developers, and investors are moving forward with development plans as evidenced by increasing counts at every stage of construction,” Lodging Econometrics says.

Austin housing market to see most dramatic shift in 2023, forecast shows

The times are changing

A new forecast envisions a massive shift in Austin’s homebuying market next year.

By July 2023, the Austin metro area is projected to witness the most dramatic swing from a sellers’ market to a buyers’ market among the country’s 100 largest metro areas, according to the Knock real estate platform.

In a buyers’ market, sellers typically accept a lower price than they listed their houses for. The opposite is true in a sellers’ market, where homes often sell for more than the list price. The Austin area is projected to have the lowest sale-to-list-price ratio in July 2023.

Knock notes that the median sale price of a home in the Austin area climbed 71 percent during the height of the pandemic, compared with 39.9 percent nationwide.

Knock predicts the median home price in the Austin area will reach $594,893 in July 2023. That would represent a 15.5 percent jump from the $515,000 figure reported by the Austin Board of Realtors for this July.

“As the market continues to become more balanced, 15 of the 100 largest housing markets are projected to favor buyers by July 2023, while 27 more are expected to move to neutral territory, where neither buyers nor sellers have the upper hand,” Knock says.

Knock’s outlook for the Austin homebuying market isn’t as dire as the one expressed by Americans in a new survey.

In the survey, conducted by the Consumer Affairs website, 33 percent of respondents singled out Austin as the U.S. market mostly likely headed for a housing crash. That was the highest percentage for any market cited in the survey.

As a whole, local real estate professionals don’t fear a housing crash here, but they do acknowledge the Austin market is cooling off. For example, homes for sale in the Austin area spent an average of 22 days on the market this July, up 10 days from July 2021.

“The Austin real estate market’s inventory and mortgage interest rates have returned to pre-pandemic levels in recent months. It’s not the intense sellers’ market it was a few months ago, and sellers should reset their expectations,” Ryan Leahy, regional president at Austin mortgage lending company HomeTown Texas, says in an Austin Board of Realtors news release.

“For the first time in a long time,” Leahy adds, “buyers have more flexibility and leverage in the transaction.”

Austin housing inventory skyrockets to highest levels since 2018

Real Estate Report

More signs of relief for the Austin housing market. The latest monthly report from Austin Board of Realtors, released Tuesday, August 16, offers indications that the market is continuing to stabilize.

There are still new records to report, but “In every aspect of our market," says Cord Shiflet, 2022 ABoR president, in a release, "Realtors are seeing positive signs that Austin’s housing market continues to normalize.”

One of the most promising signs is an explosion of inventory in the Austin-Round Rock metro area. In July 2022, the region's housing inventory reached 2.7 months — the highest level seen since November 2018, ABOR notes, and an increase from the 2.1 months reported in June 2022.

“On top of rising housing inventory, home price growth is much closer to the 4-5 [percent] annual growth that is typical for a healthy market," Shiflet says.

In July 2022, the median metro home price reached $515,000, and while that's still the highest price on record for the month of July, the year-over-year growth rate of 8 percent is considerably lower than the pace we've come to expect.

Meanwhile, the median price in the city limits clocked in at $633,000, and a median-priced Travis County home was $610,000. While both represent an approximately 11 percent price increase from July 2021, the county median has dropped slightly from June 2022.

And, good news for prospective buyers: "[Last month] homes sold slightly below list price for the first time since December 2020, proving that buyers are gaining negotiating power in the market,” according to Shiflet.

Photo by Getty Images

This Texas city is the No. 1 destination for Austin millennials on the move

Putting down roots

For the most part, Austin millennials have stayed close to home after entering adulthood, a new report indicates.

At age 26, nearly 70 percent of people who were born from 1984 to 1992 and raised in Austin remained here, according to the report. That leaves more than 30 percent who moved elsewhere.

Data compiled by researchers at Harvard University and the U.S. Census Bureau pinpoints Houston as the No. 1 target for millennials who lived in Austin at age 16 and grew up here but lived somewhere else in the U.S. at age 26. Houston attracted 3.9 percent of millennial movers born from 1984 to 1992 (a large subset of the millennial generation) who grew up in Austin.

Bayou City was followed by San Antonio (3.1 percent), Dallas (2.8 percent), Killeen (1.3 percent), and Fort Worth (1.2 percent). These were the only Texas cities to surpass the 1 percent mark for the share of millennials born from 1984 to 1992 who had moved away from Austin. In 2022, these millennials are celebrating birthdays from 30 to 38.

These are the top five out-of-state destinations for Austin-raised, on-the-move millennials:

  • Los Angeles — 0.86 percent
  • New York City — 0.79 percent
  • Denver — 0.64 percent
  • Seattle — 0.50 percent
  • Washington, D.C. — 0.43 percent

The list of Texas places that sent millennials to Austin looks very similar to the list of places that gained millennials from Austin. The top five are Houston (6.7 percent of movers born from 1984 to 1992 who came to Austin), Dallas and San Antonio (3.7 percent each), Fort Worth (2 percent), and Brownsville (1.6 percent).

Los Angeles is the only out-of-state destination that broke the 1 percent barrier for millennials who relocated to Austin (1.6 percent), followed by Chicago (0.97 percent), Washington, D.C. (0.63 percent), Detroit (0.51 percent), and Boston and New York City (0.49 percent each).

The geographic regions cited in the report are not metro areas but, instead, are commuting zones. A commuting zone represents a collection of counties that define an area’s labor market.

Researchers relied on federal tax, population, and housing data to assemble the report.

The statistics for Austin largely align with nationwide trends. The researchers say 80 percent of young-adult movers in the U.S. had relocated less than 100 miles from where they grew up and 90 percent had moved less than 500 miles.

“The majority of young adults stay close to home,” the researchers explain. “Average migration distances are shorter for Black and Hispanic young adults than for White and Asian young adults. Average migration distances are also shorter for those with lower levels of parental income.”

“For many individuals,” the researchers conclude, “the ‘radius of economic opportunity’ is quite narrow.”

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This national survey says Texas is a great state for business

A Great State

As Austin and the rest of Texas continue to welcome out-of-state businesses, there’s some affirming news from a new poll. More than half of non-Texans believe the Lone Star State is a good place to launch a business.

The survey, conducted this summer by Austin-based Crosswinds Media & Public Relations and Asbury Park, New Jersey-based Rasmussen Reports, a conservative-leaning polling company, found 53 percent of non-Texans had a positive perception of Texas as a place to do business. Only 23 percent of adults outside Texas had a “bad” or “very bad” view of the state’s business environment, while 24 percent said they were unsure.

The survey questioned 845 American adults who don’t live in Texas.

Thomas Graham, president and CEO of Crosswinds, says the survey results demonstrate that “the brand of the Lone Star State remains strong.”

In recent years, a number of out-of-state companies have been lured by that brand as well as the business climate in Austin. High-profile Austin examples include Tesla, whose Austin factory is already planning expansion; Samsung, who is building a $17 billion factory in Taylor; and Apple, opening a massive new campus in Northwest Austin.

The poll from Crosswinds and Rasmussen was completed around the same time that CNBC released its ranking of the best states for doing business. Texas landed in fifth place, down one notch from its perch in CNBC’s 2021 study. A day later, CNBC put out a list of the worst states to live, with Texas appearing at No. 2 behind Arizona.

CNBC notes that skilled workers are flooding Texas, even though the quality of life here raises questions. The new arrivals “are finding limited childcare options, a stressed health care system with the highest rate of uninsured, new curbs on voting rights, and few protections against discrimination,” the cable TV network declares.

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A version of this story originally appeared on our sister site InnovationMap.com.

Rendering courtesy of St. David's HealthCare

Austin hospital earns healthy ranking from prestigious U.S. News & World Report

med center might

U.S. News & World Report has released its 2022-23 Best Hospitals list, naming Austin's St. David’s Medical Center as the No. 8 best hospital in Texas and No. 37 nationally.

Not the first accolade for the local facility, St. David's Medical Center's national ranking came courtesy of the hospital's post-procedure work and physical therapy in its rehabilitation department, which landed the facility among the top 51 out of 4515 hospitals nationwide.

Rankings for the annual U.S. News study are based on scores in patient care, patient safety, outcomes, nursing, advanced technology, and reputation.

One data point not used in the Best Hospitals rankings, but worthy of note: The hospital also earned four out of five stars in patient satisfaction, which measured how patients felt about their hospital stay and discharge overall.

At the top of the list was Houston's Medical Center, which boasts the best adult and children’s hospital in Texas and the best cancer center in America.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center earned No. 1 in the nation for cancer care. For those keeping track, MD Anderson has been considered in the top two cancer hospitals in the U.S. since the U.S. News launched the survey in 1990.

Elsewhere in Texas
Other Houston hospitals earned high rankings as well, with Houston Methodist Hospital coming in at No. 15 nationally and No. 1 in Texas for the 11th year in a row. Notably, U.S. News has ranked Houston Methodist Hospital in at least one specialty for the past 30 years. Houston's Texas Children’s Hospital ranked No. 2 overall in the Best Children’s Hospitals ranking, remaining top in Texas and the Southwest, and at No. 1 in heart treatment for the sixth year in a row.

Also boasting top honors in the state is the Menninger Clinic, which tied for tenth place on U.S. News’ list of best psychiatric hospitals, making it the all-out best in Texas.

Dallas-Fort Worth is home to the No. 2 hospital in Texas, per U.S. News. UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas also ranked especially well nationally in urology (No. 11), cardiology and heart surgery (No. 14), diabetes and endocrinology (No. 18), pulmonology and lung surgery, (No. 21), and cancer (No. 25).

Not far down the list is Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, which ranked No. 4 in Texas. One Baylor department ranked nationally: gastroenterology and GI surgery department, No. 34.

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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.