Development in Central Texas is Resuming

We are starting to see some activity in the form of Land Development in the Austin area and in Central Texas. Some of our Clients that have not been active, or have not been able to obtain financing, have called us to discuss new development projects. We don’t know if this is just a busy period that will end soon, or if we are seeing the beginning of a new, long term growth cycle. All signs point to the need for more housing and infrastructure to accommodate the growing population.

Fire Protection is an Important Part of a Commercial Development

We are in the process of completing an office-warehouse development. The location of the office warehouse works well for the Owner, but the water system that serves the area is substandard. This caused some concern when we considered how Fire Protection would be provided.

Fortunately, we had recently completed a fire protection system for a commercial development just next door. We had the solution for Fire Protection at this site. We could either build a similar system to the one next door, or we could make a deal with the neighbors to share the existing system we had designed.

Initially the water utility reviewer wanted a separate system for this site. However, we met with the local Fire Department and got their approval to share the system next door. With the letter from the Fire Department in hand, we obtained approval for our client, without having to build a new Fire Protection system.

Montechino – A Mixed-Use Land Development on Lake Travis

We at The Moore Group are pleased to announce that we have been retained to provide engineering design, surveying, entitlements and permitting for Montechino on Lake Travis. The owner of Montechino is a long time client of The Moore Group. He has called on us once again to make land development happen. We will be platting a new Section of Single Family lots and designing and permitting a new Marina. More will be posted on the Montechino project as we proceed.

Mini Storage Projects

There are several unique qualities of  Mini Storage Projects that engineers and planners must be aware of.  One is access.  We must lay out the project using the minimum amount of pavement necessary, while still providing adequate access to the facility.   We at The Moore Group are now working on two mini-storage facilities on opposite sides of Austin, Texas.  It’s funny how projects seem to come in groups.  I recently posted “We are Office-Warehouses”….. Now I could say “We are Mini Storage facilities !!!!!”

 

Office-Warehouses are Us

We recently prepared development plans for an Office-Warehouse in North Austin.  We also provided construction services to the Owner, including Contract Preparation, Bidding, Assistance with Selection of a Contractor and Construction Administration.  That project was built and completed last year.  Now, some local landowners want to duplicate what their neighbor did.

The landowner next door has retained us to design and build an Office-Warehouse for him as well.  The plans are complete and the City of Austin is reviewing the Site Development Permit application.  We will be turning dirt on this one soon!

Our New Project on Lake Austin, “Laguna Terrera”, is Under Construction!

It is great to see a project that you have drawn on paper become a reality.  Laguna Terrera is a high-end residential project located on Lake Austin near the community of West Lake Hills.  Our survey crew is on-site now providing locations for pilings.  Soon the utilities will be constructed.

I’ll keep you updated on the progress!

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We can now Announce it: The Moore Group is obtaining the entitlements for the Austin Curling Club

We recently represented the Austin Curling Club before City Council.  Based on the reception we recieved, we are now obtaining entitlements – including site plan approval – for a unique new sporting facility.  This will be the only true Curling Arena within a thousand miles of Austin.

The Curling Club will include a restaurant and bar.  The facility also includes three regulation sheets of curling ice and dressing rooms for the competitors.  The facility will draw Curlers from across the country and abroad from Canada,  United Kingdom (especially  Scotland), the United States, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland and Japan, all of which compete in the world championships.

In addition, the facility will showcase “green” construction components, including rainwater harvesting, solar cells on the roof and the re-use of heat given off by the ice refrigeration compressor to provide heat for hot water.

We are very excited to be chosen to work on such a unique and environmentally progressive project.

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Construction Administration

The Owner of a Development Project needs someone to represent his or her interest during construction of the project.  Our firm provides Construction Administration services that benefit Owners of development projects.  We provide Construction Services on Commercial, Industrial and Residential projects of all sizes. 

We measure the construction quantities, so the Owner only pays for the amount actually built.  We prepare the Construction Contract using Unit Prices, so that the Owner pays by the Unit, thereby eliminating the possibility of overpayment.  We obtain competitive bids from several Contractors in order to get the best price.  We conduct the bidding and assist the Owner in the selection of a Contractor. 

When construction begins, we make sure the proper authorities are notified and invited to the pre-construction conference.  As construction progresses, we observe the construction  When the Contractor submits an Application for Payment, we go to the Construction Site and check to see if the work that the contractor is seeking payment for has actually been completed.  Often times at this point, we will ask the Contractor to reduce his request for payment to the amount actually completed.  In this way, we make sure the Project Owner only pays for work actually completed and in place.  We also with-hold a Retainer, usually 10% of the amount approved for payment, in order to protect the interests of the Owner. 

As the project nears completion, we prepare a Punch-List of final items that must be completed for the Contractor to collect the Retainer.  When the project is substantially complete, the regulatory authorities are invited to the Construction Site for a final walk-thru.  At this point in the process, we often must interact with the inspectors and regulators to assure the Owner obtains his Certificate of Occupancy.  (For Public Improvements, Project Acceptance is the goal, because then the improvements are accepted for maintenance by the Public, ending Owner responsibility for the Improvements.)  

We have successfully completed many Construction Projects.  Some types of projects we have completed include:

Residential Subdivisions

Mixed-Use Subdivisions

Commercial Site Developments and Strip Centers

Office Developments

Schools

Institutional Projects including Hospitals and Government Buildings

Warehouse Developments

Apartment Projects

Hotels and Motels

Restaurants

Major Utility Projects

Water Treatment Plants

Water Wells and Pump Stations

Wastewater Plants

Floodplain Improvements & Flood Control

Drainage Projects

Marinas

Floating Docks

Road Projects

Approach Mains

Water Quality Ponds and BMP Controls

Erosion Control Installation

Single Family Homes

Septic Systems

Park Improvements 

The above projects are only a representative example of the types of projects we have completed.  Call us at 512-442-0377 before your next project to make sure your next project is a success.

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Using a Development Agreement to Develop Land in Texas

A Landowner can eliminate a lot of uncertainty and risk when developing land in Texas by entering into a Development Agreement with local Municipalities.  The Development Agreement also helps the local Municipality set forth rules for development that specifically apply to the subject property. 

We at The Moore Group have assisted both Landowners and Municipalities in the preparation of Development Agreements.  A Development Agreement should be a “win-win” agreement that helps both parties achieve their goals.  It can also streamline procedures for obtaining the additional entitlements that follow the Development Agreement.

One aspect of Land Development that can benefit from a Development Agreement is offsite improvements.  Municipalities typically require larger developments to make improvements to the infrastructure adjacent to the proposed development.  The infrastructure improvements are needed because of the additional burden a large development puts on local streets and utilities.  With a Development Agreement, the Landowner can know in advance how much will be required for offsite improvements, and the Municipality can be sure that the necessary improvements will be made to support the development.

In summary, a Development Agreement can help both the Landowner and the local Municipality plan Development in a way that benefits both parties.  We at The Moore Group have experience in the preparation of Development Agreements.  We can help prepare a successful Development Agreement

The Benefits of Water Districts (including M.U.D.’s & W.C.I.D.’s)

The State of Texas allows Land Developers to form Water Districts in order to help finance medium to large sized projects. The Water District repays the Developer for the cost of utilities, drainage systems, ponds and other improvements. The Water District is a taxing authority that re-pays the Developer through the issuance of bonds, similar to municipal bonds. 

There is more than one type of Water District. Types that are commonly used in Land Development include the Municipal Utility District (M.U.D.) and the Water Control & Improvement District (W.C.I.D.). Both types allow the Developer to be reimbursed for many construction costs and soft costs. 

When the District is formed, there is a resident on the property to be developed who will vote in a special election for the Creation of the District and for the eventual Reimbursement of the Developer. The voting resident is not just anybody, but is a person who is living on the land for the purpose taking part in the election and voting to create the District. Since the voting resident is hand selected, the outcome of the election is pre-determined and the Developer is guaranteed to be reimbursed once there are enough taxpayers in the District to support the Bonds. 

A good rule of thumb for the size of development that makes creation of a Water District viable is that it should have the equivalent of at least 200 average price homes that are paying taxes to the Water District. We have helped our Clients with the Creation of Districts of over 2,000 homes, mixed with commercial property. But a high end development may provide enough of a tax base to support a District with fewer than 200 tax payers. We have assisted Clients with small Districts as well.  We have a team of experts that have created Districts in the past.  Call us at 512-442-0377 for more information on Water Districts as they apply to Land Development.