Georgetown Ranks Seventh on Fastest-Growing City List

The Census reported this week that Georgetown is among the fastest-growing cities in the country. According to a news release from the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday, Georgetown ranks number seven on a list of the fastest-growing medium-sized cities in the U.S.

Radiostar stage Ximenez 1-600“San Marcos, Cedar Park and Georgetown—each near Austin—ranked among the 10 fastest-growing cities with populations of 50,000 or more during the year ending July 1, 2013,” according to the Census news release.

Georgetown’s growth rate was 4.5 percent from July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013, resulting in a 2013 population of 54,898 residents. Georgetown’s 2010 census population was 47,400. (Photo credit: Rudy Ximenez)

Housing starts have continued at a steady pace in Georgetown with 690 new home permits issued in 2013.

Growth in Georgetown shows no signs of slowing down. Housing communities in all areas of the city continue to add new residences, including developments such as Water Oak, Sun City Texas, The Brownstone at the Summit, and La Conterra. Other neighborhoods such as Wolf Ranch—a Hillwood Communities development with more than 2,000 residences—are in the planning stages.

Why is Georgetown growing so fast?

One reason is Georgetown’s location in the Austin metropolitan area, which has been the fastest-growing metro region in the nation for the past four years. The Austin metro continues to add jobs as well as retirees at a rapid pace.

Other reasons for Georgetown’s growth include the historic downtown area and Courthouse Square, parks and trails, dining and entertainment options, good schools, safe neighborhoods, and one of the lowest property tax rates in Texas.

To find out more about moving to or living in Georgetown, go to livehere.georgetown.org.

Texas State MBAs Assist City on Projects

Four teams of students in the Master of Business Administration program at Texas State University put their business analysis skills to work this spring in Georgetown. The teams worked on four projects for the City of Georgetown as part of the capstone course for their MBA degrees.

Texas St MBA group 1b-640Rather than a typical business school scenario that may involve a large corporation in another city, these projects were focused on involvement in the local community says Matt Painter, MBA program director for the McCoy College of Business Administration at Texas State.

“All the students working with the City were enrolled in the evening MBA program at our Round Rock campus,” says Painter, who lives in Georgetown. “These students are working professionals, most in their 30s, working a full-time job during the day and then taking graduate courses in the evenings.”

The Texas State collaboration with the City started in October when Painter and Dennis Smart, a business professor in the MBA program, met with City Manager Paul Brandenburg to identify potential projects. After getting ideas from City staff, Brandenburg worked with the students who started the projects in January. (Two of the groups are pictured.)

Texas St MBA group 2b-640One group looked at the problem of identity theft and fraud among residents of Sun City and provided a number of recommendations to help prevent these crimes. A second group conducted a downtown business survey of Georgetown and surveyed eight comparable cities to develop strategies to for special events, marketing, and the use of public areas.

The third group used modeling projections to determine the effects of different options for landscaping and water use rules. A fourth group looked at the economic impact of development in the planned South Georgetown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone along Westinghouse Road, including a planned Bass Pro Shop that borders the area.

Each project was completed in the spring semester and culminated two weeks ago when the students presented their projects to fellow students, professors, and City staff. The students graduated from the MBA program on May 8.

Reports from each group to the respective City departments contain practical recommendations, analysis, and background for City staff. These reports have practical value to the City at zero cost to taxpayers.

Capital Improvement Projects Proposed for 2015

Learn about proposed transportation and utility infrastructure projects in Georgetown for the upcoming fiscal year.

Citizens are encouraged to view the proposed City of Georgetown 2015 Capital Improvement Plan summary to be presented to the Georgetown Utility Systems Advisory Board and Georgetown Transportation Advisory Board on Friday, May 9, 2014 (linked to below).

Projects in the proposed Capital Improvement Plan for 2015 include street overlay and street reconstruction projects, curb and drainage improvements, water line upgrades, wastewater system improvements, and electric system improvements.

Both the Georgetown Transportation Advisory Board and the Georgetown Utility Systems Advisory Board will make a recommendation on the 2015 Capital Improvement Plan to the City Council at their respective Friday, May 9, 2014 meetings. The CIP is scheduled for review and approval by the city council in June as an element of the overall 2014/15 city budget.

All Capital Improvement Plan documents can be viewed at the following location: http://records.georgetown.org/weblink8/0/fol/421931/Row1.aspx

Questions about or comments on the proposed capital improvement projects for 2015 can be emailed to cipcomments@georgetown.org.

City Annual Report Available

annual report 2012-2013 cover-400The City of Georgetown Annual Report for the 2013 fiscal year is now available. The report includes highlights of projects, initiatives, and financial information for the 2012 – 2013 fiscal year that started on October 1, 2012 and ended on September 30, 2013.

The 18-page annual report covers the five focus areas that define the City of Excellence strategic goal: Economic Development, Public Safety, Signature Destination, Transportation, and Utilities. A final section includes financial information about the City of Georgetown.

The report is available online at files.georgetown.org/annualreport.

A limited number of free printed copies of the annual report are available at the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. Eighth Street.

Reinvestment Zone Could Spur Development on Southern Edge

The City Council voted last week to move forward in developing a funding mechanism that could spur commercial development along Westinghouse Road. The South Georgetown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone would fund public infrastructure improvements at the southern edge of Georgetown.

tirz area mapThe 603-acre zone along Westinghouse Road is an area with planned commercial, retail, and residential development valued at as much as $700 million by 2020. A residential project is currently under construction on the south side of Westinghouse Road. Several office, retail, residential, and mixed-use projects are in the planning stages along the corridor. (Click on map to see larger version.)

A road connection from Oakmont Drive to Rabbit Hill Road and the addition of wastewater service lines are key elements for commercial development in the area. The Oakmont Drive extension would provide access to areas of planned development north of the Round Rock Premium Outlets. Paired with the extension of N. Mays Street in Round Rock, the extension of Oakmont Drive could ultimately create a north-south connector parallel to Interstate 35 from Gattis School Road in Round Rock to SE Inner Loop in Georgetown.

Other road projects in the zone could include extending Rabbit Hill Road to the north and extending Blue Springs Road to the south.

The tax reinvestment zone would direct the future increased property tax valuation in the 603-acre area to a fund used to build wastewater lines, road extensions, or other public infrastructure.

At their regular meeting last week, the City Council directed City staff to continue developing the plan for the zone. The City and Williamson County recently completed plans for a similar tax reinvestment zone that will fund public improvements for the Summit at Rivery Park hotel and conference center project.

The City is currently conducting a feasibility review for the South Georgetown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. A final plan should be presented to the City Council at their regular meetings in April and May.

Tasus Expands Manufacturing Operations

Tasus sign1b-500Tasus Texas, a plastic parts manufacturer in south Georgetown, is expanding their operations at their plant on 211 Tasus Way. Tasus plans to invest $5.3 million in new production equipment over the next three years.

With the expansion, Tasus expects to increase employment from 155 to 200 employees over the next three years.

Walter Barkalow, director of manufacturing for Tasus in Georgetown, says they expect to add 10 plastic injection-molding machines.

“We have picked up a couple of new strategic customers for Tasus Texas and have received a couple of very large programs from some existing customers,” says Barkalow.

Tasus front1b-600The City Council approved a performance agreement with Tasus at their regular meeting last week. The performance agreement provides a $67,500 grant from the Georgetown Economic Development Corporation, the City’s 4A corporation, to Tasus based on job creation.

The grant is based on $1,500 per job for 45 new jobs over the next three years.

Tasus also plans to spend approximately $760,000 for infrastructure costs and $45,000 for increasing electric capacity as part of the expansion.

Tasus manufactures a variety of plastic molded parts for the automotive industry.

Rivery Hotel and Conference Center Deal Finalized

Development agreements for a 220-room Sheraton hotel and conference center at the Rivery were approved by the Georgetown City Council on January 14 and finalized this week. The Summit at Rivery Park project near Interstate 35 will include a 16,000 square-foot conference center. Construction on the hotel and conference center is slated to begin this fall and be complete by the end of 2015.

Plans for the Summit at Rivery Park project include future phases with retail stores, restaurant sites, single-family homes, and multifamily residences for a total project investment of $150 million, including $65 million for the hotel, conference center, and public parking garage. Private investors will fund most of the project cost. Novak Brothers, the developer for the Summit at Rivery project, has already constructed several brownstone residences at the site. Hines, an international real estate development firm headquartered in Houston, is a partner in the hotel and conference center.

Rivery Park will see major improvements in access and parking. The existing parking lot will be expanded and resurfaced and new park amenities will be added such as a new pond with fountains, new trails, and boardwalks with a shade structure and seating. Improvements also will be made to the disc golf course. In addition, a new 336-space public parking garage will be constructed and will be available for Rivery Park visitors at no charge. The public parking garage will be owned by the City, but its use will be shared with the hotel and conference center.

The City, the 4A Georgetown Economic Development Corporation, and the 4B Georgetown Transportation Enhancement Corporation will contribute approximately $13.25 million for construction of the new public parking garage, improvements in Rivery Park, and public roadway and utility infrastructure. The City and GEDCO will issue debt and the GTEC contribution will be made from cash on hand.

The City, GEDCO, and GTEC each will be reimbursed for their contributions over time from the tax increment fund that was established for the property in 2007. Monies in the tax increment fund consist of 100 percent of the City’s property tax increment generated from the land in the Rivery Park Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, and 80 percent of Williamson County’s property tax increment generated from land in the zone. It is anticipated that the tax increment fund will be sufficient to provide reimbursement of $12.5 million to the City and GEDCO as well as $750,000 to GTEC and $3.5 million to the developer.

The City will remit half of the 1 percent City sales tax generated in the Rivery Park TIRZ to Williamson County in consideration of Williamson County’s participation in the tax increment fund.

The Summit at Rivery Park project on I-35 will serve as a northern gateway to the Austin metro area and an anchor for future retail, office, and residential development in the center of Georgetown.

Officials Mark Opening of New Lakeway Drive Bridge

Garver Lakeway 3b-600Officials with the City of Georgetown joined the Texas Department of Transportation yesterday at a ribbon-cutting to mark the opening of the new Lakeway Drive Bridge in Georgetown. The new bridge opened to traffic last week.

The construction project replaced the Lakeway Drive Bridge and re-aligned the roadway at Interstate 35 near the Georgetown Municipal Airport. The newly-constructed bridge has two through-lanes and a dedicated left-turn lane in each direction for a total of six lanes, up from the previous narrow two-lane bridge. In addition to the added capacity, the bridge has sidewalks on each side and space to accommodate bicycles. (Click on photos for a larger version.)

”Safety concerns were the primary reason to replace the bridge, which had no sidewalks or bike lanes, and had steep inclines and sat at a skewed angle, creating limited sight distance for drivers,” said Georgetown Mayor George Garver. “Lakeway Drive is the only I-35 crossing in the 4.6-mile segment between Williams Drive and SH 195. With the growth of our city, this new bridge is a very important element, for both mobility and safety.”

Lakeway Bridge lanes 1b-600The total project cost for the Lakeway Drive Bridge replacement and re-alignment work is $10.25 million, which includes $2.5 million from Georgetown Transportation Enhancement Corporation, which is funded through a 0.5 percent sales tax in Georgetown.

”This project is a great example of collaboration by a number of agencies and we are excited to see this new bridge become a reality,” Garver said.

Work on the project began in Dec. 2011 and is expected to be complete in March. The contractor is Chasco Construction of Round Rock.

“This new bridge will increase capacity at one of the city’s most congested intersections and we’re happy to celebrate its opening with all our partners,” said John Peters, TxDOT Georgetown assistant area engineer. “We strive to achieve excellence in safety every day and this project will definitely enhance safety and mobility for all citizens who travel through the area.”

ribbon Lakeway 1b-600

Georgetown 3rd on Best American Suburbs Ranking

A recent analysis of 75 cities in the top 25 U.S. metro areas ranked Georgetown third on the list. The top ten list of America’s Best Suburbs, placing Georgetown at no. 3 in the country, was done by Movoto, a real estate company in California. The ranking was based on several factors including shopping, dining, and entertainment offerings as well as cost of living, low crime, education, and employment.

The article notes that Georgetown’s crime rate is 45 percent below the national average and that the cost of living is nearly 9 percent lower than the national average. The article also cites Georgetown’s low student-to-teacher ratio.

Movoto provided an explanation of the appeal of the major metro cities on the list. “These smaller cities and towns offer proximity to everything their larger neighbors have to offer, while oftentimes being safer and less crowded.”

“This ranking is a wonderful tribute to our history, our vitality, our values and our fantastic citizens,” says Mayor George Garver. “Good schools, good public safety personnel, and a great living environment make this city very desirable. We take pride in this ranking knowing that others have discovered what we already know about Georgetown—it’s a great place to live.”

The ranking was based on an analysis of data from sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To see the list of the 10 best American suburbs, as well as the full ranking of metro 75 cities, go to http://www.movoto.com/blog/top-ten/best-suburban-cities-in-america.

Texas Life-sciences Center Breaks Ground on Building 3

The Texas Life-sciences Collaboration Center, a biotech accelerator in south Georgetown, held a groundbreaking on Thursday for building three.

TLCC bldg 3 shovels1b-1000

The new 15,000 square-foot building will include cleanroom space for the manufacture of medical devices and other biotech products. The building should be completed in January.

TLCC 3 rendering-b-1000

The new building will be owned by GREX and constructed by FT Woods Construction.

Started in 2007, the center is now home to eight member companies: Celling BioSciences, Cleanint, DiFusion Technologies, DisperSol Technologies, Microbinc, Molecular Templates, Radix BioSolutions, and Xeris Pharmaceuticals. Those companies have a total of 62 employees earning a combined annual income of $5 million. Total capital investment at the center is $40 million.