News Article | 6/6/2012

Dallas developer steps into Rocky Creek subdivision

Hillwood Communities is developing more land in the Rocky Creek residential subdivision along Hamilton Pool Road in western Travis County, with the next 100 lots to be ready for homebuilders in July, the company said.

In all, the Dallas-based firm founded by Ross Perot Jr. plans to develop nearly 400 lots at Rocky Creek over the next three years if sales continue at their current pace of about 75 houses a year, Brian Carlock, senior vice president for Hillwood, said in an email Monday.

Hillwood has developed lots for the 90 homes built to date at Rocky Creek, with eight more under construction.

Hillwood also said Monday that it is buying the remaining 52 residential acres in Sarita Valley, a master-planned community in Leander, from Austin-based Riverside Resources.

Hillwood plans to start developing the second phase in July to sell to builders in the project, which is east of the 183-A tollway.

Riverside Resources completed the first phase, 55 lots, earlier this year. More phases are planned, Carlock said.

Slated for 255 homes, Sarita Valley is off Ronald Reagan Boulevard between RM 1431 and RM 2243.

Drees Custom Homes and Grand Haven Homes are building houses there in the $230,000 to $430,000 range, Carlock said.

At Rocky Creek, Drees and Highland Homes are building homes in the $320,000 to $600,000 range, Carlock said.

Hillwood was drawn to Rocky Creek and Sarita Valley for a number of reasons, Carlock said, with “outstanding homebuilders and a great location in Austin’s Hill Country … only the beginning.”

Sales from Rocky Creek’s first phase “have already far exceeded our expectations,” Carlock said.

In addition, “the healthy Central Texas economy and homebuilding market further validate Hillwood’s commitment to expand in the area,” Carlock said.

Though builders scaled back during the economic downturn, experts say Central Texas’ housing market held up better than other parts of the country.

Hillwood purchased the 468 acres formerly known as Rocky Creek Ranch in 2010 from a bank that had foreclosed on the property.

The first phase of Rocky Creek was completed in March 2011. Hillwood’s next 100 lots will complete the second of four phases.

“Rocky Creek Ranch has had strong sales since its opening several years ago,” said Eldon Rude, director of the Austin region for Metrostudy, which tracks the housing market locally and nationally. “Of all the markets tracked by Metrostudy in the Austin region, the Lake Travis submarket has experienced the strongest rebound in new homes sales since the recession hit in 2008.”

Rocky Creek’s draws include large lots, open spaces and its location in the desirable Lake Travis school district, Rude said.

At Sarita Valley, Drees and Grand Haven have sold 16 houses, with an average sales price of $360,000, Carlock said.

While new home demand has been strong for many years along the Parmer Lane corridor south of RM 1431, Sarita Valley “is one of several new home communities now offering home buyers options north of this major roadway,” Rude said. “The location of the subdivision in the Leander (school district) will be a strong selling point for the community.”

Said Carlock: “Builders will need lots before I can complete them, which is a good problem.”