Picturesque Bee Cave was once a sleepy suburb of Austin. But in recent years, the community has grown both in terms of population and development.
The number of Bee Cave residents surged from 650 in 1987 to 11,000 in March 2015. The small city is now home to award-winning schools, an increasing number of retail developments as well as luxury residential communities. Thousands of new homes are expected to be built over the next few years in neighborhoods such as Bella Colinas and Spanish Oaks.
The Hill Country Galleria is the center of Bee Cave’s retail boom. The upscale, 1.3 million-square-foot mixed-use project was recently sold to the California State Teachers Retirement System and partner Invesco Real Estate in a blockbuster deal.
With stores such as Whole Foods, World Market, and California Closets, the Galleria is located off State Highway 71 and is nearing completion of a $16 million remodel that began last year.
CBRE’s Courtney Bunte, property marketing manager for the Galleria, said via email that the transformation “will create a more vibrant, comfortable and convenient shopping and entertainment destination for shoppers with landscaping upgrades, more shaded areas, new walkways and a new entertainment district featuring a grassy lawn, a new splash pad and additional outdoor seating.”
The retail center is currently more than 90 percent leased with the addition of several new tenants over the past year, including H&M, Frost Bank, RIDE Indoor Cycling, Premier Family Physicians and Restore Cryotherapy.
Houston-based developer Rockspring Capital has plans to build a 22.5- acre commercial development on Highway 71 to deliver pad sites for retail customers. The company declined to comment as to the status of that project at the time of writing.
The area also got a big boost when the 195-room, six-story Sonesta Bee Cave Hotel opened in July 2015 at the Galleria, offering an alternative outside of downtown Austin for those seeking to host meetings or galas.
Bee Cave City Manager Travis Askey notes that the city updated its comprehensive plan in late 2016, and approved a hike and bike connectivity plan.
“As we do residential and non-residential developments, the focus is on providing amenities to improve the quality of life for residents and visitors,” he said.
The area is also experiencing somewhat of a commercial boom, Askey said, with several office projects under construction including one called Galleria Oaks being planned adjacent to the Hill Country Galleria.
That office project, developed by Sonesta Bee Cave owner Adrian Overstreet and The RMR Group, will include two 75,000-square-foot office buildings and a parking garage.
The Hill Country Galleria also boasts a number of office tenants
But when asked why the area seems to be increasingly appealing to people, Askey doesn’t hesitate when he answers, “Property taxes.”
Indeed, in September 2016, the city of Bee Cave said it intended to continue its $0.02 per $100 valuation property tax rate in fiscal year 2016-17. The tax remains one of the lowest in the area.
“Our lower tax rate is the reason people continue to move here since we are a city built on sales tax,” he said. “That’s what keeps us competitive.”