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Growing, growing, growing

By Jim Mikula, President/CEO



In last week’s paper, Christine Granados, reporter for Fredericksburg Standard Radio Post, wrote a story titled “Finding Balance.” It was eye opening to see all the different types of developments in one article: single family, multifamily, and commercial. According to her reporting, there is the potential of 720 new single-family homes coming onto the market and the likelihood that it will take the rest of this decade for all these units to be constructed and sold.

 

The multi-family numbers are significant, in my opinion. This year the inventory increased by 495 units creating a total of 1,317 apartments on the market or a 60% increase. In March of 2023, apartment occupancy was 98% and as of May 2024 the occupancy was 75%. The number of occupied units increased by 178. Hopefully, the additional tenants are folks who are now able to live and work in Fredericksburg. (Note: each quarter the Chamber will generate a multi-family occupancy report for use by the Gillespie County Economic Development Commission and City of Fredericksburg Development Department.)

 

For the curious reader, the breakdown of units is 3% studio apartments, 32% one-bedroom apartments, 53% two-bedroom apartments, and 12% three-bedroom apartments.

 

There are 156 more multi-family units under construction and another 629 approved and not started. When all are completed, we will have a total of 2,102 units, triple the number of units at the end of 2023.

 

Recently, I met with one of the developers who has an approved project, but which is not yet started. He stated that his group wants to create housing that is affordable for young families, teachers, first responders, medical staff, and other important jobs in our community. He reached out to the Chamber, specifically, to talk about ensuring their business model can be a part of solving our housing challenge.

 

I am wondering what the unintended positive and negative consequences of this growth might be. The positive can include more workers from all sectors living in Fredericksburg and contributing to our community. Another positive is the potential of growth in the service sector to accommodate an increasing population (thinking about the Fredericksburg Entrepreneurial Initiative). On the negative side, there will be increased traffic on several key access roads and pressure on some key services.

 

You might be wondering what point I am making with this week’s column. My intended purpose is to provide information that prompts us to do some forward thinking to prepare for the positive and negative unintended consequences of this growth. I agree with Clinton Bailey about making sure that the structures of new developments blend into the architectural/design style of Fredericksburg and “keep that look and character, all those things that have been done right for the last 175 years.” I am confident that we can keep the look and character of Fredericksburg. My concern is how we infuse our new residents and businesses with the culture of Fredericksburg - one that includes active participation in our non-profit organizations, caring for the natural beauty of the hill country, and maintaining the spirit of being a small town that supports us all.

 

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Jun 13

I think this is an important conversation and definitely raises complex issues to address. I appreciate the think-forward desire in order to attempt to prepare for the +/- of our growing, sweet town.

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