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Chanel plans Austin manufacturing plant

Statesman - 8-16-18

French retailer Chanel plans to build a manufacturing facility in Austin, according to county deed records and documents filed with the city.


The company – known for its pricey perfumes, handbags, jewelry, fashion wear, makeup and skin care products — has purchased 50 acres east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport through a real estate holding company it controls, deed records show.


A deed dated May 21 shows an entity called Tmine Inc. acquired the land in the Del Valle area from its previous owner, SH 71-130 Holdings LP, for an undisclosed price. Tmine Inc. is connected to Chanel on a number of documents, as the entity shares the same New York address as Chanel’s U.S. headquarters, and Chanel executive Louis Erickson is named on the deed. Erickson, a Chanel vice president, did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment.


The proposed project for the site would consist of a “manufacturing warehouse with associated site improvements (utilities, parking, detention and water quality ponds)” on just over 50 acres on FM 973 near Texas 71 and the Texas 130 toll road, according to an application filed with the city of Austin. The application doesn’t say what would be manufactured at the facility, but sources familiar with the project said it will be Chanel skin care products.


City documents don’t detail when work on the project might begin or how many workers the facility could employ.


City staff members have conducted an initial review of the application and are awaiting an updated site plan that addresses staff comments, city spokeswoman Sylvia Arzola said.

Chanel spokeswoman Kate Babb Shone said by email that the company “regrets that we are not able to connect you with an executive for comment.”


Mike Rollins, president and CEO of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, declined to comment on the project.


The tract purchased by the Chanel-controlled entity is part of the 390-acre Velocity Crossing development. Local investors Doug Launius, Karl Koebel and George Robinson III purchased the site in December 2014. Launius and Koebel are principals of Marketplace Real Estate Group, an Austin-based real estate investment and development company that owns or controls about 1,500 acres in Southeast Austin.


Regarding the May 21 land purchase by Tmine Inc., Launius and Koebel confirmed that a sale of 50.36 acres within Velocity Crossing had occurred but declined to disclose the buyer, citing a confidentiality agreement. The Travis Central Appraisal District puts the market value of the land at $2.87 million this year. However, local real estate brokers say the land likely sold for more than that amount.


In a written statement, Launius and Koebel said: “We are pleased to welcome another exceptional company to Velocity Crossing and Southeast Austin. Along with H-E-B, Austin Community College and strong interest from additional users and employers, we are excited about the future of this strategically located property.”


San Antonio-based grocery chain H-E-B in 2016 bought a tract in Velocity Crossing for a future grocery store, and Austin Community College purchased adjacent land to the south for a future campus.


In 2016, Velocity Crossing received city of Austin zoning approval for about 5 million square feet of development, including office, retail, multifamily housing, entertainment (movie theater), hotel, grocery and manufacturing/industrial uses. Local real estate experts said the area is a prime location for future development due to its high visibility and access to major roadways, among other factors.


In recent years, the area has seen about $1 billion in completed and ongoing improvements on highly traveled roads, including Texas 71, U.S. 183 and FM 973.


The entire Del Valle area is in a “triple freeport” zone, which exempts businesses from paying taxes on inventory that is shipped out of state within 175 days.


Shortly after Launius, Koebel and Robinson purchased the land, Launius told the American-Statesman that the freeport zone will be a “major, major catalyst for industrial and manufacturing growth.”


Charles Heimsath, a local real estate consultant, said the proposed manufacturing facility “further confirms the growing importance of the node of activity at the intersection of Texas 130 and Texas 71.”


“As land prices increase and land availability diminishes west of Interstate 35, the eastern part of Travis County is becoming more attractive,” Heimsath said. “I anticipate much more development and growing demand for housing and commercial activity in the Texas 130 corridor over the next few years.”

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