The Texas-China Investment Summit, held last month in Austin, could bring millions of dollars in foreign investments to projects in Central Texas. Of the many possible development opportunities in search of funding listed on the summit’s site, five projects, totaling $300 million worth of investments, are currently in negotiations with a potential Chinese backer.
It wouldn’t be the first sign of international interest in local real estate. Texas is the third largest market in the nation for overseas real estate investors, and China alone represented 31 percent of foreign investments in the state in 2015, totaling more than $1.14 billion. Compared to Dallas and Houston, one of Austin’s challenges to international investment is a frustratingly small airport with limited international direct flights.
We don’t know which five projects are on the table from the list of more than 75, but two are particularly worth noting.
The first eyebrow-raising investment opportunity is $28 million sought for Snowland, a proposed indoor skiing facility next door to the Circuit of the Americas. That’s indoor skiing with real snow, at least as real as you can make it with machines.
Though indoor skiing facilities exist in Dubai and a few other countries, Snowland would be the first of its kind in the United States, something Austinites could be mighty proud of — not that we need more reasons to attract visitors, of course. The odds of investors choosing to fund this slightly bizarre venture instead of more condos and mixed-use developments are pretty slim, but a city can certainly dream.
The only further info available regarding Snowland Austin is a tragically broken website for TASAT, allegedly the management corporation handling the project. Basically, the only thing working on the site is a calculator for the cost of document translation services — apparently the going rate for translating Chinese into English is $30 a page, which is nice work if you can get it.
The second notable investment opportunity: the luxury 35-story downtown Austin condo development 70 Rainey, which is already under construction, seeks a further investment of $140 million, something you should probably root for if you’d prefer for the trucks and cranes taking over Rainey Street to disappear anytime soon. The 70 Rainey development will bring more than 160 residences to the street, each with its own balcony, along with a ground-level restaurant space.
It took developers Sackman Enterprises a long time to soothe the ruffled feathers of the City Council and the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, the latter of which is directly adjacent to the site, but it appears that we’re all getting along now!
If more Chinese investors plan to get involved, it might be a good idea to start getting familiar with the language. Keep Austin guàiyì — that’s Mandarin for “weird.”