SH 29 becoming home to myriad of new businesses, retail centers
By Rachel Madison
Commercial development across Liberty Hill continues to move full speed ahead, particularly along the State Highway 29 corridor thanks to its visibility to thousands of motorists per day.
On the Highway
About a mile west of Ronald Reagan Boulevard on the south side of the highway, construction has begun again at Vista at 29, a mixed-use project that plans to bring retail, restaurants and office space to the area.
Ground was broken and pad sites were put in place for two 20,000-square-foot buildings earlier this year, but due to the coronavirus, construction halted for several months. In early September, contractors began working on the project once again.
Ryan Perry, vice president and broker with Asterra, said he estimates a delivery date of January 2021 on the project.
“We stopped for a while during the height of COVID, but now we are filling the property with tenants and buyers, including retailers and offices,” he said. “Vista at 29 will provide tremendous visibility in one of the fastest growing areas in the entire Austin region. We have leases signed with a pediatric dentist, a general dentist, an insurance organization, a mortgage broker and a liquor store.”
Perry added that he’s actively working to land a coffee shop, a yogurt shop, a pizza restaurant, a dermatologist and other professional office users.
“I am also looking for additional medical and professional and retail users,” he said. “Those who have already signed leases will start work and renovations in January and move in and be up and going by March or April of 2021.”
Heading into Liberty Hill, on the north side of the highway next to Meridell Achievement Center, is the nearly-completed Higginbotham Brothers project. The store, which will provide locals with hardware, lumber and lawn and garden wares, is completed and merchandise is being moved in. Jerrod Worsham, owner of Jimmy Jacobs Construction, said his company will be wrapped up with their work on the project this week. The store is set to have a grand opening in mid-October.
“Everything is looking good,” Worsham said. “They’ve hired their manager and they are stocking shelves and getting ready. It turned out great. It was another successful project for us.”
Another project breaking ground in the next couple of months on the north side of Highway 29 will be a 6,000-square-foot animal hospital, next to Sunny Hill RV Park. That hospital will be owned by Dr. Matthew Brooks of New Hope Animal Hospital in Leander.
On the south side of the highway heading into Liberty Hill are several new and planned projects. The first, an Austin Regional Clinic, is well underway.
Darlene Guynes, director of facilities management for Austin Regional Clinic, said the developer, Huffman Builders, is currently building the shell building at 12779 SH 29 West. Huffman anticipates building completion by the end of 2020, and ARC will begin finish out in early summer of 2021. The 6,400-square-foot clinic, when completed by early fall, will open with family medicine and pediatrics.
Norman Phillips, property manager for Life Long Property Management and associate with Hawkins Family Partners, is close to completion on a new building at 12705 SH 29 West, behind Liberty Meadows Plaza, which houses Care First Walk-in Clinic, Bright Fire Cigars and Donut Palace.
“We own the front building and we’re adding the building behind it, which will add 5,000 square feet,” he said. “It is a retail/flex capable building on the same lot. Because we have our urgent care there, and Austin Regional Clinic is coming in, we feel like that would be a great corridor for health and wellness businesses. We are looking for businesses to fit that mold.”
Construction on the project is set to be completed by the end of this month. The glass work is currently being done, and then the final finish out inside will complete the project. Phillips added that he doesn’t have any tenants leased for the building yet, but he has seen some interest from businesses such as a dry cleaner and a coffee shop.
On the other side of Liberty Meadows Plaza, also on the south side of the highway, is the future location for Liberty Hill Pediatrics. Their office, headed up by Dr. Tiffani Scott, has been in Clark Commons at 101 Jonathan Drive since 2015.
Highway 29 Office Park, on the south side of the highway, is continuing to be leased, said Perry, and is currently approximately 50 percent occupied.
“We have a mix of construction companies, therapists, pharmacists and insurance organizations there,” Perry said. “Leasing is going well, and we should be full by middle of next year. We started from zero with that property and we had to work our way up. We are looking for retail and office tenants who need good visibility, great parking, new finish outs, a nice building and an affordable price.”
At the Water Tower Center, on the south side of the highway, UPS is opening a store between Texas Taco Kitchen and the Baylor Scott & White therapy group, said Monique Rivera, broker with Asterra. That store should open within the next three months, she added.
Panther Plaza, on the corner of County Road 200 and SH 29, remains empty.
“We are working with a couple of groups that would take about half of the building,” said Phil Morris, assistant vice president at RESOLUT RE. “We’re still in negotiations so we’ll have to see how far we get, but it’s looking promising, at least up until now.”
Jardin Plaza, located next door to Mexican restaurant Jardin Corona at 15395 W. SH 29 on the south side of the highway, is being developed by JLB Real Estate. Francisco Puebla, co-owner of developer JLB Real Estate and manager of Jardin Corona, said the building will consist of six units total ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 square feet each. Steel framing for the project has now been erected and build out has begun, but the completion date of the project is still unknown.
Another project with highway visibility is the Heritage Ridge retail development, which will be a 10.5-acre project that will include eight commercial spots. It’s located on the south side of the highway as well, next to Liberty Hill Junior High School. That project is being developed by Michael Beevers of Liberty Hill Investments.
Another project slated for Highway 29 is McCoys Building Supply. There will be a 26,000-square-foot retail building and warehouse on 12.5 acres on the south side of the highway and RM 1869.
Off the Highway
Just off the highway, heading toward downtown Liberty Hill on Loop 332, is Main Street Social, a food hall with Moonie’s Burgers on board for its flagship restaurant. Owner James Prince, of Prince Development, said in another month he will be able to give a detailed schedule of where the project’s status is at and when it will be complete.
“It’s all good stuff, but right now we are going to hold off on saying anything,” he said.
Also near downtown, in the former location of Hobo Junction, work has begun to open a new restaurant, said Phillips said. His company also owns that restaurant.
“We were working with the restaurateur to get it reopened, but it didn’t work out,” he said. “So what we’ve done is talked to a couple of other restaurateurs, and we found one we’re excited to work with.”
Farm to Fork, which has a location in Leander, is planning on opening a second location at the former Hobo Junction.
“We are working up final plans on that and how it’ll all be done,” Phillips said. “We had some delays in getting our permitting done, but we’ve had great meetings with the city [of Liberty Hill] and have gotten the go ahead. They’ve started to do some construction on it, but it’ll be a good couple of months before we can open.”
At The Shops at San Gabriel Ridge on Highway 183 in north Leander, a 2,500-square-foot restaurant, called An Thinh, is opening in about three months, and will serve Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines, Rivera said.
“The restaurant is coming to the middle of the shopping center,” she added. “An Thinh means ‘peaceful’ in Vietnamese.”
The 183 Highlands Retail Center does not have any additional tenants besides #thesmiledoc, which is now open. Mason Turner, associate at Turner Commercial Properties, said he is currently working through some letters of intent, but has nothing official to report at this time.
Overall, from every direction, it’s obvious that Liberty Hill is growing, and with that growth will come more commercial development, Phillips said.
“Big things are coming to Liberty Hill,” he said. “With the population growth, there will be a need for more services and more businesses. We’re seeing the sleepy little town of Liberty Hill turn into a bustling, busy little spot in Williamson County. It’s very exciting to see.”