Veramendi is 2,430 acres of master-planned green space—enough land for 5,000 residential dwellings, with room left over for retail outlets, a university campus, two elementary schools, a hotel, and a town center. Every Veramendi resident will be within 300 yards of a park facility, the development itself will be within 30 minutes of 10 other colleges and within an hour of multiple major airports, and its area’s unemployment rate is more than two percent lower than the state average, so residents will likely be able to find jobs. Plus, Texas’s lack of personal and corporate income taxes makes Veramendi an ideal business environment.
“It will be like a little city within itself—a city within a city—but it will have the feel of a small town,” Nielsen says, adding that nearby annual festivals such as Wurstfest, Wein & Saengerfest, Wassailfest, and Gruene Wine and Music Festival will help residents build meaningful relationships with their neighbors.
Additionally, the land around Veramendi is beautiful: steep bluffs and cliffs, undulating hills, and two rivers will make relocating there an easy sell. And, a 600-acre green belt running through the center of the development will bring nature into the heart of the community. “I think green space is essential for a quality development,” Nielsen says. “The greenbelt is like building on a golf course, but better because it’s accessible to all.”
Veramendi will be connected to New Braunfels, Texas, along State Highway Loop 337. The city is 33 miles from downtown San Antonio and 50 from downtown Austin, and Randolph Air Force Base and Fort Sam Houston are within driving distance.
The development is named for Juan Martin de Veramendi, the former governor of the state of Coahuila and Tejas, who received land grants from the Mexican government in 1825 and 1831 for the property that the development now occupies. A German emigration company purchased some of the land from the Veramendi estate to found New Braunfels.
New Braunfels is located within the Austin-San Antonio growth corridor. This area has grown in population by 58 percent in just the past decade, and both cities are ranked by several media sources as top landing spots for businesses and young professionals. Forbes, for instance, rated Austin and San Antonio as, respectively, the number one and number four “boom towns” in the United States in 2011. “When we came to assess the property, we saw a beautiful piece of land,” Nielsen says. “The riverfront, the parkland—we knew we wanted to pursue opportunities there.”
ASA Properties is the company behind Veramendi. The Texas-based group of Australian property developers chose the state because of its geographic and cultural similarities to the Sunburnt Country. “It struck us that there’s a common culture between Texans and Australians,” Nielsen says. “It’s sort of a healthy disdain for authority, a sort of Outback feeling.” Nielsen and Peter James, ASA’s principals, have a combined 50 years of experience in real estate development.
The developers finished obtaining governmental approvals in the first quarter of 2013. The first phase of construction is slated to begin in early 2015, and the City of New Braunfels, which approved Veramendi’s “Development Agreement and Master Framework Plan,” will continue to oversee and approve all stages of the community’s development. The project’s master plan has 1,200 acres of land slated for residential use, 380 acres for nonresidential use, and 480 acres for public parks and hiking and biking trails.
Despite (or perhaps because of) Veramendi’s broad appeal, it’s hard to know who its buyers will be, but Nielsen believes the community will attract individuals from San Antonio and Austin, and he has also met residents who plan to relocate from as far away as Houston and Dallas because they prefer the Hill Country. Nielsen says the area is being developed with a focus on community living, and nearby water parks, a gym, high-ranked schools, two rivers, and several small, beautiful towns will help draw city-dwellers. “It’s the sort of project that will appeal to every sort of buyer profile, from the more inexpensive housing to the million-dollar properties that overlook the river,” Nielsen says. “It’s got the sites, and it’s got the services.”
The access to entertainment and education will draw a diverse crowd to the area, but planned green space is what will really set the community apart from any other in the area. “That’s really the heart and soul of what Veramendi will be,” Nielsen says. “Time will tell if it all makes sense, if it all works.”