STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
BURNET — As the city of Burnet ushers in the new year, officials reported a thriving economy tied to several new or expanding housing projects, which have attracted a growing number of middle- and working-class families.
The foundation of Burnet’s housing market explosion is a program that fueled the single-family dwelling construction market and infrastructure upgrades. This, in turn, cleared the way for residential growth.
“We actually have a very good healthy mix (of growth) going on right now,” Burnet City Manager David Vaughn said. “There’s almost no lots available now (in the core of the city) because the demand has really peaked and it’s a desirable place to be.”
New or expanding housing developments include:
• Hills of Shady Grove on CR 200 just off 963, which currently has 35 single-family homes and 20 more lots being prepared with infrastructure in the current phase;
• Delaware Springs subdivision on U.S. 281 South, which has launched a new cul de sac phase of single-family dwellings with infrastructure work underway for 15-20 lots;
• Highland Oak on U.S. 281 North, which has approximately 60 homes and has launched a subsequent phase offering 45 more lots for new home construction;
• and the Langley Homes project with lots on 13 acres just off Westfall within the city limits.
City leaders have credited the My Town program, which it started in 2014, as the fuel that kindled the housing market.
The program appeared to breathe new life into the city’s anemic economy, which mirrored a nationwide economic crash started in 2008.
As a result of My Town, more than two dozen new, single-family homes popped up on lots across the city due to a cooperative effort between the city, the Burnet Economic Development Corp., builders, and real estate agents.
The city focused on roads and other infrastructure improvements and waived fees for construction in and around the new developments, essentially reversing the area’s construction industry exodus.
“We were also able to enhance the infrastructure, not only to provide for development but to provide for the people who are already there,” Vaughn said. “It was a job creation program in a way.”
The new homes, from the $200,000s to the $300,000s, began attracting local families as well as commuters whose incomes came from law enforcement, public schools, and state agencies as well as county, city, and municipal government.
“Now, the economy has improved so much that the housing market is improving on its own,” Vaughn said. “It really filled a need that had been there a long time and had not been met.”