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Developer eyes Liberty Hill as next growth area
Jan 23, 2015, 5:00 am
Jan Buchholz, Staff Writer - Austin Business Journal

Developer Bill Hinckley has big plans for a new Clearwater Ranch master-planned community in Liberty Hill.

"It's drop-dead pretty," Hinckley said of the 600-acre parcel on CR 200 just north of Texas Highway 29.

Hinckley, the founder of The Lookout Group Inc., based in Houston, is no stranger to the Austin area.

For several years the company has developed Crystal Falls, the 5,000-acre master-planned community in Leander that has sparked intense growth in the Northwest Austin submarket and is repeatedly named to the Top 50 Master-Planned Communities list published by California-based John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

Hinckley now is focusing on Clearwater Ranch, which will include about 500 custom and semi-custom homes on 1-acre lots. The model homes are open to the public and the community's official opening is set for March 1.

He's owned the land for 15 years waiting f or the opportune time for development.

"I've been screaming about this area for a long time. It's been under the radar screen," Hinckley said.

Past development issues involving infrastructure, particularly water and wastewater, have been resolved, along with an improved road system, he said. In Hinckley's estimation, the area is perfect for executive housing that caters to the affluent homeowner who works in the north and northwest submarket and wants to be located within the highly-rated Liberty Hill Independent School District.

"Liberty Hill has really gotten its act together. They have the biggest, nicest new high school you've ever seen. It looks like a college," Hinckley said.

He cites the hiring of a full-time city manager — former Williamson County Commissioner Greg Boatright — as another major leap forward, along with recruiting Jim Bechtol, a former planner with the city of Leander.

The Lookout Group selected three builders for Clearwater Ranch. The builders are Austin-based Giddens Homes, San Antonio-based Sitterle Homes and Kentucky-based Drees Custom Homes.

When he's not tooling around Leander and Liberty Hill, Hinckley is driving 80 miles per hour on Texas Highway 130 heading south where The Lookout Group is building Esperanza, a 1,200-acre community in Boerne.

The Lookout Group hired Austinite Jim Plasek, a former executive with The Kucera Cos., Taylor-Morrison Homes and Trammell Crow Residential, as its vice president of community development.

Hinckley believes he's got another winning development on his hands.

"It does not take a genius to see what is ahead. Drive RR 620, RR 1431 and then Highway 29. We're next in line and we believe in Liberty Hill," he said.

Originally printed in Austin Business Journal

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The Lookout Development Group, Inc.
1789 S. Bagdad Road, Ste. 104 Leander, Texas 78641

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