‘Small town’ for how long? Georgetown leads the nation in population growth


Say hello to Georgetown.

The US Census desk named the city the fastest growing city in the countries as a percentage among cities with at least 50,000 inhabitants. Leander came second on the same list.

Top marks for the two towns of Williamson County are not surprising, those responsible the said.

“Many people recognize that Georgetown is a wonderful place to live and we welcome them,” Mayor Josh Schroeder said at a press conference. “We welcome them. In fact, our new slogan is that they are more than welcome in Georgetown, Texas.”

Leander Mayor Christine Delisle said upcoming jobs in central Texas have made the city an inviting place to live. “We mostly attract young families,” she said, “and they come to us with hope for a better future.”

Georgetown grew 10.5% from July 2020 to July 2021, a growth rate that will double the population in less than seven years, according to a Census Bureau release. Its population was estimated at 75,420 in 2021, according to the statement. Georgetown was also listed as the nation’s fastest growing city by the Census Bureau from July 2014 to July 2015.

Leander rose 10.1% from July 2020 to July 2021, the office said. Its population was estimated at 67,124 in 2021.

The San Gabriel River runs through Georgetown on Monday.  The U.S. Census Bureau named the city the nation's fastest growing city by percentage among those with a population of at least 50,000.  Leander was second on the same list.

New Braunfels came fifth on the census list with an 8.3% population growth from July 2020 to July 2021. The city’s population in 2021 was estimated at 98,857.

The three Central Texas cities also finished among the bureau’s 15 highest population increases from July 2020 to July 2021 in the nation. New Braunfels added 7,538 in ninth place, Georgetown added 7,193 in 10th place, and Leander finished 12th after adding 6,159 residents.

A variety of housing options at varying prices “is fueling strong population and household growth in Georgetown and Leander and throughout Williamson County.” said Bryan Glasshagel, senior vice president of housing research firm Zonda.

“Given available land, the ability to approve and get new residential developments underway, and infrastructure improvements such as Toll Road 183, Williamson County continues to be a key development area for new homes in Austin’s MSA, accounting for 45% of total new home starts,” he said.

Georgetown saw 1,557 new housing starts in 2020 and 1,803 new housing starts in 2021, Glasshagel said. He said Leander has 1,016 new housing starts in 2020 and 1,336 new housing starts in 2021

Downtown Georgetown is seen Monday.  The city grew 10.5% from July 2020 to July 2021, according to the US Census Bureau.

Forty-nine percent of new homes started in the first quarter of this year in Georgetown cost between $350,000 and $500,000, he said. In Leander, 28% of new homes started were priced between $400,000 and $500,000 during the first quarter of the year.

LILY: Tech provider CelLink predicts $130m Georgetown plant could hire 2,000 people

The city of Georgetown issued 2,520 permits for single-family homes and condominiums in fiscal year 2021, said Keith Hutchinson, a city spokesman. In the current fiscal year, the city issued 1,945 permits for condos and single-family homes, he said. The city also gained 958 apartments in fiscal year 2020 and 402 apartments in fiscal year 2021.

Leander issued 2,426 single-family residence permits last year. As of June 1 this year, it had issued 929 single-family residence permits.

As part of Georgetown’s approach to managing growth, the city is constructing a new water treatment plant on the south side of Lake Georgetown. It will double the city’s water utility treatment capacity, and construction is expected to be completed in two phases from 2025 to 2026, according to a city website.

In Leander, the city has taken a number of measures, including last year, hiring an executive director of infrastructure, creating a transportation master plan and advancing projects such as the Deep Water Intake project to pump greater amounts of water from Lake Travis said Ty Meighan, a city spokesman.

LILY: The Northline project in Leander will start construction of townhouses and an entertainment area in 2022

Russ Phillips, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty, walks through the neighborhoods of Georgetown on Monday.  Phillips said some of the historic homes that have been renovated are now million-dollar homes.

Russ Phillips, a team manager at Keller Williams Realty, which has been selling real estate in Georgetown for more than 20 years, said the town has a kind of “little American town” that draws people in.

“It’s a city with an identity,” he said. “Courthouse Square plays a major role in this because it’s sort of an anchor for many festivals and farmers’ markets.”

Georgetown was the first city in Texas to receive the Great American Main Street Award in 1997, the highest honor bestowed by the National Trust Main Street Center, according to a city website. The city has worked since 1982 to restore its downtown plaza, which includes many buildings from the 1800s.

Other city attractions include good health care, an extensive network of parks with a walking and biking trail, and low taxes, Phillips said. He said his real estate clients come from all over the United States. including California, the East Coast and other parts of Texas.

The hottest property he’s selling, he said, is a one-acre lot with a custom home and a pool.

Newcomers to Georgetown echoed what Phillips said about the town.

Barbara Hansen said she and her husband moved from Michigan to Georgetown in 2020.

“Georgetown still has that small-town feel,” she said. “Downtown is lovely but the city still has lots of outdoor activities and a lake and it’s easy to get to Austin or Dallas or Houston. Those are the things that drew me to Georgetown. ”

Hansen is also the special events coordinator for the Georgetown Newcomers Club, which she says has more than 400 members.

Linda and Mark Pinkston with their dog Luke at their home in Georgetown on Monday.  They decided to move to Georgetown in 2020 to be closer to their loved ones. "Georgetown was much more like Maryland," says Linda.

Linda Pinkston, the club’s former president, said she and her husband moved to the city in 2020 from Maryland to be close relatives. She said she liked that Georgetown was small enough that it was only a five to ten minute drive to get to the places she wanted to go.

“Georgetown was much more like Maryland,” she said. “We lived on an acre in Maryland and we live on an acre here. We have privacy but next-door neighbors too.”

Don Hemingway, real estate broker and owner of Crystal Falls Realty in Leander, said the availability of jobs in central Texas is drawing people to the city.

“Companies like Apple, Tesla and Amazon are not only bringing their stuff, but they’re also having people they do business with moving to the greater Austin area,” Hemingway said.

He said the two types of home buyers Leander has are middle-income families and high-income families, he said.

“Leander used to be a dorm community where people went to Austin and they were usually middle-income families, but now we have $1.5 million homes as well,” he said. “Leander now has a home for just about anyone.”

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