Huge central Texas property near Rockdale sells for $ 240 million


A North Texas-based investment group paid $ 240 million for a property of more than 31,000 acres in central Texas.

Alcoa Corp., a Pennsylvania-based industrial company, was the seller of the former Rockdale industrial site in Milam and Lee counties, about 45 miles northeast of Austin, between Austin and College Station. The property was once used for an aluminum smelter and coal mine, but has been restored with lakes and farmland.

Alcoa said the buyer was SLR Property I LP, a subsidiary of a private Texas-based real estate investment entity.

Dallas real estate broker Bernard Uechtritz handled the transaction after spending six years marketing the sprawling property called Sandow Lakes Ranch.

“I put it on sale at Halloween 2015 and here we are at Halloween 2021 and it’s finally closed,” Uechtritz said.

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The property comes with water rights and 15 lakes. There are thousands of hectares of pasture and farmland. Parts of the land have also been developed for potential manufacturing and industrial uses.

Uechtritz and Alcoa have not identified the buyer. But in documents filed with the State of Texas, SLR Property I LP was listed at the same Dallas address on Ross Avenue as Xebec, a Dallas-based real estate development and investment management company.

A buyer’s representative said in an email that it was a “group of Texas-based real estate investors” that had yet to finalize plans for the property.

The Alcoa area is 50 km long and more than twice the size of Manhattan. The aluminum company had owned the property since the 1950s and had a factory there which was closed as of 2008.

“As well as being incredibly beautiful, it’s incredibly diverse in terms of utility,” Uechtritz said. “Alcoa took a fossil fuel goliath and turned it into a center of green energy and pure water.

“It’s an incredible achievement,” he said. “They reclaimed those gaping coal mines 30 years ago and ended up with incredible pastures and a chain of lakes.”

Sandow Lakes Ranch was marketed for its agricultural uses, water resources, and industrial development potential.

A French company has offered to build a solar farm with more than a million power generation panels on part of the property.

“We are confident that the work we have done to prepare this site for this completed transaction will bring significant benefits to our former host community and the surrounding areas of Rockdale,” said Rob Bear, vice president of Alcoa, in a written statement.

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In 2017, Uechtritz and Milam County officials pitched the Sandow Lakes Ranch property as a potential site for Amazon’s $ 5 billion second headquarters – a project that has drawn competition from across the country, including including multiple locations in the Austin metro area. The project, dubbed Amazon HQ2, is expected to include at least 25,000 jobs by 2030.

“Our proposal asks Amazon to examine the limitless opportunities of a site over 33,000 acres, within 60 miles of 2.5 million people, two leading research universities, and just two hours away and half of the state’s three major population centers, “Milam County Judge Dave Barkemeyer said in a written statement in 2017.

Amazon chose to split HQ2 between the New York and Virginia sites, but then moved the entire project to Virginia after political opposition grew in New York City over the planned incentives offered to Amazon.

Supplementary material from the American-Statesman Archives.

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