San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

Developer Robert McDonald plans to break ground on mixed-use Red Oak Shops on Wonder World Drive within a month. Its 14,000-square-foot main building is designed by Austin-based Studio 8 architects.


Austin developer Robert McDonald plans to break ground within a month or so on more than 72,000 square feet of Class A retail and office space spread between two developments in San Marcos’ Wonder World Drive medical district.

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One of those, the Sadler East expansion of the Vista Office Plaza, will add 54,000 square feet of mostly medical office space across from Central Texas Medical Center. McDonald said Vista Plaza’s existing two buildings have vacancies of smaller suites but nothing available 6,000 square feet and larger.

“There’s certainly space on the ground available [but] what’s kind of missing is something to accommodate a little larger tenant,” McDonald said. “Because we’re interested in staying in front of the market and creating a product that allows business to come in and begin operations immediately, we want to have that space available when it is needed.”

He said he expects to begin construction within 30 days on the first of three 18,000 square foot buildings.

McDonald’s other planned development, the 18,400-square-foot Red Oak Shops on Wonder World Drive next to Starplex theater, will include two buildings. The main building will include 8,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space on the groundfloor and about 6,400 square feet of office space upstairs.

The building is designed by Austin-based Studio 8 architects such that the bottom floor faces west and the second floor faces east, McDonald said. The contractor has already pulled permits to begin construction.

“It’s going to be a really good looking, distinctive building,” McDonald said.

The Greater San Marcos Partnership, a joint economic development effort of the city and Hays and Caldwell counties, recently called on developers to submit proposals for developing more Class A medical office space, saying it is in critically short supply.

San Marcos has a 100 percent occupancy rate for Class A medical office space and a 97.4 percent occupancy rate for other classes of medical office, Gary Gannon, the partnership’s spokesperson said on Thursday. The partnership uses a database of a commercial real estate listings called Xceligent for its occupancy estimates.

“Medical is one those areas that has really survived the Great Recession very well and continued to see growth. In our area, with the baby boomers and continued overall population growth, I think you’re going to see a continued need for [medical office] for some time,” Gannon said.

McDonald thinks the partnership’s occupancy estimates are too high — the developer says he’s maintaining about 90 percent occupancy in his medical offices — but that the demand is nonetheless there, or coming, to justify expansion.

Red Oak Shops and Sadler East are being marketed for lease by Austin-based Tarantino Properties.

See what else is coming. See our development map here.

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12 thoughts on “McDonald plans Wonder World Drive developments

  1. Nice. I wonder if there is anything that can be done to build on this momentum. It would be great to see some expansion in career-type jobs, whether through expansion by existing employers, or attracting new ones. If this sector is doing well, maybe we can capitalize on that.

  2. If the Greater San Marcos Partnership called for proposals does that mean Mr. McDonald received some type of incentive, such as tax abatements, for his medical project?

  3. He has not received any tax abatement or applied for any to-date for either of these projects. I don’t know if he intends to. He built part of the Vista Office Plaza with a San Marcos property tax abatement.

  4. Just think, if apartments/ multi-family were built on existing property that would not need to be re-zoned, established neighborhoods in town would not be experiencing destructive changes forced upon them, by what in fact, is actually SPOT ZONING, a process that has been established as illegal and supported by SCOTUS backed determinations! There are a multitude of vacant/ undeveloped properties within walking and biking distances of our growing medical related facilities,conveniently located on WWD and HYW 123.Smart developements where they belong, what a novel idea. Where are the visionary planners of the world when we truly need them ? Perhaps the one we have here in town now would rather deal with a looming mountain of lawsuits! Happy Friday:-) Watch out for the black cats and leaning ladders today! JLB

  5. He actually did request incentives for this project which the council discussed in ex session last meeting and will be voting on this coming Tuesday.

  6. Maybe other developers will take a lesson from this well thought out project. Instead of cramming their projects in old established single-family neighborhoods that require SPOT ZONING and causes neighborhood distress, they will find more suitable pieces of property for their grand ideas. I know it sounds too much like the right thing to do. And, joy of joy if our city officials would aid in helping these developers do the right thing. Especially since this SPOT ZONING seems to be a no no.

  7. Thanks, John. The partnership spokesperson told me no applications had been made as of yesterday.

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