In booming Austin, Texas—a red-hot real estate market primed by tech-sector-startup money and a staggering 159 new arrivals daily in 2016—the quickly coalescing mega-development of Whisper Valley seems perfectly normal.
A Texas-sized tract of land east of downtown has broken ground, with a handful of finished model homes foreshadowing a massive planned community, now on sale and set to open later this year. When it’s completed, it will will encompass more than 7,500 single and multi-family homes and more than two million square feet of commercial space.
But it’s not the size or scale that sets this development apart. With geothermal wells being dug, Google Fiber high-speed internet cables being laid, and solar panels shipped in by the truckload, Whisper Valley offers something new: a sustainable, large-scale, and, most importantly, affordable suburban development. Homes start at $190,000, well below the market median of $311,000.
Built by EcoSmart Solutions, a new subsidiary of mega-builder Taurus Investment Holdings, a global real estate giant, Whisper Valley is a $2 billion dollar bet that going green isn’t just an upscale luxury for “coastal elites,” or the providence of custom homebuilders. In the words of Peter Merrigan, Taurus’s co-founder and CEO, it’s a “big opportunity.”
“We think this kind of development is scalable, and will become the industry norm,”
Whisper Valley represents a sea change in suburban and master-planned communities. Though it’s not the first large project to focus on green homes, it’s the largest and one of the most ambitious, aiming to provide net-zero energy capable homes (which produce as much energy as they use) squarely aimed at the mass market.