Massive tract east of Austin on market for $250M

sandowFrom today’s Austin Business Journal:

Alcoa Inc. has put its Texas land holdings on the market for $250 million, which include a vast array of water rights that could be the biggest known deal of its kind ever struck in the Lone Star State.

The property — known as Sandow Lakes Ranch — being sold by the New York-based metals manufacturer totals nearly 33,800 acres. The land spans three counties and sits about 45 miles east of downtown Austin.

“This is the largest water deal of its kind,” said Bernard Uechtritz, who is the Dallas broker behind the sale of the famed $725 million Waggoner Ranch .”It has an incredible amount of holding capacity and that holding capacity could be increased.”

Uechtritz is marketing Sandow Lakes Ranch, which stretches 30 miles long across three Texas counties, on behalf of the seller, Alcoa, through his newly formed company, Dallas-based International Icon Properties.

The ranch includes 14 lakes covering 1,960 surface acres, totaling 48,379 acre-feet of water. Each year, the ranch is permitted 44,000 acre feet of water through the Simsboro Aquifer with an additional 14,000 acre-feet available for permitting.

An additional 18,000 acre-feet of surface water from the Little River run through the property. By selling the ranch, Alcoa would transfer 100 percent of its water rights.

Uechtritz said the company has won a number of environmental awards for its operations and the water — which is continuously checked — could be bottled for consumption today.

As part of the deal, Alcoa would like to leaseback portions of the ranch, which includes two power plants operated by lignite with rail service. The metals manufacturer has been working at the property since the 1950s, at a time when Alcoa was mining coal on the land.

Along with water rights, the acquisition of Sandow Lakes Ranch includes:

  • 6,000-acre industrial complex, which includes roads, railhead, intermodal facility, warehousing, distribution and manufacturing;
  • 5,564 acres with 100 percent oil and gas minerals, along with 22,489 acres with 60 percent oil and gas minerals;
  • An estimated 200 million ton of lignite coal
  • A plethora of fish and wildlife that could be used for conservation;
  • Last year, the ranch produced 16,000 bales of hay, a figure that could triple under the right owner, Uechtritz said.

This is the first time Alcoa has taken the property to market since acquiring it about 100 years ago. Much like Waggoner Ranch, Uechtritz said he plans to market it worldwide through September. Uechtritz expects to select a buyer by the end of the year.

“We’ve got a lot of interest in the property,” he said. “There is so many end users for it — whether it’s bottling or municipalities or conservation — it’s a multi-faceted property from industrial to commercial to agricultural.”

One of the interested buyers could be Central Texas Regional Water Supply Corp. It has proposed a billion-dollar-plus pipeline, which, if built, would deliver water to San Antonio. The proposed 142-mile pipeline would likely cross the southern end of Sandow Lakes Ranch.

“We have the chance to put this in the right hands,” Uechtritz said. “This is an oasis outside of Austin that can really serve the community.”

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