Some semi-random Austin development stats. (All stats for Austin proper.)
Year Number of multi-family units approved (City)*
The magnitudes there are mildly interesting. 10,748 is a lot. 7,097 is a lot, too, just not as many as 10,748.
The comparison between 2012 and 2013 is more interesting for the urban core.
Year Number of multi-family units approved (urban core)*
6,172 is still a lot. But 1,813, frankly, isn't all that many new units. (Austin's urban core has something north of 300,000 people.) And 1,813 is a lot fewer than 6,172.
I have a couple of theories to explain the drop from 2012 to 2013. One is that, after the infill rush of the last few years, developers have picked most of the low-hanging fruit. They started with the large sites, the easy sites. They've been working their way down to smaller sites, or trickier sites. They're now on to small infill projects in East Austin rather than proposing new Corazons. Mid-size projects on mid-size UNO parcels, rather than massive student dorms. There's been a pause in large VMU projects, perhaps because so many of the obvious sites (or easily assembled sites) have already been claimed.
The demand for more housing in the urban core is still there. So is the willingness to supply it. The City actually approved more multi-family site plans in the urban core in 2013 than in 2012 (26 versus 23). The projects were just much smaller. Project size dropped from an average (mean) of 268 units in 2012 to 70 units in 2013. (That's no fluky, outlier-biased mean, either: the median project plummeted from 248 units to 24 units).
Like I said, I have a couple of theories. Low-hanging fruit is one. The other is that because I'm extrapolating from only two data points I'm just getting random variation. Perhaps 2014 will go gangbusters. Perhaps it will turn out to be the year of the #JackintheBoxPUD.
*All statistics are based on the number of units in approved site plans for the given calendar year. I used approved site plans rather than submitted site plans because approved site plans are more accurate about final pfoject unit counts. All statistics are derived from the City demographer's multi-family report.