Almost 200 acres just outside Round Rock, Texas, were coveted by some of the biggest developers in the U.S.

Located a few miles north of the booming city of Austin, the raw parcel could be used for virtually anything given the state’s lenient land-use laws. So when the prominent Robinson family put the property on the market last year, there was strong interest from a range of real estate players, including home builders, private equity giant Blackstone and Prologis, an industrial landlord that rents out warehouses across the country. But when the successful bidder emerged in October, it wasn’t a real estate firm. It was the world’s largest e-commerce company: Amazon.com.

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