Spotlight on Austin, Texas Construction
As the nation’s most highly invested city, business is booming in Austin, Texas. Taking the #1 spot from Greater Los Angeles for the most preferred U.S. market, per CBRE’s 2021 investor survey, scores of companies are re-relocating to the Lone Star State’s Capital.
Fortune 500 tech companies like Facebook, Tesla, Apple, Dell, IBM, and Samsung are turning Austin into the new Silicon Valley, renamed “Silicon Hills” in reference to Austin’s spot in Texas Hill Country.
Folks are also attracted to the laid-back lifestyle, universities, music and tech festivals, and conferences like South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits.
Luring companies with its pro-business/lack of red tape philosophy, CommercialEdge reported in May that Austin is currently leading the country in new office developments, representing 7% of the nation’s office construction total pipeline with 10.3 million sq.-ft. of office space under construction. And this is for a city with less than 1 million people per the 2020 U.S. Census.
In addition to current construction projects even more companies are eyeing the city, including those from the industrial, manufacturing, e-commerce, and food sectors.
To help design and construct these projects, AEC firms like Summit Design + Build are opening up shop in Austin.
Austin Housing Crunch
While the growth is exciting, it’s not without its challenges. In addition to placing a strain on the city’s infrastructure, the city is practically out of office space and there’s a housing shortage.
“Companies want to be here, but getting their labor force here is difficult. Real estate prices have increased tremendously and we can’t build fast enough,” states Amber Autumn, Director of Business Development, Summit Design + Build, Austin. “Condos can sell out in a matter of hours.”
To help spur residential development, the city has set up an interesting business model where development companies coming in qualify for certain tax breaks, but they are also required to build multi-family housing projects.
Summit is about to break ground on two new construction condominium projects – 4315 S. Congress and 1619 South 1st St.
4315 S. Congress, Congress Lofts at St. Elmo, is strategically located in one of Austin’s fastest growing neighborhoods. Joining developer Intracorp USA and architects Pappageorge Haymes and Urban Foundry, Summit is building 148 warehouse style residential lofts with an art-filled lobby, library lounge, courtyard, pool, and outdoor kitchen. The building will also feature 3,800 square feet of office space.
The 4-story multi-family, mixed use 1619 South 1st St. will offer 35 residential units, ground floor retail, a pool and gym, designed by Sixthriver and developed by Chameleon Companies.
Autumn explains that generally speaking, condos pose a more complicated business model, complex delivery methodology, and more liability. Consequently, many contractors shy away from these undertakings, but not Summit Design + Build.
“Building condo buildings are for the brave, strong, and highly skilled, as they add additional risk, and require more attention to details. With an abundance of happy clients, we know our formula works,” remarks Autumn.
That said, material shortages, supply chain bottlenecks, and skilled labor shortages impacting every industry and every locale are affecting Austin as well.
“It’s important to have a team dedicated to advance procurement, and the ability to make value engineering pivots,” advises Autumn. “With so many materials not available, design assist and design build are the only delivery methods that work right now.”
Major Austin Construction Projects
Despite these hurdles, major construction activity is ongoing. Trammel Crow recently completed the 36-story Indeed Tower downtown and the 814,081 square-foot Google Tower is set to become the metro’s tallest office skyscraper.
The University of Texas Austin recently opened its new Gensler-designed 15,000+ seat Moody Center, a multi-purpose arena for the men’s and women’s UT basketball teams, concerts and events.
Under construction, Sixth and Guadalupe will be the first mixed-use high-rise in Austin with more than a million square feet of office, residential, retail, and outdoor space inside one building. The 66-story high rise will contain 589,112 square feet of Class A office space and 349 residences.
Another mega-development, East Village, is a 425-acre, $1 billion mixed-use property developing 810,000 square feet of office space, three hotels, 466 single-family homes, 2,000 multifamily units, a 1.5-acre park, and around 400,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space.
In addition, Uptown ATX is a 66-acre area with 7 million square feet of office, multifamily, retail and hotel, and a new Metro Rail Station under development.
No Sign of Slowing Down
As all types of growth continue in the Texas State Capitol, it will be important for companies and developers to select the right partners to help them develop their offices, multi-family residential, industrial projects, and more. Working with experienced designers and contractors with familiarity with the area will be one of the best ways to accomplish this.