Downtown Austin Pushes its Boundaries
One of the biggest stories in Texas is the densification of Downtown Austin. And it’s only going to get bigger. Literally.
Panelists at Bisnow’s event on the submarket yesterday think “Downtown” will refer to a much larger area in five years. In 2020, Downtown might include South and River, east of 35 and north through the medical center, say Avison Young managing director Mike Kennedy and Riverside Resources partner John Needham. (Business will boom for cartographers.) All five panelists at our event (Cushman & Wakefield/Oxford Commercial SVP Jeff Coddington, John, Mike Kennedy, Parkway Properties managing director Mike Fransen and Manchester Financial president Doug Manchester) think the medical center will have a massive impact, adding economic depth, new conventions, and more industrial demand besides the obvious hospital and research activity.
Mike Kennedy (here with his son Patrick—son Burke was also at the event) particularly envisions a creative office movement to the Waller Creek area. Tech companies are searching nationwide, but we’ve got the right vibes to grab that activity, and Mike thinks they’ll move southeast from the Downtown core in search of room to build properties with large footprints. (Multifamily has been stealing their sites closer in.) Mike says the submarket will also grow within pre-existing boundaries because we haven’t even touched our potential density. Downtown has 28M SF of built space, and under current zoning, we could add 37M SF more.
Mike Fransen (snapped with Downtown Alliance’s Charlie Betts) says it costs about $12/SF to take a traditional office space to a box that creative office will consider. He takes cues from places like WeWork and has a holistic approach with his buildings that considers what’s around the building and the amenities within it. He especially spends lots of time on the retail portion of his buildings because people are starting to view offices almost like their living room, and the coffee shop or restaurant is an extension of it. (He suspects as many deals are closed in Houndstooth as in the rest of Frost Tower.)
Austin is becoming a big city, and Jeff says we need to act like it by voting and paying for water and infrastructure improvements. We snapped our esteemed moderator with Urbanspace’s Allison Messenger.
Here’s our sponsor Cadence McShane’s Don Watkins, Lexy Stecker, Kevin Cummings and Alex Marco. Don and Kevin tell us they’re working on a creative office building in Downtown now and will break ground on a 350-unit multifamily project on the river early next year.
Xceligent is live with its new Commercial Search site, and its Teri Beauchamp says the provider of commercial real estate info is unrolling a whole slew of enhancements. (You’ll have to call her to get the skinny, though.)
We've got a bunch more coverage from our panelists in next week's publication!