ATX

Zoho to Move Its American HQ to Austin

The Silicon Valley continues to shift to the Silicon Hills of Austin, TX, as another global business software company, Zoho, plans to move its HQ to Austin by 2021.  

The company has purchased a 375-acre plot of land in southeast Austin near the airport (Texas State Highway 71 near Kellam Road), and is planning to build a 100,000 SF campus on this site that houses at least 500 employees. 

According to Zoho’s founder, Sridhar Vembu, Zoho is moving its headquarters to Austin because “Austin is how San Francisco used to be 30 years ago. It had the weirdness. It had all this stuff. The artists and the live music.”  And Vembu has pledged that Zoho will help keep Austin weird by doing things a little differently. 

Here Are 5 Ways That Zoho Will Help “Keep Austin Weird”

1. Zoho is privately owned and debt free.  Without the pressure from Wall Street or outside investors, Zoho doesn’t have to worry about making certain numbers and is free to exert more independence in creating a very unique company culture.

2. Zoho doesn’t merge or acquire products from any other company; instead, it develops all of its own software.

3.  Zoho is not going to seek incentives from local or state government or ask for tax abatements on the property. 

4. Zoho is moving to a piece of farmland on the outskirts of Austin rather than renting a space in downtown Austin because it’s a money saver. In fact, it actually costs less to buy the 375-acre plot of land out by the airport than it did to buy Zoho’s other 45-acre main campus in India!

 5.  Zoho plans to start an in-house education program called Zoho University that works closely with local schools to teach students skills and to educate its own employees to advance their positions within the company.  This program, Zoho University, is an alternative to a traditional college education and has been remarkably successful in India. At the school, Zoho pays students to learn how to create and use Zoho software. It hires many of its graduates. In fact, 15 percent of Zoho’s engineering workforce is made up of graduates from Zoho University.

"We create our own talent with Zoho University," said Vembu. And the company is able to acquire talent from a pool of people that end up with a clear understanding of the way things work, and, a respect for the culture that Zoho has created."  Zoho hopes to work closely with local high schools and Austin Community College to develop the American version of this program.

A strong value for independence, a unique culture, and a tech firm (and potential university!) landing out on a piece of farmland near the airport. Welcome to Austin, Zoho; it sounds like you’re a perfect fit here.

Zoho is 23 years old and has grown to 45 million users worldwide across 180 countries.  Bringing the HQ to southeast Austin area should increase property values in the area and create yet another tech “hub,” but this time in the south of Austin!  Are you looking to purchase a home in this area?  Do it now and watch your property values increase as Zoho continues to expand its Austin influence! 

As Austin Develops, Should We Protect All 35 of Austin's Capitol View Corridors?

What is a “Capitol View Corridor” and why are these corridors so important to building development in Austin, Texas?  Ever since the Texas State Capitol was created back in 1888, there has been a city initiative to protect and preserve the views of the Capitol from various viewpoints around the city.  Capitol View Corridors are a series of legal restrictions on construction in Austin aimed at preserving the visibility of the Texas State Capitol. This is a common practice in many state capitols, and most strictly enforced in our nation’s capitol, Washington D.C..

 In 1931, the city of Austin decided that no building within a particular zoning ordinance would exceed 200 ft.  This rule would maintain views to the capitol building and emphasize it as one of Austin’s most important structures. 

Over the years, however, the city flexed from time to time, allowing exceptions to this 200 ft rule as long as the buildings maintained a certain setback or stair-step effect that still allowed capitol views.  If you look at some of our main corridors along Congress Avenue or Lamar, you will notice some of these unusually shaped buildings that had to make adjustments to maintain a clear capitol view.  In response to the historical bending and flexing of the city rules, a state statue was passed in 1983 that established an official “Capitol View Corridor” in Austin, TX.  All buildings built within this corridor would now undeniably have to follow state regulations.

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If we count all the views protected by both the city and the state, there are 35 Capitol view corridors today. Some are just a few city blocks while others, are extremely long, like the corridor that goes out to the 360 bridge.

map courtesy of ftp.austintexas.gov

map courtesy of ftp.austintexas.gov

Today, as development is at a premium in downtown Austin, there has been much discussion if all 35 viewpoints of this capitol corridor still need to be protected today. What is your opinion? Do you think it is important that the city & state maintain a Capitol View Corridor? Should the Texas State Capitol remain the centerpiece of Austin’s skyline? As development pressure increases, time will only tell how many “exceptions” or “revisions” will be made to these state statutes in the future. But for now, enjoy those views of the dome and the goddess of liberty that you see from over this beautiful city.

What is to Become of the Austin American Statesman Site?

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For many years, the 19-acre Austin American Statesman site has occupied a coveted spot just South of downtown, overlooking Lady Bird Lake.

 With the advent of the digital age, the Statesman has been downsizing its staff size over recent years and outsourcing some of its printing operations. This recent downsizing, along with the sale of the property in 2016 to a different family member within the Cox family of companies, has many people speculating what development will come next on one of the most coveted lakeside spots in Austin.

Due to its prime location, many developers in the city feel that the Statesman site is one of the most important keys to unlocking a successful “South Central Waterfront” initiative, which is a plan to “guide redevelopment along Lady Bird Lake’s south shore that includes a unified street grid, more open spaces, enhanced connections to the hike-and-bike trail and other public uses,” according to the city of Austin website.

 With a zoning change from the city, the Statesman site could accommodate as much as 3 million square feet of development, some experts estimate. The property is valued on the county’s appraisal rolls at $48.5 million.

 Some of the mixed-used proposals for the 19-acre site have included offices, homes, shops, a smaller Statesman building, and perhaps even a hotel— about 2.1 million square feet of development in all.   This plan would completely change the look of  the southern shore of Lady Bird Lake, and would allow continued expansion of downtown just across the water.   A large portion of downtown is composed of government or church owned buildings, so to have such a large swath of land potentially open up for private development is incredibly exciting to city officials and the Endeavor Real Estate group, who has recently been named as master developer for the Statesman site.  Endeavor is the same group that developed the Domain in North Austin.

However, with such a prime piece of land comes lots of opinions about what kind of project should get built there.  Most of the property is outside of the Capitol View Corridor, which places a restriction on building heights in the downtown area in order to maintain multiple views of the Texas Capitol Building, but since it is located lakeside, there is an initiative to keep the development as “green” as possible.

A rendering of the potential development to take place in future years on the south shore of Lady Bird Lake, across from downtown.

A rendering of the potential development to take place in future years on the south shore of Lady Bird Lake, across from downtown.

To learn more about the South Central Waterfront initiative, which includes 118-acres in all (32 private properties) and is directly across the lake from downtown, please click the button below:

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New Train Station Coming to Downtown ATX

This past Monday, thanks to a $50 million grant by TXDOT, Capital Metro broke ground last Monday on a brand new Downtown Austin train station on Fourth Street between Neches and Red River Streets.  This new station will have a much bigger platform than the previous one, allowing several more trains to travel to downtown at the same time.

Upon completion (projected spring of 2021), the new rail station will expand to two platforms and three tracks instead of its current one platform and one track. Capital Metro hopes to grow its ridership substantially by 2039, aiming for half of all Austin commuters to use some form of public transit.  With a city population that looks to grow by about 2 million people in the same time frame, strengthening our public transit system now is smart growth. 

The builder of the new Downtown train station is Jay-Reese, who is also known for other Austin builds such as the Second Street Bridge near Austin Central Library, the Pfluger pedestrian bridge over Lady Bird Lake and the hike-and-bike trail boardwalk off East Riverside Drive.

Austin's Changing Skyline--Downtown Development in ATX

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Austin continues to boom. Business Insider says Austin had the second highest rate of job growth among the 40 largest metro areas in America, with employment rising 3.7 percent between February 2017 and February 2018. The most visible representation of our rapid economic development is our ever changing downtown skyline. Just think about this: of the 8 tallest buildings in downtown Austin today, not a single one of them existed 10 years ago!

According to the Austin Downtown Alliance, downtown will grow by 50 percent if it only completes projects currently under construction and those proposed for redevelopment. However, downtown Austin has the potential to double in size if it reaches its full build out potential in the next 5 years.

Below is just a glimpse of the developments that are shaping or will continue to shape the Austin skyline…

  1. 6th X Guadalupe St—when completed this will be the tallest building in Austin. 837 feet high & 66 stories of apartments and offices stacked atop each other. An acre of parks in the sky are in the plans for this skyscraper.

  2. The Independent— luxury high rise condominiums and currently Austin's tallest building, taking the title away from The Austonian, which laid claim to the tallest building in Austin for about eight years.

  3. The Republic at 401 W Fourth St, just south of Republic Square Park, will have 711,401 square feet of office and 21,463 square feet of retail.

  4. 70 Rainey—a 34-story skyscraper with 164 condos that tower over Rainey Street.

  5. 48 East Ave—a 33-story, 215 condo tower also located in the Rainey Street Historic District.

  6. Waller Park Place—more than 3 million square feet of residential, commercial and office space at Red River and East Cesar Chavez streets. This will be a big property—roughly the size of six Frost Bank Towers!

  7. Block 71—Indeed Inc. will lease the top 10 floors of this office tower under construction at the intersection of Sixth Street and Colorado Avenue.

  8. 5th & West—154 luxury condos that stand 37-stories tall.

  9. The Austin Proper Hotel—a 32-story luxury hotel and residential combo.

  10. Third + Shoal — an office tower near The Independent, the new library and Google’s tower — with tenants such as Facebook and Bank of America.

  11. 300 Colorado Office— at Colorado and Third Street will be redeveloped into a 32-story office tower with about 390,000 square feet of space.  Fourteen of the building’s 32 floors will be dedicated to parking. 

  12. ZaZa Tower—This 24-story tower on West Fourth Street near Lavaca Street will offer more than 200 apartments and more than 150 rooms at Hotel ZaZa. Retail stores will line the bottom of the building.

  13. Genesis Real Estate plans to build a 50-story apartment tower in the Rainey Street area on the site of the vacant Villas on Town Lake condos.

  14. Block 185— Google has leased the entire building. set to start construction in 2019. This building will take on a sail-like shape due to its proximity to Lady Bird Lake and Shoal Creek.

  15. 93 Red River—347 Units; 40 stories of Multifamily, Office & Retail including five levels of underground parking and seven levels of above ground parking.

  16. 405 Colorado—a 197,056 SF building with 12 stories of parking with 12 levels of office space on top.

How do you feel about Austin’s dynamic skyline and economic boom? Like it our not, our city is currently one of the most rapidly changing metro areas in the country, so we need to be prepared to flex and change with it, especially in the real estate sector.