Dirt-turners to watch: 10 Austin construction projects you should know

, including the 500 West 2nd office tower where Google Inc. will consolidate much of its local workforce, and the new Central Public Library nearby in the Seaholm district. The Fairmont Austin hotel is nearly complete near the Austin Convention Center. Those projects have been in the works for the past two to three years, and as they come online there are others under construction and many more on the drawing board.

Shoal Creek Walk, an office tower at 835 W. Sixth St., is expected to deliver more than 200,000 square feet of office space by the end of the year. Much of that will be occupied by Cirrus Logic, which is headquartered across the street.

Third+Shoal, a 345,000-square-foot office tower at 601 W. Third St., is projected to be finished next summer — but no word yet who will move into that project with a creative vibe.

70 Rainey, the luxury condo tower in the Rainey Street Historic District just southeast of downtown proper, is also underway, adding another intriguing element to Austin’s rapidly changing skyline.

The hybrid Hotel ZaZa and Gables Republic Square building also is several floors up, as is the Fifth&West condo tower near Shoal Creek Walk.

Nothing may impact the downtown silhouette more than The Independent, the Jenga-styled condo tower, that is under construction. It will be the tallest building in town when completed next year or early 2019 — but it may not hold the “tallest” title for long.

Earlier this month, The Lynd Co. of San Antonio and Lincoln Property Co.unveiled plans for more than 60 stories of shops, apartments and offices at 600 Guadalupe St. where an Extended Stay America hotel sits now.

Soon we should also know more about Lincoln Property Co.’sdevelopment plans for the parking lot property it leased from Travis County at Third and Guadalupe streets, as well as Trammell Crow’s plans for redevelopment of property it leased from the University of Texas at Sixth and Lavaca streets.

Those have been the headline-grabbing projects of late, but I picked 10 other projects randomly that I noticed on casual drives through the city. Some are very big and others rather inconspicuous, but they all deserve to be noticed.

Of course the new Oracle Corp. campus on the south shore of Lady Bird Lake is huge and represents a massive investment, but its location off Pleasant Valley Drive in a forested locale largely escapes the public eye. Another huge expensive project is the Texas 2 Data Center located on Burleson Road in Southeast Austin — not a common area for cruising around.

The other projects I highlighted are spread across an array of product types, and that kind of mash-up seems like a good thing.

Also, since this story is about construction, the project and asset management team at CBRE Group Inc. provided some statistical information about the construction industry locally. Given the unprecedented pace of construction since the 2008 recession, CBRE’s data reflects Austin’s growth.

For instance, in 2006 there were 30,410 workers in the construction industry. In 2016, there were 40,400 employed, about a 33 percent increase over the course of a decade. Average wages among construction labor have increased by about 27 percent.

Given that housing costs alone have posted double digit annual gains for several years, construction wages — like many other industry wages — aren’t keeping up with the escalating costs of living in Austin.

Dodge Data & Analytics, a New York based research and analytics firm, reports a 28 percent increase in non-residential construction in Austin year to date compared to the same time frame in 2016. The non-residential category includes commercial construction, industrial projects, government, education and recreation. The total value of non-residential construction for 2017 thus far is $1,735,532,000.

In June alone, non-residential construction was up 41 percent over June 2016 to $467,651,000.

Residential construction activity has softened during the past year, however — down 4 percent year to date, and down 19 percent for the month of June. That may be a cause for concern, given the need for more housing in general to accommodate large increases in population.

Source: Austin Business Journal
Jan Buchholz, Senior Staff Writer

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