Global technology company SHI International Corp. is expanding its Austin operations, with plans to hire about 300 employees and relocate to a new mixed-used project in Southwest Austin.
It’s one of several big pieces to recently fall into place for Garza Ranch, a 34-acre tract being transformed by Brandywine Realty Trust at a cost of $300 million to $350 million over the next two to three years.
Garza Ranch will also have a new Aloft boutique hotel, a 370-unit apartment complex, 400,000 square feet of office space and a 2.2-acre park, Brandywine executives announced this week.
A map of Garza Ranch’s position in Southwest Austin, about 8 miles outside downtown.
Contractors for Brandywine Realty are performing infrastructure work on utilities and roads on the property, located off South MoPac Expressway west of the Lowe’s Home Improvement store on Brodie Lane. The infrastructure work will be complete by the end of 2018, said Brandywine spokeswoman Michele Gonzalez with Hahn Public Communications.
As one of Austin’s biggest landlords, Brandywine is busy with several major projects in the Texas capital, including Four Points Centre in Northwest Austin, where SailPoint Technologies Holdings Inc. is relocating, and an office tower at 405 Colorado Street . The company is also planning a massive redevelopment of the Broadmoor property in North Austin, the current IBM campus. That project made it through its first hurdle at Austin City Council April 12, Community Impact reported.
Garza Ranch has been years in the making. Brandywine purchased the land in 2016 from the Eli Garza family.
Big new office for SHI International
SHI International, a New Jersey-based reseller of tech software and hardware, has been expanding since it landed in Austin a decade ago. Now the firm is looking to grow by relocating its Austin division onto the 6.6-acre site it purchased from Brandywine at Garza Ranch. By the end of 2018, it will add about 300 workers to its current headcount of 1,000 employees in Austin.
Currently the firm takes up about 186,000 square feet spread across two buildings at 1301 and 1501 South MoPac Expressway, according to the company. The firm plans to move into its new four-story location by the first quarter of 2020, taking up one of two buildings at the Garza Ranch mixed-use site.
“In the past five years the number of SHI’s Austin-based employees has more than doubled and additional expansion is expected to continue,” said Ed McNamara, SHI spokesman. “That rapid expansion, while necessary to support a growing business, has caused SHI to occupy two separate buildings, which is sometimes inefficient.”
A rendering of SHI International’s future Austin office.
The company was drawn to Garza Ranch in part because it has had a relationship with Brandywine since 1995 and in part because it’s close to where employees live.About 56 percent of its employees live within 20 minutes of Garza Ranch and 87 percent live within 40 minutes of the new site, McNamara said.
“The Garza Ranch property allows us to expand and take ownership of a workplace infrastructure that is reflective of our company’s culture, while ensuring our employee’s lives are not disrupted by a significant change to their commute,” said Thai Lee, president and CEO of SHI International, in a statement. Lee, an Austin resident and the company’s co-founder, is on this year’s Forbes list of the country’s wealthiest people.
The Garza Ranch site will be a division headquarters for SHI’s division providing IT sales and support to small- and medium-sized businesses in North America. The firm has 3,700 employees globally.
The other 150,000-square-foot office building planned at Garza Ranch has not yet been purchased, Brandywine execs said. Brandywine is currently “visiting with a number of prospects” for the four-story building, Gonzalez said.
Hotel to break ground this fall
Austin-based Pathfinder Development will develop a 140-room, five-story hotel under the Aloft brand at Garza Ranch site. The boutique brand, under the Marriott family, aims to create a hip, urban experience.
The 90,000-square-foot hotel is likely Southwest Austin’s first modern boutique hotel, said Chirag Patel, managing director at Pathfinder Development.
“This part of town doesn’t really have a lot of places where people can go and have a drink, enjoy live music” other than some historical spots and a few inside of strip malls, Patel said.
A rendering of the hotel lobby at the future Aloft hotel, set to break ground this fall at Brandywine’s Garza Ranch project.
Patel doesn’t think the new hotel will compete with other Aloft locations in downtown and at The Domain, which are owned by different companies. Those other Austin locations could actually help to “build brand awareness” for the relatively new Aloft name, he added.
Construction on the Aloft in Garza Ranch will start in fall 2018 and take about 12 to 15 months to complete, Patel said. An architect and engineer has been selected, although Patel declined to provide the names of the companies. Pathfinder hasn’t yet selected a general contractor for the hotel.
Pathfinder Development has previously built two other hotels in Austin: the Holiday Inn Express at the Arboretum, completed in 2013, and the Residence Inn by the Marriot in Oak Hill, about two miles away from Garza Ranch. Patel said the Residence Inn helped Pathfinder get to know the Southwest Austin submarket.
“MoPac is a high-growth corridor for Austin," Patel there. "There is lot of people that want to live here, work here and stay here. We can meet those needs for corporate travelers and … the wedding market."
The hotel will share a 1,250-space parking garage with the office development.
Upscale Trammell Crow apartment complex
Trammell Crow Residential Co. will develop and own a 325,000-square-foot apartment complex with a “vibrant bohemian vibe” in Garza Ranch, Brandywine execs said. The interior design will be inspired by indigenous patterns and earthy elements, Brandywine said.
This will be the latest apartment complex under Trammel Crow Residential’s Alexan brand, which is tied to at least 20 locations throughout Texas. Trammell Crow Residential is a national residential real estate company that is not associated with the Texas-based developer Trammell Crow Co.
Rent prices at Alexan Garza Ranch will range from $1,200 for studios to up to about $3,000 for large two-bedroom apartments, according to Trammell Crow Residential.
Trammell Crow Residential will develop and own an apartment complex in Brandywine’s Garza Ranch.
Amenities will include an interactive rooftop lounge, a pool, a fire pit, water features, hammocks, a dog play area and dog washing station. There will be a package locker system, a business center, a fitness area and indoor/outdoor gaming space.
The first units will be ready by late spring 2019, and the project will be complete by fall 2019, according to Brandywine.
GFF Inc. — which recently opened an Austin office — is the architect for the Alexan Garza Ranch. Maple Multi-Family TX Contractor LLC is the general contractor and multiple engineering firms are involved including Stantec, Viewtech Inc, Coleman & Associates, B2 Interior Design and Big Red Dog Engineering.
Matt Enzler, managing director of Trammell Crow Residential, said in a statement that the company was attracted to the mixed-use vision of Garza Ranch.
The apartment complex will play heavily off of the nearby park Brandywine is developing called the Garza Commons. The 2.2-acre park will include pavilions and lounge areas. On the east side of the property the park will connect to the 30-mile Violet Crown Trail that runs through Garza Ranch and links to Zilker Park and the Barton Creek greenbelt and extends all the way into Hays County.
Jerry Sweeney, CEO and president of Brandywine, said in a statement that the natural setting of Garza Ranch will “enhance its desirability of the mixed-use environment.”
An overview of what’s being built at the 34-acre Garza Ranch in Southwest Austin.
The List: Austin-area commercial real estate development firms
Ranked by Austin area s.f. under development or delivered in 2017
Rank Business name Austin area s.f. under development or delivered in 2017 1 Endeavor Real Estate Group LLC 1.94 million 2 Trammell Crow Co. 1.53 million 3 HPI Real Estate Services & Investments 755,000 View This List