Google gobbles up more space in new downtown Austin high-rise

Posted August 16th, 2017

Google is growing its downtown Austin footprint, even before its first employees set foot in the company’s new space in the sleek new office tower called 500 West 2nd.

The new space ultimately will house more than 450 Google employees, working on products and teams across Android, G Suite, Google Play, human resources, finance, engineering and marketing operations. Google’s new space will consolidate employees from other locations, including North Mopac Boulevard (Loop 1) and University Park just north of downtown.

In 2015, Google confirmed that it had signed a lease for more than 200,000 square feet of space in 500 West 2nd, a 29-story tower set for a grand opening on Thursday. The California-based search engine giant, one of the world’s largest companies, will be the marquee tenant in the Gensler-designed building.

Google will be occupying about 300,000 square feet of space in the building, or 50 percent more than its initial lease, Gensler said in a news release. Google will occupy the top 10 floors, Gensler said.

Google is not revealing the exact time of its move, a publicist said. The company declined to comment.

Other tenants at 500 West 2nd include business services firm Deloitte, real estate firm CBRE and the law firm of King & Spalding.

Todd Runkle, principal and managing director of the Austin office of Gensler, a global architecture, design and planning firm, said the building incorporates the latest technologies and amenities designed to draw top tech talent.

“Our goal, from the outset, was to design a building that would help attract, and then retain big-time tech companies and other global leaders,” Runkle said. “It’s thrilling to reach the grand opening knowing that compelling design was crucial to achieving that goal.”

The tower has 500,500 square feet of space, 95 percent of which is spoken for, according to CBRE, the commercial real estate firm handling the leasing. The tower was developed by Trammell Crow Company and joint venture partner Principal Real Estate Investors.

The building is part of Trammell Crow’s transformation of the former Thomas C. Green Water treatment plant into a mixed-use project that the developer estimates will add $500 million to the city’s tax rolls, putting 1.7 million square feet of new shops, offices, retail, residential, hotel and restaurant space on the ground.

Master planned by Gensler, the four-block redevelopment also includes the Northshore apartment tower and the Austin Proper Hotel and Residences currently under construction, with additional development to come.

The office tower features French limestone walls, 100-year-old teak reclaimed from barns in Bali, seven terraces with views of downtown, Lady Bird Lake and nearby parks and numerous energy efficiencies. Amenities include a 6,000-square-foot conference center and cafe area.

When the American-Statesman wrote about Google’s initial lease in 2015, Mike Rollins, president of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, said: “Google’s expansion reflects the strong innovation economy in our region, and adds to the vibrant and resilient downtown community. The new project also underscores the unique quality of life that attracts and retains high-tech talent in Austin.”

From the city’s perspective, the transformation the former Green Water site is a key part of its efforts to expand the central business district westward, where it joins a new central library and a large mixed-use project at the former Seaholm Power Plant site, among other new development.

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