Materials company 3M, best known for its Post-it notes and Scotch tape, is selling its main 156-acre campus in Austin, the company has confirmed.
Company CEO Inge Thulin told 3M's Austin employees in an email last week that the Austin site "has served us well for many years, and as we assess new workspace options in the Austin, Texas area, we will explore opportunities for buyers of the current Austin site."
The company declined to reveal the list price for the property, which includes 1 million square feet of office space. The 3M land, at RM 620 and RM 2222, is home to employees who work in 3M's "electronics and energy" group, as well as its research and development facility.
It wasn't immediately clear what the move signals for 3M's Austin operations - whether it foreshadows a contracting local workforce or an investment. The company said this week that it employs 800 people in Austin.
Company spokeswoman Lori Anderson said 3M is in the "early stages of assessing our options" and will be working with "business leaders to determine their specific workspace need." She said that the 3M office is only using only a "portion" of this property.
The company first built this campus back in 1988, according to the 3M website.
The campus — which has an assessed value of more than $80 million, according to the Travis Central Appraisal District — is in an area that has seen an influx of residential and retail development in recent years.
Charles Heimsath, a longtime Austin-based real estate consultant, said he has only been to the 3M campus once, many years ago.
“I remember that it is a huge building and probably functionally challenged due to its age,” Heimsath said. “But the site is spectacular and should be very attractive as a redevelopment opportunity for a large corporate employer or developer who has the resources to purchase and re-position the buildings for the 21st century work environment.”
Another veteran local real estate expert echoed Heimsath.
“In all likelihood the highest and best use is as a corporate campus, as the zoning does not allow higher residential density,” said Mark Sprague, a housing and financial industries analyst with Independence Title in Austin. “Its location next to wildlife habitat also will have an effect on density.”
In Austin, 3M is known as the longtime title sponsor of a popular half-marathon in January that begins near the Arboretum and ends downtown, earning it the slogan "downhill to downtown" because it so much of the course is downhill.
The company's annual report says its electronics and energy group makes products that are used in TVs, cellphones and tablets, laptops, as well as in chip manufacturing and in telecommunications and renewable energy.
A recent story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune called the company's electronics and energy business "ailing," and noted that this division saw its sales fall 18 percent in the first quarter of 2016 and another 14 percent in the second quarter.
The Star-Tribune asked the CEO if there were plans to even sell this division, to which the CEO said "no way."
The company has been whittling down its Austin workforce over the last several decades. Last year the American-Statesman reported it had about 1,000 workers. An American-Statesman article from 2002 reported it had 1,400 employees in Austin.
Its peak Central Texas employment came in 2001, when 3M had 1,800 people based in Austin. The company has had a presence here since the 1980s.
This story was updated to include information from real estate experts.
News on Open Source is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of 512tech.com comes with an American-Statesman digital subscription, which also includes myStatesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe at statesman.com/subscribe.