Cirrus Logic, which derives the majority of its sales from supplying Apple components, is making a big play for downtown Austin and is in the news for purchasing a half block west of its new headquarters.
However, its plans for the real estate are less than crystal clear. The Austin American-Statesman, at least, is terming it a “campus”.
As we know, Cirrus Logic planted a flag downtown when it built a new headquarters building at Sixth and West Avenue in 2011.
Soon after, news broke that the company had purchased a quarter block caddy corner to the headquarters, on the northeast corner of the Seventh Street and West Ave intersection, which it planned to use as prototyping and manufacturing space. (However, this plan is now on ice, but more on that later.)
That bring us to modern day, with the Austin American-Statesman reporting the company purchased the north portion of the 600 Rio Grande block, which used to house a Yoga Vida studio and former Aquarelle restaurant (at 606 Rio Grande).
Cirrus said in a statement that “no decision has been made regarding the ultimate use of the property” and that “owning this property provides us with an option for future growth in the area.”
Curiously, the American-Statesman story mentions nothing about the manufacturing facility a block over.
Is that part of the deal dead? Seems so, for now.
Back in January, the Austin Business Journal reported the manufacturing facility plan was on ice because “the small retail center isn’t zoned for Cirrus’ needs, and it has spent the past year-and-a-half muddling through the permitting process.”
The plans called for a 79,023-square-foot building, but it is now on hold until “Cirrus executives can nail down an exact use,” the ABJ says.
There also appears to be some simmering tension with the Original Austin Neighborhood Association (OANA) and city regarding the scope of Cirrus’ ambitions.
At last night’s Downtown Commission meeting, the company and attorney Richard Suttle requested support for new zoning to allow it to transform its surface parking lot – adjacent to the north of the headquarters building – into an 8-story structure that would include a parking garage with office space on the top and bottom floors.
After a drawn out discussion, including input from the neighborhood, the Downtown Commission did not support Cirrus’ upzoning request (from GO to DMU-90), but did not vote to oppose it either. The commission wanted more information before endorsing what amounts to a large structured parking garage on Shoal Creek.
Whatever the case, Cirrus seems to be setting itself up as a long-term downtown stakeholder and is quite healthy at present, as Forbes magazine put the company in No. 8 for best performing small public companies. Net-net, downtown Austin has gained a lot from Cirrus’ presence, and it’s refreshing to see an Austin tech firm investing so heavily in the urban core. They are setting an example for other Austin firms figuring out how to build a company around Gen X, Gen Y, and Millennial employees who desire to work and live with a better connection to the city.