News broke in the Austin American-Statesman earlier today that the Teacher Retirement System of Texas has closed on the sale of its longtime headquarters in downtown Austin, a property occupying two full city blocks at 1000 Red River Street near what’s been recently dubbed the city’s new Innovation District. According to today’s report, the 3.83-acre site, currently occupied by some charmingly brutalist ’70s-era concrete buildings housing the offices of the state pension fund, sold to mysterious entity Austin Real Estate Acquisitions LLC for a reported $108 million.
It was not immediately clear who controlled Austin Real Estate Acquisitions, a Delaware limited liability company. And the Statesman said it could not reach a representative for the company and that it was not clear what the new owner plans for the site.
Apparently the Statesman couldn’t get those folks on the phone to figure out who was actually running that LLC from behind the scenes, and buddy, we feel that pain — thankfully, we have a pretty good idea. The deed for the property links the LLC to California-based investors Alexandria Real Estate Equities, a major public company specializing in properties for the life sciences market.
You’ll note that a recently-posted job opening seeking a real estate development coordinator for Alexandria in the Austin market describes the company with language that summarizes the whole Innovation District thing suspiciously well:
Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. (NYSE:ARE), an S&P 500® company, is an urban office REIT uniquely focused on world-class collaborative life science and technology campuses in AAA innovation cluster locations.
Shucks, are we really an AAA innovation cluster rather than simply an AA or even a humble single A? The folks at Dell Medical School must be over the moon about this — anyway, smart money says the redevelopment of the TRS site will likely attract a tenant in the life sciences and/or biotech industry, once the agency fully vacates the site and moves to Mueller in 2024.
Remember, the property — marketed as the “Waterloo Innovation Center” by CBRE earlier this year, by the way — is entirely limited in height by Capitol View Corridors, meaning a building here won’t be allowed to rise more than a few floors, but the massive contiguous floorplates enabled by its oversized double-block tract certainly sound ideal for labs or other technical space.
And that’s not the only innovation we’re innovating around here these days — renderings recently added to the portfolio of local developer Weaver Buildings appear to show a new commercial structure rising at the headquarters of the Texas Association of School Administrators, a tract located by the corner of East 11th and Trinity Streets directly north across the street from the TRS site. We’ll have to dig a little more into that one, but one thing’s for sure — the Innovation District is a phrase we’re going to use a lot moving forward, which is why we’ve finally decided to stop putting quotes around it.