University of Texas System to build $102 million headquarters downtown

Feb 28, 2014
Austin American Statesman

The University of Texas System plans to construct a $102 million headquarters in downtown Austin that would accommodate about 550 employees currently scattered among five buildings, officials told the Statesman on Thursday


The plan essentially mirrors one that was shelved in December 2012 when state lawmakers questioned it on the eve of a tight-budget legislative session. This time, UT System officials say, they have briefed legislative leaders and their staff members more thoroughly and have not encountered objections


Under the plan, the system would lease or raze the five downtown buildings it currently occupies and construct a 15-story headquarters on the north side of West Seventh Street between Colorado and Lavaca streets. System employees, who oversee and assist nine academic and six health campuses, would occupy 200,000 of the building’s 258,000 square feet, with the remainder leased for offices and retail shops


Studies show that consolidating into one building would save more than $125 million during the next 30 years, said Scott Kelley, the system’s executive vice chancellor for business affairs


Two of the five existing buildings — the Colorado and Lavaca buildings — would be razed to accommodate the new headquarters, which would include several floors of parking, one of them below ground. The Colorado building was originally constructed in 1936 as the home of the American-Statesman


The nearby O. Henry Hall on Colorado, between Sixth and Seventh streets, is historic and must be preserved, Kelley said. It would be leased, perhaps for law offices


Claudia Taylor Johnson Hall, named for Lady Bird Johnson, the late wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson, would likely be redeveloped but in a way that would preserve its exterior out of respect for its namesake, Kelley said. Ashbel Smith Hall, where the Board of Regents currently meets, could be leased to a tenant or to a developer that might want to rebuild on the site


The system plans to begin construction on the new building late this year and occupy it in late 2016 or early 2017


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