Austin: $1 Billion 2nd Apple Inc. Campus Planned, Williamson County to Present Incentives
Feature Photo (above): Lobby entrance to the existing Apple Inc. campus in north Austin. Image: Google Streets.
Updated: 12-17-2018 with terms of the Williamson County tax incentive.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Austin (Travis County) — Apple Inc. unveiled plans Thursday for a major expansion of satellite operations in several cities across the United States, including a $1 billion new campus in Austin.
The 133-acre north Austin campus will be designed to accommodate up to 15,000 employees. It is the largest component of a nationwide $30 billion expansion that will expand Apple’s workforce by up to 20,000 employees by 2023.
The new campus will be respectful of Austin’s green programs and be in keeping with the company’s environmental goals. It will include 50 acres of preserved open space. As with other Apple facilities worldwide, work spaces will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy sources.
“Apple is proud to bring new investment, jobs and opportunity to cities across the United States and to significantly deepen our quarter-century partnership with the city and people of Austin,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said through the prepared statement.
“Talent, creativity and tomorrow’s breakthrough ideas aren’t limited by region or zip code, and, with this new expansion, we’re redoubling our commitment to cultivating the high-tech sector and workforce nationwide.”
The new campus will be located just across the Williamson and Travis county line, less than a mile from the current campus. Land ownership of the existing campus is split between Apple (area in blue) and Karlin Riata LLC (yellow). Image: Travis County Appraisal District.
The second Austin campus will be located less than a mile from company’s existing facilities. The current campus employs 6,200 people, making it the largest Apple campus outside of Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.
It is on a 68-acre site at Riata Vista Circle and West Palmer Lane–America Operations Center is a 1 million-square-foot facility that was completed June 2016, after four years of construction.
The new campus, initially, will add 5,000 employees. When built to capacity, the Apple campus will have 3 million square feet of space in multiple buildings and become the largest private employer in the city. Site preparation begins in 2019 and the first buildings are expected to be completed within 36 months, according to the Statesman.
The professional services that can be expected include engineering, research and development, operations, finance, sales and customer support.
Mayor Steve Adler described Apple as being a vital part of the city, “and we are thrilled that they are deepening their investment. We’re excited they are bringing more middle-skilled jobs to the area. And we’re particularly gratified by their commitment to providing a great place to work for a large and growing number of America’s veterans.”
The exact location of the new campus was not described. It is in City Councilman Jimmy Flannigan’s District 6. Flannigan told Community Impact Newspaper that Apple was not seeking an incentive agreement.
View of the existing Apple Inc. campus as seen from West Parmer Lane. Image: Google Streets.
Community Impact added, however, that Williamson County Commissioners Court will consider an incentive agreement at its Dec. 18 session for an Apple Inc. development on land being acquired from the Robinson Ranch. While the existing campus is just inside Travis County’s boundaries, a campus one mile north would be across the county line.
A Wall Street Journal report noted that the Williamson County agreement would be for a 65 percent tax abatement over 15 years in return for an investment of at least $400 million. Once Commissioners Court approves the local incentive agreement, Apple will be eligible to receive another $25 million from the Texas
Williamson County’s administration director, Rebecca Clemons, was quoted in Apple’s announcement, stating, “Apple’s vision on innovation, quality and simplicity align with the values here in Williamson County. We are both committed to continued job creation and outstanding quality of life. This new expansion is a perfect example of the astounding growth and opportunity that are possible when a company and community work together.”
Apple also announced plans to establish new sites in Seattle, as well as in San Diego and Culver City, California. Other cities slated for new sites over the next three years include Pittsburgh, New York and Boulder, Colorado.
Source: Apple Inc.
The Chapter 381 Agreement
The contract as presented in the Williamson County Commissioners Court agenda packet is a Chapter 381 economic development agreement titled “Williamson County and Project Capstone Inc.”
The terms require considerably less from Apple than what has been described in Apple’s public announcement. At a minimum, Apple must invest $400 million in real property, construction and personal property.
It states that Apple “intends to create up to 4,000” full-time jobs, but the obligation is to accomplish that quota over 12 years. Apple is to create 60 full-time positions by the second anniversary of the commencement of the term for a cumulative total of 1,300 jobs. After the second year, the build-up schedule is as follows:
600 additional jobs by the fourth anniversary
600 additional jobs by the sixth anniversary
600 additional jobs by the eighth anniversary
600 additional jobs by the tenth anniversary
300 additional jobs by the twelfth anniversary
Those job goals are not absolute. Apple will be considered in compliance unless the full-time job numbers “at any applicable anniversary” term fall below 70 percent of the required number.
Another default trigger involves the minimum value on construction. Apple must have constructed within the first phase a facility with an appraised value of at least $50 million by Dec. 31, 2022.
For its part, Williamson County is obliged to grant unto Apple an amount equal to 65 percent of the tax value on an annual basis for 15 years, beginning on the first full tax year after Apple creates 700 full-time jobs.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.