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Austin: Details of Long Awaited Redevelopment of the Old Motorola Campus Emerge

Feature Illustration: A slice of  the Tech 3443 development, as it might look after Phase 3. Courtesy: Panache Development & Construction.

Posted 11-20-2020

by Art Benavidez

Austin (Travis County) — Details regarding the massive redevelopment of the long-awaited old Motorola campus have emerged and it promises to change the city’s eastern skyline.

Earlier this week, VBX reported that the City Council had rezoned 109.65 acres of a property that was to be known as Austin Viie to a planned development area (PDA). 

However, the name of the project is now Tech 3443 and once it is fully developed could cost over $1 billion, according to President of Panache Development & Construction Adam Zarafshani.

Panache Development & Construction is the general contractor for the development. Austin based GSC Architects are also involved in the project.

Zarafshani also clarified that the city had approved all zoning requests, which called for the project to build up to 120 feet high in most areas of the campus and up to 400 feet high in sections fronting U.S. Highway 183 despite the Austin Planning Commission recommendation not to do so.

“The approval of the PDA has created multiple projects on campus,” Zarafshani said. “Tech 3443 will be the first development in Austin to receive a 400-feet tall approval outside the CBD (central business district). This expansive campus will also notably feature green energy throughout. Panache Development & Construction has maintained its role on campus and will continue to lead construction (on) campus.”

VBX also stated that Austin Business Journal had reported that the site went to bankruptcy auction in September.

“The development of the project never really stopped,” Zarafshani said. “The entire process surrounding the bankruptcy auction happened because of the financial difficulties of one partner involved in the project and that is under litigation, however they are no longer a part of the project.”

Zarafshani said the bankruptcy auction allowed him to find new partners for the campus development.

RIC Austin Inc., an entity of the Canadian mortgage firm Rompsen, bought the campus for $45 million as a result of the bankruptcy auction and they are now partnering with Zarafshani to develop the campus.

As a result, 3443 Zen Garden LP, who are led by Canadian developer Dan White, and were the company listed by the city on the PDA rezoning application request are no longer involved in the project.

“I am thrilled to be partners and working with RIC (Austin) on the TECH 3443 development,” Zarafshani said. “They have been instrumental in moving this project forward, and they have my full support. RIC (Austin) brings a wealth of development experience from across the continent that will make TECH 3443 even more exciting. Our vision for the project remains clear and we will continue to work together to bring it to life. This new partnership gives us the ability to bring in health and sciences companies, and to explore new industrial projects that are being developed for the campus.” 

A group of contractors who had been working on the project: Austin Glass & Mirror Inc., ACM Services LLC, Koetter Fire Protection of Austin LLC, Capital Industries LLC, Hill Country Electric Supply LP, Glass.com of Illinois, Summer Legacy LLC, Texas Air Industries LLC, Ferguson Enterprises LLC and ABC Supply Co., Inc. sent a letter of support for the new owner to City Council ahead of the PDA approval last week.  

Austin Business Journal reported that the contractors, minus Zarafshani’s company, had a separate adversarial suit that was recently settled for $3 million, which is to be divided among them.

Zarafshani said that Phase 1 of the redevelopment–buildings F, H and J of the old Motorola campus–are completed and total 340,000 square feet; this was done at a cost of $375 million.

Zarafshani said he didn’t have a definitive start date for the other projects in the development. 

“We are currently revamping our (two other) phase plans,” he said, “The PDA approval changes the makeup of the site. Our subcontractor team has been wonderfully supportive and we look forward to great progress.”

Tentative Phase II plans consist of building five new office towers along U.S. Highway 183 at a proposed 2,950,00 square feet. Phase III plans include buildings for civil use, a market, urban farming, a music venue and a 25,000 square feet non-profit community civic center that will be entrusted to the community to manage.

RIC (Austin) Inc. President Richard Wedlon told the Austin Business Journal that an assertive construction timeline of the site would be five years, with a conservative estimate at 10 years.

VBX Project ID: 2020-7F25


art@virtualbx.com

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By |2020-11-20T15:55:44-06:00November 20th, 2020|Construction Preview, Feature Story|

About the Author:

Art Benavidez (Construction News Reporter, Central Texas) is a seasoned journalist with over 15-years of experience in writing breaking news and in-depth features at the local level. He honed his research and reporting skills in newspapers and magazines throughout South and West Texas along with expertise in crafting digital content as Managing Editor of New Image Marketing Research Corporation. Benevidez is a Texas native and graduate of UT-RGV.

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