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Despite the pandemic, and uncertainty about the future of office work, new towers and other developments continue to spring up across Austin.
This year, some significant downtown projects, as well as major new projects from Tesla and Austin FC that are farther afield, will officially open. Here are eight to look out for:
1. Office tower at 300 Colorado St.
This 32-story office building at 300 Colorado St. is scheduled to be completed this quarter. Developed by Cousins Properties, the tower will be home to Austin-based oil and gas company Parsley Energy, which has leased all of its office space. It will also be home to retail tenant Del Frisco's Grille.
2. Office tower at 405 Colorado St.
(Brandywine Realty Trust)
This 25-story office building at 405 Colorado St. is also scheduled to be completed this quarter. Developed by Brandywine Realty Trust, its tenants will include the investment management and research firm AllianceBernstein. According to the developer's website, the tower boasts an above-market parking ratio, "making it one of the easiest places to park" downtown.
3. Hotel tower at 5th & Brazos
This 32-story mixed use tower at 501 Brazos St. will open this quarter. Developed by the Magellan Development Group, the building will include tenants Thompson Hotels, a luxury boutique hotel chain that is owned by Hyatt and has outposts in Nashville and Chicago, and tommie hotels, a micro-hotel company that caters to a younger market.
4. Indeed Tower on 6th Street
This 36-story office building at 200 W. Sixth St. will be completed this March, according to developer Trammell Crow. Tenants include the worldwide employment website Indeed, the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and the Austin-based title insurance company Heritage Title. The site of this forthcoming tower was formerly a post office built in 1914.
5. Austin FC Stadium at McKalla Place(Laura Figi/Austonia)
The $260 million Austin FC stadium is scheduled to open at 10414 McKalla Place in North Austin this spring, ahead of the Major League Soccer club's inaugural season. It will hold 20,500 spectators and include a 400-person capacity beer hall and multi-level team store. Austin FC's parent company and ownership group, Two Oak Ventures, privately financed the stadium.
6. Waterloo Park in Central Austin
Waterloo Greenway, an urban park system that runs 1.5 miles along Waller Creek from 15th Street to Lady Bird Lake, will soon debut its first phase project: Waterloo Park. The 11-acre park is bordered by East 15th, Red River, East 12th and Trinity streets and will open this spring.
7. Giga Texas in Southeast Travis County
🏗 Giga Texas https://t.co/0D6QV1Fcsa— Omead Afshar (@Omead Afshar)1608435261.0
The forthcoming Tesla Gigafactory in Southeast Travis County is expected to be up and running by the end of this year, with the first substantial completion, or construction milestone, scheduled for May, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce. The $1.1 billion, 2,100-acre, 7.9-million-square-foot factory will provide at least 5,000 jobs, not including the thousands of construction workers who are currently building it. Omead Afshar, project director within Tesla's office of the CEO, tweeted a photo of the factory's progress on Dec. 19.
8. The Quincy in the Rainey Street District
(Endeavor Real Estate Group)
This 29-story office and multi-family tower at 93 Red River St. will be completed in the third quarter of this year, according to developer Endeavor Real Estate Group. It will join recent high-rise additions in the Rainey Street Historical District, including the residential towers 70 Rainey and 44 East as well as a 51-story mixed-use building planned for 90-92 Rainey St.
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a record-setting second quarter during an earnings call broadcasted from the Giga Texas construction site in Southeast Travis County on Monday.
The electric carmaker reported more than $1 billion in quarterly net income and the production of more than 200,000 vehicles for the first time despite challenges such as a global semiconductor shortage.
"It … seems that public sentiment towards electric vehicles is at an inflection point, and at this point, I think, almost everyone agrees electric vehicles are the only way forward," Musk said.
Exterior shots taken just a while ago of Giga Texas (while @elonmusk is reportedly at the Gigafactory!) during today's earnings call!
Hope @peterdog15 got to catch the technoking in his video! #fastestinhistory #Tesla pic.twitter.com/WqeDlb5wU3
— Austin Tesla Club (@AustinTeslaClub) July 26, 2021
Despite rising consumer demand and adequate factory capacity, Tesla faces what Musk described as a "quite serious" global semiconductor shortage, which will determine the company's growth rate for the rest of the year.
With increased revenue and production, Tesla is investing in new factories, Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn said. These include Giga Texas, the $1.1 billion manufacturing plant that broke ground last summer and is slated to open later this year.
The Giga Texas factory in Southeast Travis County has rapidly increased in size since ground broke last August. (Tesla)
Musk commended the construction team for "incredible progress," transforming what was basically a vacant site into "a mostly complete large factory a year later."
I was at Giga Texas yesterday. Team is making excellent progress. Building will be almost a mile long when complete.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2021
Giga Texas will produce the highly anticipated Cybertruck, along with other models, but Musk said scaling its production will be difficult, especially given the supply chain delays caused by the pandemic. "It's going to move as fast as the slowest of its up to 10,000 unique parts," he said.
In other news, Musk said Monday's earnings call would likely be his last regular appearance, only jumping on future quarterly calls when big announcements warrant it.
Tesla Solar recently made news when it announced plans to build the nation's most sustainable residential community in Southeast Austin earlier this month. The newly built homes will feature Tesla solar roof tiles and Powerwall battery storage as well as electric vehicle charging stations.
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The city of Austin released a shortlist of seven candidates for the police chief position left vacant when Brian Manley retired in March.
City Manager Spencer Cronk hopes to announce an appointment by the end of August, which will require City Council approval.
The finalists, chosen from a field of 46 applicants, include:
- APD Interim Chief Joseph Chacon, who previously served as an assistant chief in the department for almost five years
- Anne Kirkpatrick, former police chief in Oakland, California, who was fired last year after a federal monitor criticized her handling of a fatal 2018 police shooting of a homeless man
- Dallas Police Department Assistant Chief Avery L. Moore, who is a 30-year veteran of the department
- Atlanta Police Department Deputy Chief Celeste Murphy, who manages the department's community services division
- Dekalb County Police Chief Mirtha V. Ramos, who previously served as division chief in the Miami-Dade Police Department
- Wichita Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsay, who is a former president of the Minnesota Police Chief's Association as well as one of the first police chiefs of a major U.S. City to call George Floyd's death a murder, as reported by the Wichita Eagle
- Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Emada E. Tingirides, who is also commanding officer of the department's newly formed Community Safety Partnership Bureau, which serves L.A.'s underserved communities
City staff will interview the finalists in the coming weeks, with several community input opportunities to come, according to a Monday press release.
The city conducted a public survey in March and hosted community input meetings in April to learn more about what residents are looking for in their next police chief, which helped shape the selection criteria for the position.
"They want to see the Chief be reform-minded and transparent and have a track record of fostering community involvement and accountability," Cronk said in the release. "The candidates selected show these characteristics in various ways."
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Days after Austin began once again recommending masks in public spaces, Austin ISD announced Monday that kindergarten through sixth-grade classes will have virtual options this fall.
The district will discuss the move in a special board meeting Monday evening starting at 5 p.m., while full details will be released Friday.
Teachers will not have to fret about the new option—no educators will have to juggle both virtual and in-person learning. Instead, certain teachers will specialize in virtual education, according to a press release.
The news comes after a recent spike in COVID cases in Travis County and across the nation. Children typically suffer fewer symptoms of COVID when contracted, but they are now catching the virus more often than their older counterparts without a vaccine available to them and as the more contagious Delta variant is quickly being spread.
While local health officials are recommending everyone wear masks, public school districts are unable to mandate masks due to an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott in May.
Parents have expressed concern about classrooms with masks unenforceable and children under the age of 12 ineligible for a vaccine. Some have even said they would look for alternative schooling if AISD did not offer a virtual option for students.
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