Google Coming to Downtown Austin

Google AustinGoogle is opening shop in a Downtown Austin historical building. This is great news for Downtown Austin in many ways, not the least of which is the positive buzz created by Google’s move. Google brings with it a certain degree of “brand” buzz that will surely attract even more tech companies to downtown Austin.

There are many great quotes and comments from the article below, but one of my favorites is this:
High-tech recruiters said Austin is a natural fit for Google, which has nearly doubled its work force every year for the past four years and now has about 12,200 employees worldwide. In addition to the specific technical skills that match Google’s personnel needs, Austin’s youthful, freewheeling attitude that encourages risk-taking makes it a good cultural fit, said Kim Butler of Greywolf Consulting Services Inc.

Austin continues to attract new and existing companies. This is one of the important factors when considering which direction our real estate market will head in the long term. Welcome Google!

Full article from today’s Austin Statesman below.

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Thursday, January 24, 2008

Google is headed to downtown Austin.

The Internet search leader has leased the second floor of the historical Scarbrough Building for an engineering center, said Office Leasing Advisors Inc., the Austin firm that represented Google Inc. in the deal.

Google will occupy 25,000 square feet of the art-deco-style building at Sixth Street and Congress Avenue, Office Leasing said.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Google did not respond to inquiries about the Austin office.

In recent months, Google has posted Internet job listings for an engineering director in Austin to head up a group of 100 or more engineers. It also has posted listings seeking software engineers in Austin. The Scarbrough office could hold 125 to 150 people, according to real estate brokers.

The entrance of a high-profile, national tech player like Google is a coup for Austin’s technology industry, tech recruiters and executives said.

“Google is another marquee name in the technology world that we can say we have in Central Texas, and in addition to getting the Google name, we’ll probably get some good-paying jobs with it,” said David Porter, senior vice president of development for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

The Google news follows announcements by other California-based firms to relocate or expand in Austin, including PayPal Inc., an eBay-owned online payment system that is locating a data services center in Austin that could have up to 300 workers by next year. Also, Borland Software Corp., a personal computer software company, is moving its headquarters to Austin from Cupertino, Calif., and expects to have 150 to 200 employees in Austin this year.

High-tech recruiters said Austin is a natural fit for Google, which has nearly doubled its work force every year for the past four years and now has about 12,200 employees worldwide.

In addition to the specific technical skills that match Google’s personnel needs, Austin’s youthful, freewheeling attitude that encourages risk-taking makes it a good cultural fit, said Kim Butler of Greywolf Consulting Services Inc.

Google, which has become a high-powered recruiter on college campuses and has opened a number of research and development centers near university communities, stresses that it looks for ability more than experience when it hires.

“It’s a tremendous match for the city,” Butler said. “They’re looking for innovation, and that’s what Austin brings to the table.”

In turn, Google will accelerate growth in Austin, he added, saying, “It’s like if you’re trying to start a fire, you can twirl the stick in the pit and wait for friction or you can get one of those Duraflame logs and light it up with a match. That’s the kind of impact that a Google can have on a city like Austin.”

Google’s choice of ZIP code is also a boost for downtown, which is undergoing major changes, from the new shops and restaurants in the Second Street retail district to a residential building boom that is adding hundreds of apartments and condominiums. Tech companies expanding downtown include Silicon Laboratories Inc., the chip design company that has 430 employees at its headquarters on West Cesar Chavez Street and is negotiating to buy a neighboring six-story building.

“Downtown has always been home to state government and accountants and attorneys, and now we’re becoming a destination for tech companies,” said Molly Alexander, associate director of the Downtown Austin Alliance, which represents downtown business and property owners. “They’re looking for unique and unusual spaces that are reflective of their culture.”

When a player like Google lands downtown, Alexander said, “it raises the profile for others to say, ‘If we want to go to Austin, we need to go downtown.’ ”

lhawkins@statesman.com; 912-5955

Scarbrough Building history

• The Scarbrough Building was Austin’s first skyscraper and marked the beginning of Austin’s downtown business district.

• It was built for Emerson Monroe Scarbrough, a successful merchant.

• It was designed in the Chicago style by Fort Worth architects Sanguinet and Staats and opened in 1910.

• Bets were taken on whether it, the city’s first steel and concrete structure, would stand or fall.

• Art deco elements were added in 1930.

• The second story, which will be home to Google, housed the Scarbroughs department store for years until its closing in 1983.

Sources: Austin History Center, American-Statesman archives

Posted by Steve
8 years ago
Steve

Steve is a Real Estate Blogger, Husband and Dad, UT Austin Grad, Runner, Real Estate Broker and owner of Crossland Team and Crossland Real Estate in Austin TX.

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Christine - 8 years ago

Hi Steve,

I’m looking to move to Austin, TX permanently around a year from now or earlier (no earlier than Fall 08) and need to start researching for potential homes. I’m very young and unexperienced as this will be my first home purchase ever. My husband and I have not gone through any steps at all and would like your advice on an area to purchase in. We want a good neighborhood with great appreciation potential, good schools, and newer homes (preferably 1990 or newer). Do you have any suggestions? We would be interested in renting a room out of our home (possibly).. but, if not, will definitely remain living in the home as our permanent residence.

I read in your past blog conversations that you mentioned it isn’t a good idea to purchase around new commercial construction. Why would that not be a good idea? I assumed that if you purchase a home around a growing area (new library, park, school, hospital, etc.) that it would boost the value of your home? Initially, I thought about purchasing in an area that had construction plans in the future.. but that changed after reading that particular comment. Please explain a confused college student why that is not a good idea?

Any other advice or insight you provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time!

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Steve - 8 years ago

Hi Chrisina,

> Do you have any suggestions?

Hi Christina, I’ll email you offline with more info.

> I assumed that if you purchase a home around a growing area (new library, park, school, hospital, etc.) that it would boost the value of your home?

In a nut shell, you have more unpredictable variable in a freshly minted, growing area. You don’t know exactly how it will turn out, you can’t judge the traffic, etc. Also, as people in Hutto learned the hard way, they ended up with water bills that were triple the norm because of an inexperienced city council and the water deal they signed. Those type of surprises are less likely in established area.

Also, as will be revealed when I get my 2006/2007 stats done, the first areas to suffer in even a mild slowdown are the newer areas further out, so from an investment standpoint, I like to remain as cloase in as is affordable.

Steve

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This must be a recession; even Google is hurting « Monozygotic - 8 years ago

[…] any of this. They’ve hired a couple people I know right out of the University of Texas, and they’re moving their offices to a downtown location. That won’t save them any […]

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