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UPDATED: Council Delays Vote On New $67M Austin Energy Office

Updated: Thursday, June 12 2014, 12:42 PM CDT
UPDATE: The Austin City Council has postponed a vote for the new building until June 26.

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EARLIER STORY:

Austin Energy could spend $67 million on a new office space on the east side.

The dollar amount has real estate experts questioning the purchase.

The plan calls for a building 180,000 square foot building with a garage on E Riverside Dr. and Grove Blvd.

The new building would cost $58,920, 372, design services is an extra $9 million.

That's about $375 a square foot.

It would be paid for through utility rates. Right now Austin Energy is considering an average $1.69 a month hike every month.

Commercial broker Dani Tristian says there is not enough supply for the demand downtown, but on the southeast side that's not the case.

"There is a lot of supply and not enough demand, the price ranges are from $80 a square foot to $125," said Tristian.

He knows of three office buildings that could house Austin Energy's needs.

"You can buy an existing building for a fraction of the price," said Tristian.

But the utility company wants to build its own to reduce overcrowding, reliance on leased space, and its carbon footprint.

"We looked at 27 different buildings. Our recommendation was to build our own building," said spokesperson Carlos Cordova, "the building next door we have spent $20 million in leases and the public has nothing to show for it. The majority of our call center employees live east to the highway and it will cut down on their travel time."

But when KEYE-TV asked about the high cost Cordova justified it saying it's a green space.

"We have to walk the talk ourselves," said Cordova.

Council member Laura Morrison has more tough questions.

"Number one we have to understand is this a nice to have or a half to have. Because we have absolutely been trying to keep our electric rates down as one of the pieces of affordability in this town," said Morrison.

Next Thursday it will be up to council to vote on whether the multi-million dollar project moves forward or not.

If passed the building could be completed by 2017.

By Christie PostUPDATED: Council Delays Vote On New $67M Austin Energy Office


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