One of the things that always seemed curious to me is how and why Capital Metro (@CapMetroATX) occupied prime square footage on a heavily trafficked part of Congress Avenue, next to Annie’s. For many years, Cap Metro occupied the first and third floor of this three-story building.
Well its lease expires this coming April, and it seems the landlord is raising the rent. As a result, Capital Metro is moving into 209 W 9th Street (southwest corner of Colorado and 9th), which is owned by Harry Whittington. There, the transit agency is signing a 5-year $3.3 million lease on 18,800 square feet. This will allow the consolidation of two call centers – one currently housed at the 323 Congress Ave.
For years, the good energy of clear windows (“fenestration” for my fellow wonks) and ambience of Annie’s seemed to kind of get sucked way by the dark, looming, uninviting storefront of Capital Metro next door.
So what’s next for 323 Congress?
The entire building is 21,900 square feet, and features open floor layouts, ample lighting and excellent visibility to Congress Ave. According to this undated flyer from Weitzman, it appears to be listed for sale “between $2.5 million and $7.3 million.” Or, it could be for lease $24-36/ft/yr by Cielo Realty Partners, as it’s shown on Loopnet.
I’ll be surprised if this languishes too long. Office vacancies downtown have recently fallen below 12%, according to this Dec. 11 Austin Tenant Advisors press release, which compares well to other major cities such as Atlanta which reports a 24% vacancy rate. Average lease rates for all classes are averaging around $30/square in the downtown area while landlords of Class A office properties are quoting $38/square foot, or higher.
This, in part, is being driven by a number of web/computing-based companies setting up shop downtown, which is about as a good of a thing as a city could ever hope would happen to its downtown office space. We can expect a higher and better use of our ground level retail, however.
FYI urban transit commuter: The transit store, where folks pick up passes, pocket maps and the lost & found, is also moving to the new location on 9th Street.