Round Rock nets more new development at Austin’s expense

Article provided by: The Austin Business Journal

La Frontera, a mixed-use project in Round Rock north of State Highway 45 and west of I-35, is gaining some serious commercial development traction.

Emerson Process Management was one of the first corporations to take a big leap of faith on the suburban submarket area in 2012 when it moved its Austin campus away from the Arboretum area to La Frontera. The company also built an Innovation Center that opened in 2014.

Now it appears that the company — a business unit of St. Louis-based Emerson Electric Co. (NYSE: EMR) — has even more plans on the horizon.

Emerson just purchased 5.4 adjacent acres of land for future expansion from W2 Real Estate Partners, one of La Frontera's larger landowners. The purchase price was not disclosed.

W2 Partners is a rebranded entity previously known as Simmons Vedder Partners. The company has plans to build Frontera Ridge, two five-story buildings west of Emerson Process Management's campus. STG Design is the architect and Harvey Cleary Builders has been chosen as the general contractor.

A site development permit was recently obtained from the city of Round Rock for the development of 400,000 square feet of office space, but construction won't start until certain pre-leasing percentages are achieved.

Brett Arabie and Mark Greiner of Cushman & Wakefield/Oxford Commercial are handling the listing.

Emerson isn't the only company opting out of Austin and moving to Round Rock.

Publishing company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is departing The Domain to move its 270 employees into a 98,000-square-foot office building named "La Frontera Plaza." Nearly completed, the project is being built by Live Oak-Gottesman, a longtime Austin development company.

Another addition to La Frontera is South University, a private for-profit college, which built a 42,000-square-foot campus on four acres. The college relocated from Austin in early 2015.

The Marriott Austin North Hotel & Conference Center has been drawing crowds for several years and now more hotel properties are cropping up following Marriott's lead.

Home2 Suites by Hilton recently completed 91 rooms. A 140-room Hyatt Place Hotel is under construction.

W2 Partners Executive Vice President Steve Freche said that many companies and individuals want options beyond The Domain — North Austin's most dominant mixed-use project for the past five years.

"Aside from the very upscale and somewhat exclusive Domain project, companies have very few options in the Austin area to be part of an established live-work-play environment," Freche said in a statement. "From a day-to-day perspective, most employees working at these projects are less interested in Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. and more interested in convenience, culture and value."

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Author: Monte Davis

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