Austin Community College is preparing to bring a new public-private partnership to ACC Highland, formerly known as Highland Mall.
The ACC Board of Trustees authorized the college to move forward with negotiating a multi-party agreement that will renovate the former Dillard’s women’s space and lease it to Rackspace® Hosting (NYSE: RAX), managed cloud specialists. The partnership is expected to bring paid internships for ACC students, enhancement of tech training, and other education benefits, while allowing Rackspace to set up its offices in an invigorated part of Austin and to benefit from proximity to the college.
Austin commercial real estate developer Live Oak-Gottesman will renovate the four-story, 194,000-square-foot Dillard’s space, funded by a portion of Rackspace’s lease payment. Live Oak-Gottesman is affiliated with RedLeaf Properties, the firm that will redevelop the Highland parking lots into mixed-use property.
“Highland represents the future of higher education, and partnerships like this are a very important component of that—creating new opportunities for students and ensuring a pipeline of skilled workers for the region,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president/CEO. “Rackspace is one of the area’s top employers and has a strong commitment to education. Live Oak-Gottesman has a three-decade track record of successful development in Central Texas. We look forward to seeing this partnership come to fruition.”
After acquiring Highland Mall, ACC identified the former Dillard’s anchor store as the last section that would likely be developed for college use. The college sought a partner organization to use the facility in the interim and issued a request for proposals from developers in spring 2014. A committee composed of ACC representatives and outside experts reviewed the responses and selected Live Oak-Gottesman, which submitted a shovel-ready project with a proposed tenant, Rackspace, that aligns with ACC’s mission.
Live Oak-Gottesman proposes to finance the renovation of the Dillard’s women’s space. The building will remain owned by the college, and Rackspace will lease it. A portion of the lease revenue will be used to pay Live Oak-Gottesman for the redevelopment financing cost, with the remainder going to ACC.
“This partnership will bring even more energy to the area and accelerate the transformation taking place at Highland,” says Rob Golding, CEO of Live Oak-Gottesman. “This is a win for the college, its students, Rackspace, and the entire community.”
Rackspace plans to relocate 570 employees to Highland and expand in the future. The proposed timeline calls for Rackspace to open at Highland in late 2015.
In accordance with state law governing public-private partnerships, ACC will publish Live Oak-Gottesman’s proposal on the college website and hold public hearings on the proposal. Once the proposed contract with Live Oak-Gottesman is negotiated, it also will be published on the college’s web site, and a public hearing will be held on the terms of the proposed contract. More information will be shared as it becomes available.
The college’s first phase of development at Highland, including ACCelerator (the nation’s largest learning lab), opens this fall. For more information about Highland Campus, visit austincc.edu/highland.
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