According to a report released in January by JLL, a commercial real estate services company, the nationwide office vacancy rate rose to 17.1 percent by the end of 2020, the third consecutive quarterly increase. But the Austin market has been strong, “with less than 1 percent net occupancy losses in 2020,” the report said.
New projects in Austin are adding downtown skyscrapers and creating retail and residential complexes elsewhere in the city. While the pandemic hasn’t halted development, it has impacted design changes such as touchless elevators, expanded open spaces, operable windows, and improved ventilation.
Experts attribute Austin’s conflicting economic performance to a number of factors: a position as an educational hub and technology hub, a business-friendly climate, a plethora of social attractions, and the charming eccentricity that spawned the slogan “Keep Austin Weird.”
“All the things that made Austin an attractive place to be before the pandemic was still here despite the pandemic,” said Mayor Steve Adler, noting that South by Southwest returned as an online event this month and that organizers working toward his physical return in 2022.
The tide of job seekers coming to Texas has prompted an influx of foreign investment capital, said William C. Jenkins, a director of Stonelake Capital Partners, an Austin developer planning a 50-story office and residential tower in the Downtown. As migrating companies create new jobs in the Lone Star State, institutional investors are looking for “new, cutting-edge, market-leading real estate in Austin and Texas” to “write big investment checks.” main projects.