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Canadian pension fund investment grows in Texas with Austin’s Symphony Square

John Bleasby
Canadian pension fund investment grows in Texas with Austin’s Symphony Square
IVANHOE CAMBRIDGE — In partnership with Greystar Real Estate Partners, Ivanhoe Cambridge is building 1121 at Symphony Square in downtown Austin, Texas. The project includes 15,000 square metres of Class A office space and 500 square metres of restaurant and retail on the ground floor. Tenants will be able to link to The Waller residential tower next door.

Ivanhoe Cambridge, a global real estate subsidiary of public pension fund manager Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, has interests in more than 1,000 buildings in the residential, office, retail, industrial and logistics sectors around the world.

The investment firm has recently broken ground on a seven-storey commercial office building in Texas, a key element in the new Symphony Square mixed-use project in downtown Austin. Occupancy is expected in the spring of 2023.

In partnership with Greystar Real Estate Partners, the building will include 15,000 square metres of Class A office space and 500 square metres of restaurant and retail on the ground floor. The Symphony Square project also includes The Waller, a 32-storey residential tower already under construction.

Located in the heart of the burgeoning Austin Innovation District and across the street from the landmark Waterloo Park and Moody Amphitheater, Ivanhoé Cambridge says the building known as 1121 at Symphony Square will embrace the concept of “live, work and play.”

“Created with today’s workforce in mind, 1121 at Symphony Square will foster creativity by offering flexible work environments and unique open-air spaces that accommodate solo or collaborative work, and even lab spaces,” the company said.

Tenants will be able to link to The Waller residential tower next door via a fifth-floor bridge, giving them access to an exclusive 6,000-square-foot roof deck and a two-storey fitness center equipped with turf lawn, a lap pool, locker rooms and yoga room. The Waller also offers private balconies for residential tenants on floors one to four, and end-of-trip facilities that include bike storage.

“Ivanhoe Cambridge is happy to bring its vision of the creative office of the future to life in Austin with 1121 at Symphony Square,” said Jonathan Pearce, executive vice-president of leasing and development. “Amenities such as the terrace, fitness center, and pool deck will offer a unique indoor-outdoor experience that promotes wellness. Our future customers will undoubtedly benefit from a vibrant and creative working environment that fosters a sense of community and collaboration, as well as drives productivity and connects them to Austin’s rich culture.” 

The project, designed by R2L: Architects based in Washington, DC., is intended to achieve LEED Gold certification. Austin firms Page and TBG Partners are responsible for the building’s interior design and landscape architecture respectively.

Ivanhoe Cambridge’s attraction to Austin is not surprising given the optimistic demographic and economic surveys recently released.

According to a report from Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., the state government and University of Texas provide a solid foundation for Austin, even during economic downturns.

“While the publicity of the large employers moving into the city is important, the state government and the university continue to serve as a sustained employment base for now and the future.”

Austin’s continued growth in public sector and university employment underpins demand for quality rental residential developments among the city’s young population. One study says 30 per cent of Austin’s population is in the prime rental age group of 25 to 34 years.  

Greystar’s director of development, Matt Stevenson, says the Symphony Square joint venture with Ivanhoe Cambridge matches the lifestyle needs of this prime demographic with prospective employers. “1121 at Symphony Square presents a remarkable opportunity for a tenant looking to attract and inspire top talent.”

In the meantime, Ivanhoe Cambridge has other commercial partnerships underway in Texas, indicating the company’s continued confidence in the state’s prospects.

In a joint venture with Hines Interests Limited Partnership, the company opened a 47-storey, one-million-square-foot Class AA office tower in downtown Houston late last year, called Texas Tower. Privately-held Hines has developed or otherwise acquired properties comprising over 485 million square feet. It currently manages 622 properties totalling 256 million square feet.

Similar to Symphony Square, Texas Tower is forward-thinking in its overall design and tenant amenities.

“Texas Tower features a grand, activated and hospitality-centric lobby, flexible workspaces and innovative common-area designs,” Ivanhoe Cambridge said in its release. “Designed by Pelli Clarke & Partners, the building is built to the highest standards that Hines and Ivanhoe Cambridge have ever developed in Houston, including LEED Platinum, WiredScore and WELL Building Standards.”

In June 2021, Ivanhoe Cambridge also entered a joint venture with Los Angeles-based Mount Auburn Multifamily. Together, the two companies hope to expand their exposure to the Austin residential market, targeting projects with 200 apartment units or more.


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