DECEMBER 5, 2017
Episode 4 – Building a Community
Michael Hsu from Hsu Office of Architecture and Ryan Steglich from Steglich Consulting
This week, Matt McDonnell sat down with Michael Hsu, Principal at Hsu Office of Architecture, and Ryan Steglich, Principal of Steglich Consulting, to share their excitement about Springdale General and The Center for Social Innovation.
The Center for Social Innovation grew out of a need to sustain and grow the arts, small business and nonprofit communities in East Austin. Similar to how the Canopy development has helped keep Austin artists from being pushed out of their creative community, the Center for Social Innovation will bring individuals back into the heart of the city through affordable office and event space, as well as community and programming. When you embark on a project of this magnitude it is critical that you develop a team who shares the vision, but can also add their expertise to the mix.
Read the Transcript
Matt McDonnell (00:00):
All right. Well, welcome to this week’s episode of Change the Rules podcast. I’m Matt McDonnell, managing partner at Notley. And today we have some great guests with us. We have Michael Hsu from Michael Hsu Office of Architecture and Ryan Steglich principal at Ryan Steglich Consulting, as well as one of our partners in Springdale General for both of these gentlemen, and we’re going to chat about creating a space that encourages and fosters community. One of our current projects Springdale General was really designed to do just that. And so I’m gonna- we’ll have…. You guys can introduce yourselves here. So we’ll start with with Ryan Steglich and just tell us a little bit more about your background and what your role in the Springdale General Center for Social Innovation project is.
Ryan Steglich (00:42):
Yeah. Hi there. My name’s Ryan Steglich and I’m a partner in Springdale General and a collaborator with our lead developer Central Austin management. I’ve done work with Darrell Kooning’s group for years and had a really passion for, you know, building community. And this was an opportunity when this land came available to really do something special like that. So working early on, on the strategic vision of the project and then getting to collaborate with fantastic people like Michael and his team- and Matt- continuing to develop and build the community.
Matt McDonnell (01:20):
And Michael we’d love to hear a little bit more about your role, but also can you tell us what Springdale General is and, you know, sort of how you came up with the original concept from a design perspective?
Michael Hsu (01:30):
Yeah, I’d be really happy to. This project probably wouldn’t exist in its current form if it wasn’t for its… Older sibling, which is Canopy Art Studio Complex, which a lot of your listeners may know as the arts complex on Springdale just down the road from it and the East Austin Studio Tour just happened. And this really came out of a need very similar to Canopy of creative people losing space, losing the ability to be around each other, which I think is as important as the space itself. So this was an effort to try and carve out a little chunk of Austin and save it for that community.
Matt McDonnell (02:08):
And so one of the, you know, sort of impetuses, as I understand it, for building Springdale General, was that Canopy was a huge success, right? It actually did a really nice job of serving that community and there was a lot of pent up demand. And when you and Daryl and and Ryan were thinking about what that next project is… you knew that there was a long tail of folks that were waiting to get into Canopy. Is that roughly about right?
Ryan Steglich (02:37):
Yeah, that we- we had been so happy with the success and the community that got built there. And, you know, when the land first came available, we really went out into the community, starting at Canopy and then walking block to block within- to the community, talking to businesses and saying, you know, “What’s working well, and what’s not working well.” And what we heard was people had leases for retail, they had leases for warehouse, and they had leases for office. So they had three leases. And they said, I’d love to combine that under one roof. But if I do that, the only thing I can afford is outside 183 and my creative community is here in East Austin. So it was really trying to build a container for that.
Matt McDonnell (03:22):
And, and how so- I mean, you know, that’s sort of been a core theme of this project, right? That we’re attempting to engage the community to the extent possible. That was our first activity when we became involved in the project- was let’s go listen to the neighbors. But I’m curious, you know, as you’ve seen Canopy evolve, right. How is it, how would you describe that community as situated in East Austin? Right? Is it, is it serving people that just live nearby? Is it sort of a hub for city-wide activity? I’m curious how that community has evolved over the last little bit.
Michael Hsu (03:56):
I think it’s a very- to me- it’s a very localized community. I think it’s about people knowing each other, wanting to work together and sharing this sort of collaborative spirit that when you put artists together the idea is that the art improves everyone who participates but it certainly has a much wider appeal. If you’re at the East Side Studio Tour this last weekend, you would see thousands of people all over the side of town. The love and desire of Austinites to participate with the creative community definitely shows itself during those times of year. A lot of the people who work in the development live really close by. I really think of [East] Austin as, you know, the creative side of town now because it’s where more opportunities happen for, for these types of things.
Matt McDonnell (04:48):
Yeah. And, you know, I think one thing that’s probably important to explain here is how does an organization like Notley, who is really interested in creating ecosystems for social impact and social change- how did, how does Notley and our focus on nonprofit tenants as well as social impact entrepreneurs, how does that fit into the Springdale General vision and the project as a whole?
Ryan Steglich (05:13):
I think the excitement of finding a partner like Notley- it’s really a collaboration of creativity and innovation, and you hear that no matter what sort of industry you’re in, and it’s an ethos that fits in the artistic community and also in the nonprofit community. So I think that innovation and creativity play really well together. You know, campus is a term we use to describe this development. And I think that’s a good metaphor. When you think about a university campus where you may have the school of engineering and the art school and the philosophy school, like you want those people rubbing elbows, because that’s where really interesting things. So I think it’s a special opportunity that we have an anchor tenant like yourself who’s bringing a certain vision to it, and then also connecting it across- through our other tenants.
Matt McDonnell (06:10):
Yeah. It’s, you know, it’s interesting that you bring up the campus idea. When we first started looking for a home for this vision, you know, before we met you guys, that was the name of the folder in our shared drive was campus. We were looking at different projects. And one of the things that we always had in the back of our mind is how do you create an environment that’s effectively “liberal arts graduate school”, right? So not- you don’t have to go pay tuition, right? But how do you learn the things that people that are interested in, in causing social or systemic change need to have in their toolkit, right? Whether it’s real estate finance, you know, knowledge of navigating government. And so it’s interesting to just kind of hear that idea of a campus. Cause I think that’s, you know…. from our perspective, we felt very much like this was a perfect relationship and finding people that shared a vision to help people that were being priced out of of downtown Austin. But, you know, we just had a slightly different constituency, but the big pieces were the same. And so Ryan has mentioned innovation and creativity and Michael, I’m just curious how, what is innovative or creative about this campus and the design of the campus?
Michael Hsu (07:16):
Yeah. Our hope was really that in order to keep this project affordable, we knew that the buildings couldn’t do all the work. We knew that we were relying on the tenants, the creative people that were going to be here to finish the project out. So that’s in a way how we design and the last part of that finish out that will be by the users here will be in the communal spaces. So there’s a lot of shared spaces here that we’re hoping people will really take on as their own and make busy and activate and use those gathering spaces, the outdoor courtyard, the big Plaza that exists at building one up front; that’ll have some food and beverage associated with it. And all the sort of exterior courtyards and hallways that were designed in a way to have people intersect with each other, as opposed to partitioning off businesses and individuals. It was about trying to really amplify and funnel activity to certain areas. And we hope that at the end, people will tell us that the best part of being here is, is stepping outside their own front door. Like it, isn’t their individual space. It’s going to be the space that’s outside of their own offices.
Matt McDonnell (08:30):
And Ryan, what do you, I mean, I totally agree, Michael. I think it’s really interesting, you know, that was one of the things that was most appealing to us is you can almost see how people would have these serendipitous interactions, right? You can’t help, but, you know, in Ryan’s terms, rub elbows, right? You can’t help but bump into, you know, an artist that’s doing something or, you know, we’ve got a bunch of other tenants that… I’m just, I think when people ask me what I’m excited about for the project, that’s kind of what say is that the unknown’s, the relationships and the emergent properties of putting these diverse groups of people together. I think there’s going to be some really interesting projects that net out of it.
Ryan Steglich (09:06):
Yeah. My hope is people will intentionally park far away from where their office is. Cause they’re going to have three amazing conversations on the way, or look in the window. You know, Michael’s team did a great job bringing in neighborhood form and character and feeling so you can have those interactions. There’s a lot more windows and Michael can do a better job of describing this, but a lot more windows and interaction where it feels like a vibrant urban streetscape rather than, you know, just simple commercial construction.
Matt McDonnell (09:39):
Yeah. How, how did- how on earth did you make it feel like a vibrant streetscape and still keep costs low? Right. Because affordability was always the goal of this project.
Michael Hsu (09:49):
Definitely. So it really- they worked hand in hand. We at first drew small- a smaller project where billings were a little bit further apart and we very quickly discovered we could make it more affordable by making it a larger project, meaning more square footage and actually putting people a little bit closer together. So I think the two things worked in conjunction with each other, the ultimate sort of storyboard we have for the project is we’ve seen neighborhoods and districts that combine uses like this, but rarely do we see it in one cohesive project. So it was really almost like taking a city block in an older city and folding it upon itself and recreating it in a streetscape that hopefully Springdale General will be. And, and I think it goes to also the sort of learnings we’ve had in the last few years of the discussion in the design community. And I think, especially with workplace design is… You know, it’s really not fair to talk just about pure workspace design or pure hospitality design. I think the way we think about these things that they’re just life spaces. They’re the places where you want to just spend your time where work is sort of an extension of your own value system, as opposed to a place that you just go to surrender your labor and then go home at the end of the day. That’s our aspiration for the project.
Matt McDonnell (11:08):
Yeah. We, we talk a lot about work-life integration as opposed to balance, right. And I think that that was one of the other things that was appealing on this project is you have every, you know, you can show up in the morning, you can get your morning coffee, right? You can go do your job. You can have guests come and visit you and take meetings in your own office. And then, you know, maybe in the evenings there’s, you know, an event or something else going on, or you can go to that- You know, I know we have some interesting tenants there that, you know, if you’re inclined towards Sky Candy and the sort of aerial work that they do, you know, you even have fitness options on campus. So what is, I mean, what are you guys most excited about? What’s the thing that you’re like, “Oh, this is just right around the corner and we just can’t wait to see it.”
Ryan Steglich (11:48):
I’m just excited to see it come to life. And those interactions,-I don’t know what it’s going to produce, but those creative and interesting interactions, I’m really excited to see that. I’m also excited, you know, Michael had talked about- there’s a local community that it will support, but it’s going to draw and create opportunities for all of Austin. And I’m excited to see what turns out from that. And I I’ve just, you know, seen tenants like Cafe Medici- it’s just such a great fit because they can have- talking about mixed use. They can have their coffee roasting element, but also a retail space that serves the community and keeps everyone caffeinated, which is incredibly important. And so that’s the type of thing where it serves their business extremely well, but also serves the community because at the end of the day, it’s a community center.
Michael Hsu (12:47):
Yeah. And I think that- on that topic of community- I’m excited about what’s going to happen to Springdale and this neighborhood, because I think you can’t have a discussion about community without having a discussion about development; about, you know, really tough topics like affordability, gentrification, transportation. And to me, this is pointing towards the types of solutions that Austin should see more and more of in the future, which is dedicating space like this, so that we can build in at the front end, a pricing structure and a job base for a local clientele and a local population; that works for more Austinites as opposed to fewer Austinites. And to me what’s really interesting about this street. Springdale is- it has become sort of the Lamar the East side. It is going to be that amazing creative north-south connector. You see it from GasPedal way up North way past this all the way down to the South with other projects happening. And this is, this was not because of a planning process put forward by the city or by any professionals. It was purely organic. And it was purely because of sort of an entrepreneurial spirit that came from Austin. And that’s the sort of creative energy I really love about this street and what it may become in the future.
Matt McDonnell (14:10):
Yeah. You know, you use the G word- gentrification. Right? And I think that a lot of the concern that we’ve heard about development generally, not specifically related to Springdale General on the East side, is that, you know, it, it sort of creates an unaffordable environment, or it’s not sort of an inherently homegrown sort of project. And it feels like the Springdale corridor is really developing in a very different way. Right. It’s folks like ourselves that live and work in the city as opposed to, you know, a BlackRock or some sort of large private equity real estate firm just coming in from outside. So what are- I mean, how do you see this project really fitting into that East Austin and Springdale arts corridor community? Like, what’s the role going to be for Springdale General and Center for Social Innovation on that corridor?
Michael Hsu (14:59):
I think it’s going to be a huge note, and I think it’s going to have a of long long-term story and be a part of this, because the way it’s conceived and the values of the people behind it, I’m hoping it isn’t just something that, you know, “feels good, is good” and then changes and morphs into something else entirely in the future. I think it feels super appropriate now, and I’m so glad it’s happening now because I think the window of opportunity for projects like this is going to close up, just because of the things I talked about, which is this is an organically grown street still. And it hasn’t really been identified by a lot of people to be necessarily like a super high dense use corridor yet. So that will come. I think you’ve seen it in a lot of cities when the cool creative stuff happens, what comes next is, you know, higher price sort of things. So I think that’s a real lesson for us to watch out for here.
Matt McDonnell (15:53):
Yeah, absolutely. And so when you guys think about this project, right… So let’s imagine we’re 20 years down the line. What, how do you define success? How do you look at this project and say, “you know, we did what we set out to do.”
Ryan Steglich (16:06):
You know, for me, and I, I think a lot of the partners… What excited me about this was, you know, creating a home- we are creating a container for Austin’s creative class to fill. And success for me is not only creating a community on its own, but one that has open hands and creates opportunities for the surrounding community and for all of Austin and the region. To me, that’s, that’s the layers you want to see for a successful community.
Matt McDonnell (16:37):
And how about you, Michael?
Michael Hsu (16:39):
I hope to see a lot of the businesses that are going to be here and spring from here, move on to new things, other things, larger things, smaller things. And you know, I’m so excited about Notley being here. I mean, to me, that was… When you told me about it first, I was like, I can’t believe this doesn’t exist. How can this not exist in Austin, a city that prides itself on its community engagement and its love for nonprofits. So it may be one day that, you know, the growth that the project has to watch out for is the growth of a larger nonprofit community that centered around this project.
Matt McDonnell (17:17):
Yeah. I mean, it’s funny, right? We talk about this all the time internally that, you know, I could spend the rest of my life doing a nonprofit low rent rate development and I will not solve this problem. And so I think one of the things for us that we think about all the time is, you know, especially when we think about those success criteria is: 1) to truly serve this community, we can’t just do that through tenancy, right? It really does need to be- we talk about it as a marble in a sheet or a center of gravity for the social impact, the nonprofit, the creative class to all of come together and have that home. But I think the other thing that we think a lot about is how do we teach other people to do these things? I think we feel a tremendous sense of urgency. Like you guys have mentioned that we’ve got five or 10 years before these opportunities are gone in East Austin. Maybe even less; it depends on how pessimistic I’m being at the time, but I think we’re also interested in sharing this information. Here’s how we did this. Here’s what went well, maybe we want to do something like this in other cities. I think you see all the time that you’ve got places like Capital Factory downtown, right. That they really are that center of gravity for the entrepreneurial ecosystem and these communities that we’re trying to serve, I think, traditionally haven’t had that, but I have to imagine that there’s a need in other cities. And I also have to imagine that there’s this programming need as well. So one of the things we’re really excited about is really making good on delivering on the educational programming. And so, you know, we really think of this project as something that we’re going to leverage for way, way more impact than just affordable office space for a few tenants. And so, you know, I guess in terms of the project as a whole we’ve learned a lot, right? You know, if you think back, I mean, I’ve been working on this for about two and a half years. I think you guys have been on it for a little longer, but what are some of the lessons that you’ve learned that you would really want to share for other people thinking about doing something like this?
Ryan Steglich (19:18):
One of the questions we had at the Rad Office Tour recently was, “Hey, walk me through the financials. Like, what do I need to know? How do we create affordable spaces?” And I… at home, that went through my mind over and over again. And I said, you know, the first question is who do you want to serve? And I think that strips away so much of what really the need is and helps you make decisions about what can I leave out of this development? I think the other thing is, you know, land cost is a huge piece of the equation and we had the opportunity to use an agent named Glen Coleman to help us rezone it and create some of the warehousing opportunities and capabilities of the land. I think that’s an opportunity too; in that process, you have to sit down with the local community, the contact teams, the planning commissions… It’s a process. And having all those stakeholders at the table creates a better outcome. So I think it’s an opportunity to engage and also an opportunity when you’re trying to do something different in the community, a process to make that available.
Matt McDonnell (20:29):
So how did you answer that question about the financing and making it affordable?
Ryan Steglich (20:34):
I sort of spun and then tried to turn it over to Michael , but there were some building things that we did that I feel like were pretty innovative.
Michael Hsu (20:45):
Yeah. We try to use off the shelf billing systems. We try to be very pragmatic and I think that’s the part of being a designer: it’s a little bit more difficult sometimes is giving up control of the creative process to understanding and just recognizing what the marketplace will give you for a certain amount amount of money. So it doesn’t…. The trick was, well, let’s use these normal billing systems because we know how much they cost. We know a lot of people can build them. We know we can create a space that is going to be functional. And let’s find the interest in other places. So little touches of wood, a custom color on the outside. So it’s not an off the shelf palette of colors that you’d see on another metal building system. We try to put in a lot of windows: they’re calculated down to the square foot, like how, how many square feet of windows can we afford to keep it at this rental rate? So even that was talked about, and the details I can tell you that the discussion team had was, well, you know, how much water can we afford to use here? How much water do we want to use? What’s an appropriate amount of water here? Do we really need to over green this and make this sort of pretty picture, that would be an expectation of another corporate sort of office campus. And instead let’s put that money towards photovoltaics systems. Let’s put it towards water collection. Let’s put it towards some other things: Car2Go, communal showers so that people don’t have to build showers for their individual offices. And again, trying to have people cross paths and sharing; having some shared things. You know the campus is great because, well I just had such a great time in college. Not that that should be duplicated again, but I hope a little bit of that spirit sort of comes back through that excitement of getting to know people, you know, because you’re in close quarters with each other.
Matt McDonnell (22:33):
Ryan Steglich (22:35):
Affordability happens beyond just rent. So two great things about how this is laid out is one, “Okay. I want to create an event.” Well, there’s 700 other people who are influencers in town. 15 minutes, I can walk the whole community with a flyer and have a grand opening party for whatever I’m trying to launch. Right? So creating sales. The other thing you think about, you know, a place like Medici, a place like- there’s going to be a PR studio… “Oh, I need some photos for my new product that’s coming out.” Or I meet someone at Medicia…. “Hey, how about we do a little trade?” Barter’s a big way- it’s how artists get a lot of things done. It’s another way to sort of save. And then you think about affordability for people who live there. If you work, live and play in a community without a car that’s $5,000 to $8,000 saved each year. So I think that’s another way we’re trying to fit into the fabric of that community and allow people to have more affordability on their own.
Matt McDonnell (23:41):
And you know, you guys you mentioned transportation, both of you. Can you just give us a quick run through of the transportation options to get to Springdale General and the Center for Social Innovation?
Ryan Steglich (23:52):
Yeah. So the Govalle bus route, which is a 300-it’s a high frequency bus line runs right along there. And that connects both downtown, goes all the way up to the Arboretum and all the way South end to the St. Elmo district. So there’s a lot of transit options. Car2Go is going to be a piece of it. I’m a biker, I love biking. So we’ve made sure there’s lots of bike options in there too. And having those communal showers where you can drop your bike off, go take a shower, get your morning cup of coffee and walk the rest of the property to your office. So looking for options… Transit options is a big piece of this making this successful.
Matt McDonnell (24:33):
Yeah. I mean, Springdale General or Springdale Road, excuse me, is also a very good road in terms of biking. In terms of connectivity to the bike path and other corridors. So we’ve always appreciated that as well.
Michael Hsu (24:43):
Yeah. And part of that was also to program the uses of the center to where you could get a little lunch there. You could get a little bit of food, like you don’t necessarily have to get into a car or use transportation to go someplace else. Cause Springdale is still a little bit… I would… it’s a little undeveloped when it comes to sort of food options still- it’s still a very mixed use strip.
Matt McDonnell (25:06):
Yeah. It’s funny. Whenever I meet potential tenants, we have found that we’re drawing a lot of potential tenants from the neighborhood from, from very close by… Even situations where AIDS services of Austin identified that location and then found out about our project because it was so close to the constituents that they wanted to serve and to the person, they all talk about how excited they are to have food options in that neighborhood and close to home. I think one of the other things to mention to you on affordability for the Center for Social Innovation is we went out and we talked to all these nonprofit tenants and potential tenants at the time. And the way that commercial real estate tends to happen is that you get a tenant improvement allowance, which typically doesn’t cover all of your TI costs, although on this project, I think that you folks have done a very nice job making that TI allowance something that could actually deliver you a workable space. But even, so we have found with our tenants that there’s not a single nonprofit that I’m aware of that’s just sitting around on a half a million dollars to build out their space. And so I think one of the other affordability things that we chose to do is work with the general contractor on the project as a whole and deliver a lot of spec spaces throughout the site so that all you have to do is move furniture in and turn on your data connection. And then I’d love to hear a little bit more about the op ex, right, because you know, when you look at your triple net rates and, and Ryan, maybe you can explain to folks with triple net is… When you when you look at our triple net rates, they’re estimated to be a great deal lower than other- not only other projects, similarly situated, but certainly relative downtown. So I’d love to just hear a little bit more about the thinking that went behind the design to achieve those.
Ryan Steglich (26:50):
Yeah. So rent’s usually quoted in a per square foot charge. And for this project, we’re looking at $18 to $22 a square foot, in market rate is about $25 to $35 from what I’ve heard recently. And then triple nets are property taxes, utilities and common area maintenance. And so that gets passed through to the tenants also on a per square foot charge. So we’re going to end up somewhere below $5 a square foot starting out and those will change. You know I think one of the things Michael talked about- the ability to make it feel like an urban neighborhood- that spreads out some of those costs. So it’s really a collaboration among the tenants sharing the space that can make those costs much, much lower in that respect too. And the more tenants can create the environment that helps each other. And the less that the property manager has to do to create a great space, also controls costs. And then the design to creating a very…You know, Marfa was a word that came up- Michael brought up in design… That kind of Spartan aesthetic and very simple feel that’s low maintenance has been a piece that helps us.
Matt McDonnell (28:16):
We also try to think about the lifespan of anyone who may be a tenant here that you may not need that much square footage, or maybe you think you will, but you want to sublet to some friends… We felt like that was all an available option here; that the project can kind of grow and shrink with its users. And part of it is because development, I think …especially, like the first time I tried to run an office space… It’s kind of a black box to someone like myself who just is interested in being an architect and not so much in the real estate business. So I think the team tried to make it simple and understandable: include build out, include spec spaces, which means it’s built out ready to go, allowing people to rent spaces together and sublet, and sort of create the kind of environment that, you know, they think they need, but they’re not sure. And so you’re not necessarily locked into sort of the structure you may see in another place.
Matt McDonnell (29:11):
Yeah. I think that flexibility is- has really struck me from the get go. And, you know, I think the other thing that I’ve noticed about affordability is really what you just mentioned, Michael- that lifecycle management. So you can be one person with a hot desk in the Center for Social Innovation Coworking Space in Building One, or you can have 10,000 square feet of dedicated space for your organization. And I think the flexibility to be in, you know, on either end of that spectrum or a number of places in between has always been really interesting for us that you can actually see how an organization might grow up through the same property and maybe they move next door or they knocked down a wall over time, but they’re not, you know, sort of picking up and moving to another part of town because hopefully they’re part of that community. And so we’re- you know, I want to give everybody a chance to just add any any parting thoughts, but before we do that any tenants that you guys are particularly excited about that you’d like to share?
Michael Hsu (30:09):
Ah, let’s see. You know, it was interesting. I read the sort of business mission for a tele I dojo and as someone whose family works in the arts community and kids are very involved, I was super excited to see that; that it was reaching out to… teaching how to make art to the adult communities, but also to children and families and having access to some important and meaningful, talented artists. So this is sort of beyond the little, what I think of as, you know, neighborhood arts class. This is something that will teach people skills and things that to me are super exciting as an architect and as an entertainment option in Austin; that it felt like a great, great thing. I was so happy to see that.
Ryan Steglich (31:00):
I’m really excited about the hub of kind of the services and food area. That’s going to be on Springdale and it’s designed to be on there. So it interacts, it’s easy access it’s inviting for the community. Being able to have different restaurants, retail spaces creates that anchor neighborhood piece that serves a community and then the larger group too. So Cafe Mendici is going to be a part of it; also the Center for Social Innovation; the coworking facility is right there upstairs. So it’s just going to create a really dynamic hub of activity.
Matt McDonnell (31:35):
Yeah. And we’re, you know, I agree with both of you, and I think from the Center for Social Innovation perspective, we’re really excited about having organizations in that space that are really doing interesting and innovative things so that they can share best practices. And we have an organization College Forward that’s taking an entire building. They were just giving the the keynote at Dreamforce. They built a… they are a very… their organization is very good at generating their own earned revenue to support their operations and so they’ve built a product on top of Salesforce to help other organizations that do similar things. And so we’re really, yeah, we’re sort of excited about you know, those kinds of folks. And then we’ve also got some organizations that are maybe even less well-known, but doing interesting work. Comfort Crew helps children of military families. So when the parent, or sometimes a couple parents are deployed, they provide support services for them. Friends of the Children I think is another organization that I didn’t know until we got into the leasing. I think that’s one of the best parts about this project for me is I’ve met so many amazing people over the course of the leasing of this. You know, whether or not they become a tenant. It’s just been really interesting to meet that community and Friends of the Children is launching here in Austin. And they provide longitudinal mentorship for 12 years for students that don’t necessarily have that kind of support at home. And they hire former teachers and social workers who have a lighter caseload than they would have had had in their former job for a similar pay and, and kind of the opportunity to have a longitudinal impact on kids. So I’m really excited to kind of see how, you know, some of those sorts of organizations will also interact.
Michael Hsu (33:11):
Those sound fantastic.
Matt McDonnell (33:13):
Yeah. We’re really excited. Yeah. Ryan’s like not in his head over here. Yeah. [laughter]
Ryan Steglich (33:18):
Well, and part of the Center for Social Innovation is the event center too, which I think brings another element of programming availability beyond eight to five, eight to seven. You know, you get nights and weekends; that’s a really thriving community and I’m excited to have that space as part of it.
Matt McDonnell (33:35):
Yeah. You know, that’s a good point on the affordability note as well, too. We- one of the other, you know, aside from the typical, “Our rent just went up and we have to leave our space and we don’t really have long-term stability…” The thing that we heard from the nonprofit community was we do all sorts of convenings or gatherings or meetings that are vital for our organization or our operations, or, you know, to fund staff. And we don’t really have a place to do that. And so we actually carved out 5,000 square feet or so out of the leaseable square footage to make sure that that amenity was available for that community. And, you know, it was a little bit of a risk at the time, right. You know, are people really going to be interested in this? And we did a little bit of hand-wringing, but I think at the end of the day that the interest and the response has been wild, right. People are very, you know… Even as, you know, getting people over the hump as a tenant, that sort of makes the difference when they don’t have to go spend $10,000 to rent a space to do what they want to do somewhere else.
Michael Hsu (34:29):
Absolutely. You’re competing with every party that comes to us and that wants to hold an event. I mean, nonprofits shouldn’t have to sort of pay those kinds of fees to rent out entire ballroom… Some places are just unattainable.
Matt McDonnell (34:41):
Yeah. And we don’t want to, you know, make it available for those folks that can afford it, right? That’s not the point. It’s for people that… our tenants or also just the community at large who wouldn’t otherwise have access to that meeting space. So well, great. Well, any parting thoughts that you guys have or anything else that you feel like is really important to share with folks about Center for Social Innovation or Springdale General?
Ryan Steglich (35:03):
I think, you know, leasing has gone very well. So we, it wouldn’t surprise me if by December you know the area that we’re leasing Center for Social Innovation is leasing on their own too. We’re going to be close to coming to being full. So SpringdaleGeneral.com is a great place to see all the information about the project. And our leasing team is fantastic. So contact them and they’ll be able to fill anything in on the details.
Michael Hsu (35:32):
Yeah. And I hope this isn’t the last project like this. I think that would be a huge thing that…. What we’ve learned here and that other people who are our developers, and we embrace that community wholeheartedly along with the nonprofit community and the entrepreneurial community. And we do this again and again, and make sure that these places can exist.
Matt McDonnell (35:53):
Yeah. I think, I think Ryan hit the nail on the head earlier when we were talking about, you know, sort of what, what success might look like and really deciding who you’re trying to serve. And, and I think that was our big learning through this process is that we knew we wanted to serve nonprofits generally. But through this experience of leasing, we’ve identified some other organizations or types of organizations that have similar challenges. I think the theater community is certainly one of them. And so our wheels are also turning. We agree, and we’d love to work with you guys on, on as many of these as we can. Well, thanks everybody for coming out today. Thank you, Ryan. And thank you, Michael. If you want to learn more about the panelists or the projects involved you can find Michael’s body of work online at hsuoffice.com. That’s H S U. The Center for Social Innovation campus at Springdale General as located in East Austin. We’re at 1023 Springdale Road. And you can also find more information about Springdale General at SpringdaleGeneral.com and the Center for Social Innovation at SocialInnovationAustin.org. Like Ryan said, feel free to reach out through either of those proprerties and request a tour. We love to show people around, whether or not you want to be a tenant, or just want to know what’s going on, and be sure to check out stories of innovation around Austin on the first season for change the rules [email protected] Thanks for listening and thanks for coming.