🏗️ Will the old Statesman building ever come down?
Rendering from the City of Austin
- 6 min read

🏗️ Will the old Statesman building ever come down?

Plus, guess which local CEO bought Coach Sarkisian's home.

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Introduction

☀️ Hey there, Austin.

Good news! We now have a full-time city manager after a search that took forever and a day: T.C. Broadnax. He'll be leaving his role as Dallas city manager later this spring.

Today, let's dive into what's going on with that big building off Town Lake, AKA the old Austin American-Statesman campus.

Then, see which local CEO bought UT coach Steve Sarkisian's house, and peep how Austin's millionaire population has grown since 2013.


What's happening with the old Statesman building?

As you drive down South Congress, it’s hard not to marvel at all the prime real estate that is seemingly “wasted” as the old Austin American-Statesman building continues to stand even after its namesake tenant moved out in 2021. 

But don't worry (or maybe do worry). Change is definitely coming. A plan to turn the area into a kind of second downtown has been brewing for years. (Check out the renderings below.) 

Here’s how we got here: 

  • In June 2016 the city adopted the South Central Waterfront Vision Framework Plan (i.e. the city's attempt to guide what kind of development will occur in that area). The plan called for an emphasis on pedestrian and public places, while enhancing connections to the waterfront and dedicating 20% of new residential units to affordable housing. 
Illustrative rendering of a future downtown and south Congress with tall buildings south of Town Lake.
Stephanie Bower for the City of Austin
  • In June 2019 the Atlanta-based Cox family – former owners of the Statesman and current owners of its former office – and Austin-based Endeavor Real Estate Group revealed their plans for the 19-acre property. The proposed mixed-use development includes six buildings, over 8 acres of dedicated parkland and plaza space, an extended Barton Springs Road with protected bike lanes and five new ADA access points to the lake trail. They're also planning for a possible future integration with a Project Connect light rail stop currently planned for the area.
  • Then in December 2022, Austin City Council made two consequential votes.
    • #1: Approving the "Statesman" PUD — The council also approved Endeavor’s plans for the lakefront property, known as the Statesman Planned Unit Development. With this approval, Endeavor is now able to build up to 725 feet in height (that's taller than the Frost Bank Tower 👀). Plus, in exchange for not being required to build any affordable housing units on the site, they will pay the city more than $23 million to be used to build affordable housing units elsewhere. 
    • #2: Creating the TIRZ — The council approved the establishment of the South Central Waterfront Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, or TIRZ. It was estimated the TIRZ fund would reach $354 million over 19 years. 
What is a TIRZ? A TIRZ is often created to spur new development in an area. How it works: Once created the property values inside the zone are essentially frozen. The city usually continues to collect taxes only on those pre-existing values. But, as the new development occurs, property values rise. Taxes raised from that new property value increase are typically set aside to be spent only inside the zone with the intention of paying for public improvements and spurring private development. Go deeper: Our sister paper has a great explainer on how TIRZ’s work here.
  • But then in April 2023, Taxpayers Against Giveaways, the Save Our Springs Alliance and three individuals filed a lawsuit against the City Council, alleging that the city’s creation of the South Central Waterfront Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone was illegal. Go Austin/Vamos Austin and People in Defense of Earth and Her Resources joined the legal effort late last month.
Rendering showing downtown and potential future tall buildings south of Town Lake.
Rendering from the City of Austin.

What's the argument against the TIRZ?

The lawsuit mainly focuses on a requirement in the Texas Tax Code that stipulates that a TIRZ should be created only when "development or redevelopment would not occur solely through private investment in the reasonably foreseeable future."

"They failed to satisfy the tax code restriction that TIRZ cannot be created unless the area wouldn't develop on its own, and, of course, there's already development going on in that area," said Bill Aleshire, one of the attorneys representing the groups bringing the case against the city.

The city, obviously, does not agree.

So what's next?

Lawyers for both sides argued their cases in a Travis County District Court hearing in late February, but as of yet Judge Jessica Mangrum hasn't made a ruling. It could be days or weeks more before we know for sure if the TIRZ has a future.

Meanwhile, Endeavor has said their redevelopment of the Statesman property will take place in three phases over a 12-15 year period.

— Cat DeLaura, Reporter


Temperature: 76 degrees | Sun: Saluting Texas | What to Expect: Great moods

🚨Gorgeous Day Alert 🚨 Cloud-busting high atmospheric pressure will lead to abundant sunshine, dry air and comfortable temperatures. This is the perfect opportunity to take that lunch break walk.

Mary’s Tip: Head over to one of the oldest operating businesses in Texas, Scholz Garten. Nothin' like some amazing food, beer and patio vibes.


This local CEO snapped up Coach Sark's old home

Coach Sark’s onetime lair has a new owner.

Public records from mid-March confirm that University of Texas at Austin head football coach Steve Sarkisian and his wife, Loreal, finally sold their Rollingwood home for an undisclosed sale price after close to a year and a half on the market. The amount likely was close to their final asking price of $5.88 million.

Coach Sarkisian in September 2023. Source: Tim Warner/Getty Images

The new owners are Shannon and Clark Buerk, who are longtime Austin-area residents. Shannon Buerk, who did not respond to a request for comment, is the founder and CEO of Austin-based engage2learn, an organization that helps provide educators with talent development and professional learning.

The Sarkisians bought the Rollingwood house in April 2021, likely for close to its $5.95 million asking price. However, they had second thoughts shortly after buying it (their listing agent said that they wanted a different house better suited to their need to entertain and host alumni.)

The Westlake new-build that the Sarkisians bought in July 2022 (likely for its $7.495 asking price) has 6,250 square feet. Plenty of room for post-game fêtes.

— Bob Goldsborough, Contributing Reporter


Austin's number of millionaires has grown 110% in the past decade

Color us surprised.

That's per a 2024 U.S. wealth report based on data between 2013 and 2023 from Henley & Partners, a consultancy firm.

And get this: Silicon Hills beat out Silicon Valley. The firm found that the San Francisco Bay Area saw an 82% growth in millionaires.

Austin Daily

So why these places specifically? They're either popular retirement destinations or tech/finance hubs with deep-pocketed workers.

Austin has become home to both Oracle's and Tesla's headquarters within the past decade, just to name two tech giants that draw talent.

Plus, as the report pointed out, Texas and Florida are tax-friendlier than other states.

Makes sense why there are also 10 billionaires living here. And those are just the ones we know of ...


Were so glad you found us. Find our bios and contact info here, or reach out at hello@austindaily.com. Behind todays send: Katie Canales, Cat DeLaura, Mary Wasson and Bob Goldsborough.