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Friday, June 12, 2015

Austin’s old power plant downtown now stunning creative office

The massive Art Deco-inspired Seaholm Power Plant in downtown Austin has long captivated the imaginations of locals and visitors alike, and now after many years of dreaming and planning the retrofitted building is almost ready for its new occupants.

About 70 employees of Athenahealth — a software company — will move into the building near Cesar Chavez Street and Lamar Boulevard on Feb. 9. The Austin Business Journal was given a private tour of the facility, which is one component of the $100 million Seaholm LLC redevelopment.

The redevelopment of the site began in spring 2013. The associated retail, office and public outdoor spaces are nearing completion with a residential condo tower under construction.

Numerous companies had shown interest in the redeveloped power plant, but it was Athenahealth of Watertown, Mass., that took the leap into the unknown and signed a lease with the development group, which was led by Austin-based Southwest Strategies Group.

Mark Blair, director of infrastructure for Athenahealth, said the hesitation on the part of other companies provided an opening for the health care company to place its imprint on Austin.

Though only 70 employees will have the run of the power plant at first, "we're projected to grow very quickly," Blair said.

The company's Massachusetts headquarters also is located in a historic preserved arsenal dating back to the 1830s. About 1,600 employees are based there.

CEO Jonathan Bush — a nephew of former President George H.W. Bush and a cousin of George W. Bush — is a fan of bringing historic structures into the age of innovation and technology, according to previous published interviews.

Currently, the Athenahealth offices will occupy 34,000 square feet in the former factory that's been transformed into a fortress of light. Two levels below ground — about 77,000 square feet — is available for expansion.

Charles Rose Associates were the architects on the project, STG Design was the consulting architect and Flintco LLC has been the lead contractor.

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