Port San Antonio approves design phase for innovative office tower

By Iris Gonzalez

Port San Antonio is moving ahead with its plan to add a 300,000-square-foot office tower to its expansive innovation-focused campus. The Port’s redevelopment plans for the former Kelly Air Force base southwest of downtown include a new multistory office tower that will house DeLorean Motor Co., a lab that simulates lunar terrain, and a “vertiport” for electric takeoff and landing vehicles.

Thursday afternoon, the Port’s Board of Directors approved an agreement not to exceed $2 million with the Trammell Crow Company (TCC) for pre-development work on the state-of-the-art office tower at the intersection of Billy Mitchell Blvd. and General Hudnell Dr., the Port’s main entrance. TCC is a leading global commercial real estate developer and a wholly owned subsidiary of CBRE Group, Inc.

“Trammell Crow Company has a deep passion for creating innovative and market-leading office environments, and we are incredibly proud to partner with Port San Antonio on this transformational project,” said TCC Managing Director Brad Maples. “Port San Antonio has an impressive track record of fostering innovation and creating opportunity, and we look forward to assisting the Port as it expands its legacy and prepares for its next phase of growth.”

The Port and TCC, along with design architect firm Pelli Clarke & Partners, will work toward refining demand and design concepts for the ambitious project. The international architecture practice is based in New Haven and New York City and is known for its innovative designs, including the Frost Bank Tower in downtown San Antonio.

The building is projected to have anywhere from 12 to 15 floors and will have structured parking, outdoor amenities, and green spaces for gathering.

The office tower, a first for the Port, will help it meet the substantial demand for Class A++ office space on its innovation campus as its customer base continues to scale. Over the past six years, the Port has built and leased over 700,000 square feet of new facilities and transacted more than 6 million square feet of renewed and expanded spaces. Since 2017, over 7,000 new jobs have been added to Port San Antonio, bringing the current employment base to 17,000 employees.

Read: Port San Antonio Created Over 1,200 Jobs in 2020

Port San Antonio is home to global companies specializing in aerospace, robotics, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, education, space exploration, and defense. Among its 80-plus tenant customers are industry stalwarts Boeing, StandardAero, CNF Technologies, Plus One Robotics, the U.S. Air Force, Northrop Grumman, IPSecure, DeLorean Motors, Knight Aerospace, Accenture Federal Services, Chromalloy, and Technica, among several others.

The planned office tower building is one of three major projects the Port announced in 2022 as part of its growth. The other projects underway include a highly specialized airport facility called a vertiport that will serve traditional fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles. The third planned project is an advanced and applied research complex focusing on aerospace and critical infrastructure technologies.

The new office building will look “like nothing else on this planet,” Port president and CEO Jim Perschbach said. “In design language, we want something visually that speaks to our [aviation] heritage.”

Pershbach projects the building will open for new tenants within four years. As many downtown areas in cities across the U.S. struggle with office vacancies, Port San Antonio has the enviable challenge of meeting brisk demand for more office space.

“We had a space open up on our property, and before we could advertise it, we already had eight companies asking about it,” Perschbach said. “We’re sitting in an area that’s one of the best tech integration hubs in the world. We need to make enticing workspaces that encourage collaboration and attract top talent.”

The featured image is a conceptual rendering of the planned tower on the Tech Port campus (Credit: Port San Antonio and Pelli Clarke & Partners).

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