All posts by Jesse Kevon

Austin Tourism Boom Putting Strain on Hospitality Industry

The Burt Group’s Restaurant and Hospitality Division Rapidly Growing to Meet Demand

The Burt Group, a leading general contracting firm delivering complex, cutting-edge and transformative buildings and interiors is focusing their expertise in meeting Austin’s explosive demand for hospitality construction projects. As crowds continue to flock to the area, The Burt Group’s team is ensuring that Austin is fully prepared for the rapid influx of visitors.

“With the demand growing every day for more and more hospitality related projects here in Austin, our restaurant and hospitality division is staying very busy,” said Troy Chapman, vice president of client services, The Burt Group. “As the city’s tourism industry continues to boom, The Burt Group is poised to have a banner year.”

The Burt Group’s restaurant and hospitality division has already wrapped up multiple downtown Austin projects, including the remodeling of the Radisson Hotel & Suites and Littlefield Lofts. The team has also completed several restaurant projects, including Vox Table at Lamar Union on South Lamar, and the newest Jack Allen’s Kitchen location in Westlake. Additionally, their latest restaurant project, True Food Kitchen, a healthy eatery inspired by seasonal ingredients and wellness principals, is slated for completion in November of this year. The restaurant will be located downtown on the ground floor of the new Seaholm Residences building, formerly the Seaholm Power Plant.

Experts believe that construction in Austin’s hospitality sector will continue to see strong growth until supply catches up with demand. A study conducted by Smith Travel Research (STR) shows that hotel occupancy levels across the country are at all-time highs. However, the growth in the number of hotels remains relatively low. This has led to hotel construction booms in many parts of the country, especially in Austin. To meet the increase in demand for hotel rooms, many hoteliers are beginning to expand existing hotels or construct new ones.

According to the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, the city is seeing an annual growth in tourism of five percent year after year. With major events like X Games, South By Southwest and Austin City Limits Music Festival, as well Austin being an extremely popular conventions destination, business for local restaurants and hotels are seeing no signs of slowing.

About The Burt Group
The Burt Group is a leading general contracting firm delivering complex, cutting-edge and transformative interiors and buildings. The company has built a reputation as an award-winning leader in construction with its resolute focus on integrity, safety and agile project completion.

The Burt Group specializes in interior finish-out, adaptive reuse construction and ground-up construction in health care, restaurant, hospitality, corporate, manufacturing, industrial and technology environments.

Big, bold vision unveiled in Jack Allen’s Kitchen, Westlake style

Jack Allen’s Kitchen in Westlake has been open for a couple of months, but Austin Business Journal has some of the first photos to share of the reenvisioned space at 3600 N. Capital of Texas Highway.

This is Austin chef Jack Gilmore’s third stand alone location and it’s a far cry from Trento’s, the formal Italian restaurant that occupied the space previously.

It seems like an oxymoron, but the vibe now combines Texas grit and sophisticated sleekness.

Mann & Mann Architects in West Lake Hills designed the restaurant with plenty of elbow room.

There’s 6,700 square feet of air conditioned space and a spacious deck overlooking the Hill Country, too. About 325 diners can sample Gilmore’s trademarked chicken fried anything or red chili fries.

The Burt Group handled construction.

Jan Buchholz covers commercial and residential real estate, construction and architecture and retail and restaurants for the Austin Business Journal.

This article originally appeared in the Austin Business Journal

TBG Partners takes on a worldly view at Guadelupe Street digs

TBG Partners is celebrating an elevated position in the market — quite literally.

The Austin-founded landscape architecture firm took the top floor of a new five-story building at 1705 Guadalupe St. developed by The Burt Group.

Company officials said it seemed like the perfect location to continue the company’s rapid growth and recognize its heightened profile in the design world.

Earl Broussard founded the company in his Austin kitchen in 1987. Now the business has five Texas offices and others in Oklahoma and Florida. Its portfolio includes projects in Qatar, China, Mexico and the Bahamas. TBG also handled landscaping for two particularly prominent developments in Austin — the Seaholm Power Plant redevelopment and the Circuit of The Americas racetrack.

With the company’s lease for its Austin offices maturing, Broussard’s succession team decided they wanted to be closer to the action than in its suburban space off South MoPac Expressway.

The company settled on an evolving neighborhood between downtown and the University of Texas campus.

“We call this area ‘Downtown Light,’” said Brian Ott, managing principal of TBG in Austin.

The company leased 8,500 square feet, which was actually smaller than its former space at Barton Oaks Plaza.

“But we’ve got a much more efficient floor plate with open studio space,” Ott said.

And here’s another plus: The rent is about the same.

The property has an interesting history that dates back to the 1950s.

It was a two-story building that may have been a furniture store at one time. In the early 2000s, the building housed the Guadalupe Arts Center filled with artists’ studios.

A fire in 2005 caused about $650,000 damage. Many artists lost their work and about 75 tenants were displaced. The building had been vacant from some time when local real estate investors Cielo Property Group acquired the property and planned to build three stories on the original two floors.

The Burt Group — previously Burt-Watts Industries — was lined up to handle the general contracting.

In the end, circumstances changed and Tommy Burt — founder of The Burt Group — closed on the property and developed it himself. It’s the kind of project Burt enjoys. He remodeled 1300 Guadalupe St. down the street in partnership with NoackLittle Architecture and Interiors. That building was sold last year to New York investors.

In the interim, Burt located bland office-industrial space near Braker Lane and Metric Boulevard and converted it into stylish corporate headquarters.

While the company handles plenty of third-party assignments, Burt is always on the lookout for his own development opportunities and said more projects will be announced soon.

For now, everyone is enjoying 1705 Guadalupe, which includes a rooftop terrace with outdoor furniture and a large white wall for projecting movies.

In fact, Ott said, there will be plenty of tailgate parties for UT football games come fall. Some folks may just decide to hangout on the terrace and watch the TV coverage minus the crowds.

The deck also provides wow-factor views of the Texas Capitol and the downtown skyline.

Though TBG occupies all of the fifth floor, the rest of the building is for lease.

“It just screams tech and creative space,” said Kevin Granger, a broker with Peloton Commercial Real Estate who has the listing. “That area has really strong appeal and it’s not as congested as downtown.”

Granger said tour activity is strong, but no new tenants can be announced just yet.

Meanwhile, TBG employees are enjoying walking to restaurants such as Olamaie, the new Southern comfort restaurant located a block away — or taking the elevator to the ground floor and walking next door to the Dive Bar.

“We call that our Conference Room D,” Ott said.

Jan Buchholz covers commercial and residential real estate, construction and architecture and retail and restaurants for the Austin Business Journal.

This Article originally appeared in the Austin Business Journal.

TCOR Project Breaks Ground

TCOR Management located in New Braunfels Texas will be building a new office in Gruene, TX.  The building is a 9,794sf 2-story tilt all building be in the middle of downtown and only a 5 minute walk from Gruene Hall.  The project broke ground in the last week of May and is due to complete in early 2016. 

TCOR is the first ground up project for The Burt Group in Gruene. With the growth in Austin and the IH-35 corridor, New Braunfels, San Marcos, and the surrounding towns are seeing an increase in commercial development.

The Burt Group to Build High5 Family Fun Center in Lakeway

High5 is Lakeway’s premiere 2-story 45,000sf family fun center featuring 28 Brunswick bowling lanes, a 2-story laser tag arena, numerous arcade games, 2 large bars, full restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, and rooms for special events.  The project broke ground in the last week of May and is due to be completed in Fall of 2015.

This endeavor is led by Scott and Jenny Emley with the support of an enthusiastic group of over a dozen local area investors. Brian Liverman and Kevin Granger from Peloton Commercial Real Estate, looked tirelessly to locate this prime location for High5. In partnership with the property’s developer Stratus, The Burt Group is thrilled to be a part of turning this dream into a reality.

Redevelopment: Finally, new life for old IBM offices

What’s not to like about two nondescript, 1970s-style industrial buildings ravaged by fire and floods whose only occupants in the past 30 years have been raccoons?

“We love it,” said Tommy Burt, president and co-founder of Burt-Watts Industries, who led the investment team that purchased the properties in April 2013 from Powell Austin Properties Ltd., a local family.

His Austin-based contracting and construction management company now occupies a portion of the space acquired at 2111 and 2115 Kramer Lane in North Austin near The Domain.

“We got a good deal,” said Burt, who declined to say how much he paid for the two buildings that measure about 28,000 square feet each. According to the Travis Central Appraisal District, one building is valued at about $2 million and the other at $2.2 million.

Loan Science LLC and CommUnity Care leased the space Burt-Watts didn’t consume.

Burt said the ownership team spent $3 million to renovate all the spaces into attractive, contemporary offices that are a far cry from the buildings’ generic origins that date back to the early 1970s when IBM Corp. occupied them.

“I knew what I wanted to do with them when I walked it the first time,” Burt said.

The key was translating that vision into something practical, yet inspiring.

Burt leaned on his friend, colleague and sometimes co-investor Clay Little, partner in NoackLittle Architecture & Interiors. The two had collaborated on adaptive re-use — a formal term for converting obsolete spaces into something cool — at 1300 Guadalupe St. They purchased and converted that building into offices for both their firms.

Eventually, though, with 79 employees and growing, Burt-Watts needed much larger digs.

Burt began shopping for space and consulting with employees who had grown used to working close to downtown. He said they embraced the idea of moving north, off Braker Lane near Metric Boulevard.

“Everybody liked the amenities of The Domain nearby and having plenty of parking, which was a problem downtown,” Burt said. “We also got everybody involved in the concept of the design.”

Burt and Little have created a contemporary space — about 13,500 square feet — with wide shafts of natural light penetrating what was a dank, unappealing place. Modern finishes, unexpected flashes of color and an open floor plan have made all the difference in the world.

“Tommy has great design taste and he demands a lot of excellence,” Little said.

Added Burt: “I was worried about expectations, but it looks and feels even better that what I thought it could be. I’m greatly pleased.”

This article originally appeared in the Austin Business Journal.

Sally and Mack Brown Rise School of Austin breaks ground

Burt-Watts Industries Inc. broke ground this week on the Sally and Mack Brown Rise School of Austin at 4800 Manor Road in the Mueller development.

The 25,000-square-foot facility, which will serve children with developmental disabilities, was designed by O’Connell Robertson.
The private nonprofit it not releasing the cost of the school, though some published reports estimate a value of $5.6 million.

The building provides a permanent home for the school and is expected to open this summer. Until recently, Mack Brown was the University of Texas’ football coach.

This article originally appeared in the Austin Business Journal.

Chaotic Moon discovers a world of color and style in new offices

In July, the Austin Business Journal reported that Chaotic Moon Studios — a software and development company that counts some of the world’s biggest brands as clients — had chosen new workspace in historic buildings along Congress Avenue.

The 20,000-square-feet selected was a hodgepodge of space awkwardly connected at 315, 319 and 323 Congress Avenue, much of it above Annie’s Cafe & Bar. The Swift, Day and McKean-Eilers Buildings all date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s and connecting them in a cohesive and efficient manner was the challenge for Sixthriver Architects and project manager Tim Wright, principal of Caddo/CM. General contractor Burt-Watts Industries Inc. then made it all happen.

During the Austin Business Journal’s first tour of the space, the ambiance was dark and a little foreboding. But as you can see in our slideshow here, a few months of work has made a huge difference.

This article originally appeared in the Austin Business Journal.

Burt-Watts Becomes The Burt Group

Burt-Watts Industries transitioned to The Burt Group in 2014. The leading Austin-based general contractor has expanded its executive team and named four key leaders as vice presidents in a reorganization to support long-term growth.

The rebranding and reorganization also reflects the departure of Shane Watts, formerly vice president and co-founder of Burt-Watts Industries. The company was founded in Austin in 2002 and has grown to be one of the region’s leading independent general contracting firms.

“I am very proud of what Shane and I accomplished and I wish him all the best,” said Tommy Burt, CEO, The Burt Group.

“While our name has changed, our values remain the same.”

We have established new leadership within the company to take us forward. These changes will allow us to continue our long-term vision for growth and innovation in the industry.

The Burt Group’s leadership team is now comprised of four executives:

Heather Merz, CFO, has led the financial strategies and human resource departments of The Burt Group since 2005. Her extensive understanding of construction finance has made her an industry leader and strategic executive within the organization.

Joe O’Jibway, vice president of construction, will serve as the executive manager of all ground-up construction. With The Burt Group since 2008, he most recently served as executive project manager and led the completion of more than 6 million square feet of space.

Billy Lashbrook, vice president of construction services, was The Burt Group’s first employee in 2002. Formally the director of construction, Lashbrook has completed more than five million square feet of space and will provide executive management for all field operations.

“With such significant growth and many prospects for the future, it was important to reorganize our company with experienced professionals who understand our industry and the unique way we approach construction,” said Merz.

Delivering complex, cutting-edge and transformative interiors and buildings, The Burt Group has grown over 2,700 percent in less than a decade. Employing nearly 100 professionals in its north Austin headquarters, The Burt Group’s clients include companies such as General Motors, Emerson, Cirrus Logic, Seton Family of Hospitals, St. David’s HealthCare, The University of Texas and Goodwill Industries of Central Texas.

About The Burt Group

The Burt Group is a leading general contracting firm delivering complex, cutting-edge and transformative interiors and buildings. The company has built a reputation as an award-winning leader in construction with its resolute focus on integrity, safety and agile project completion.

The Burt Group specializes in interior finish-out, adaptive reuse construction and ground-up construction in health care, restaurant, hospitality, corporate, manufacturing, industrial and technology environments.

The Burt Group is a leading Austin-based commercial general contracting firm.