All posts by Sarah Sparrowhawk

2020 ABJ Commercial Real Estate Award – Community Impact

The Boutique at The Refuge Ranch received the 2020 Austin Business Journal Commercial Real Estate Community Impact Award and we were honored to have been included in this collective effort alongside Sixthriver and many others who brought this unique project to life.

  • Lead developer: Square One Consultants
  • General contractor: The Burt Group
  • Primary architect: Sixthriver
  • Interior designer: Sixthriver
  • Structural engineer: Dunaway Associates

Why it won: The Boutique at The Refuge Ranch is a small project that means a whole lot to those who use it.

It is a roughly 2,000-square-foot store, with 1,600 square feet inside and 400 on an outside deck, at The Refuge Ranch, a therapeutic community for child survivors of sex trafficking in Bastrop County. A dilapidated double-wide construction trailer was completely transformed into the Boutique, where the girls who live at the ranch can shop for clothing, jewelry, accessories and other items that can make them feel more at home during their time at the community.

The estimated $150,000 project was completed pro bono. In addition to the work of general contractor The Burt Group and architect Sixthriver, more than 20 different partners contributed, including:

•             F&V Drywall, roof framing, interior framing, all drywall

•             Berg Electric, all electrical elements and labor

•             Earnest Roofing, all roof materials and labor

•             Delta Millworks, plank cladding

•             Travis Millworks, materials and labor

•             Legacy Lighting, lighting materials

•             Commercial Flooring Systems, flooring and install

•             Alison & Co., lighting

•             Astek, wallcoverings

•             Neihi Glass, labor installing all windows

•             Benjamin Moore, paint

•             Home Depot in Bastrop, discounts on materials

•             SKG

•             Shaw

•             Knoll Crossville

•             Schluter

An old construction trailer was converted to a Boutique onsite at The Refuge.

In addition, an anonymous $10,000 donation helped provide supplies for the build. Corralling donated labor was a major hurdle. So was overcoming unique security concerns during construction, due to the sensitive nature of the site.

“Given the circumstances that some of these girls come from, this was of the highest priority. During construction we could not provide the address of the site, requested that all on-site personnel turn off their locator on their phones and they were limited to only remaining in one designated area.”

The design of The Boutique mimics a traditional retail store. The rear portion is reserved for private items and dressing rooms where the girls at the community can gather and share their finds. A covered front porch entry doubles as an outdoor classroom and gathering space.

In addition to serving as a refuge of normalcy for residents of Refuge Ranch, the Boutique is a place for them to learn budgeting skills and even job training, with employment offered to those who want it.

Procore Release Updates to Sage Integrations

Procore Release Updates to Sage Integrations

Create a seamless connection from the field to financials with these Sage and Procore integrations

 NOVEMBER 14, 2018
CF Sage100Prospect Blog Image960x540

In July, Procore announced its partnership with Sage. Today, the company released exciting updates to the Sage and Procore Integrations, now better equipped to serve users across the construction industry. With enhancements to the Sage 300 CRE integration and launch of the Sage 100 integrations, Procore is able to offer something to every construction professional, regardless of size or trade. Improving upon these two Sage integrations has been another step toward providing tools that work for professionals throughout the industry, streamlining their jobs and simplifying the workflow.

“Now everybody is on the same page. We’re excited that the two platforms can talk to each other. As a result, we have that real time, valuable information to share with whoever asks, whether it be a bank, a bonding company or the client,” says integration user, Heather Merz, CPA, CFO of The Burt Group.

Procore and Sage 100  

  • The Sage 100 Contractor connector is a new integration that will allow users to sync cost data between Procore and Sage 100 platforms
  • This integration will ultimately provide one source of truth and reduce manual entry into multiple systems

Procore and Sage 300 CRE

  • The Sage 300 CRE connector is offering major enhancements to its current functionality, and now allows users to sync Prime Contracts and Prime Contract Change Orders between Procore and Sage 300 CRE
  • The result is a fully integrated solution with Procore Field Financials

Through these integrations users are able to align project management and accounting by synchronizing data for all projects in one location, reduce double entry and monitor the financial health of projects in real time. Secondarily, users are able to have greater foresight and tracking of total project cost. Visibility is increased, which in turn reduces uncategorized revenue loss. How do the integrations allow for this? There are three benefits of the integrations that lead to these results. 

  • Access to a Single Source of Truth — Users can seamlessly automate the process of exchanging information between Procore and Sage, resulting in one source of truth between field and office teams.
  • Mitigate Risk — Users can mitigate the risk of human error that is caused by manually entering data into multiple systems.
  • Stay Informed with More Accurate Data — With real-time data synced between Procore and Sage, users have access to the most up to date information in making their decisions.

The Sage 100 and 300 integrations provide a competitive advantage with the ability to give users the best of both worlds. Project teams can use a construction management solution they love and office teams can use an accounting system they trust.

Boutique at The Refuge Ranch built exclusively for child sex-trafficking victims


A special boutique designed for a very special group of women.

“The girls will get to go in there and pick out everything they need. Some things to make them feel special,” says Steven Phenix. He’s the communications director for The Refuge Ranch, which sits on 50 acres in Bastrop County. The Refuge Ranch is a therapeutic community for 48 girls, minors through age 19, who have been rescued out of sex trafficking.

For months The Refuge Ranch, architect and interior design company Sixthriver, and The Burt Group have been working together to build what they’re calling “The Boutique”. Transforming a double-wide construction trailer, to this sleek boutique at the refuge ranch, exclusively available to the 48 girls and women on-site.

Something Brooke Boggs Wood, Marketing Director of The Burt Group says will be an amazing addition to help with their road to recovery. “The biggest difficulty is seeing the harsh reality of child sex trafficking right here in our community,” she says.

Latana McGraw, interior designer for Sixthriver says, “The way The Refuge works they get a lot of donations clothing and items like that for girls but in giving it to them they want to not just say hey this was given but they want this to be more of an experience to the girls and pick it out. A going to the store experience.”

What makes The Boutique stand out is they’re only accepting brand-new items.

McGraw says, “the reason it’s so important these things are new and it’s not a hand-me-down is because it’s supposed to be something where the girls feel they really matter. Giving them back the identity that they felt was taken from them. I think it’s a psychological thing like I’m worth more than something that was used but I’m worth something new and someone thinking that for me.”

And some local big name brands have already donated.

Phenix adds, “Designers like Kendra Scott, Hey Girl, Kelly Wynne handbags.”

But in order to get the ball fully rolling, this non-profit needs about $20,000 more dollars in donations to see their vision come alive. From there, The Boutique is expected to open by April.

McGraw says, “Once we have full funding we can go and then from there it will take 3 months or so.”

The Boutique will also serve as a location for vocational training for these women. Beautifully laid out in a sleek style that’s fashionable but still meant to empower young survivors while they’re restoring their sense of self.

If you’d like to donate: give hereand type in “The Boutique” for “Send Acknowledgment To”.

List of Contributors:

ALISON & CO – decorative lighting ASTEK -custom wallcovering B SQUARED ELECTRIC – electrical BENJAMIN MOORE – paint BUILDING IMAGE GROUP – exterior signage CFS – flooring & tile install CROSSVILLE TILE – tile at restrooms DUNAWAY ASSOCIATES – structural  DELTA MILLWORKS – exterior wood cladding F&V DRYWALL – framing & drywall, demo, etc.  KNOLL – drapery & window treatments  LEGACY LIGHTING – lighting NEIHI GLASS – storefront glazing & install SHAW – vinyl plank flooring t/o & area rug SCHLUTER – trim  SKG – furniture  STUDIO DZO – custom decals & signage, display  SIXTHRIVER – design  THE BURT GROUP- contractor TIMBERTOWN- wood for deck TRAVIS MILLWORKS – millwork

Inside GM’s Austin tech center, one of city’s many corporate innovation hubs

By   – Staff Writer, Austin Business Journal

It was a bold, but necessary step to keep pace in a global industry. About five years ago, executives at the Detroit headquarters of General Motors Co. chose to take information-technology operations, 90 percent of which had been outsourced, and turn them into “a core competency,” said David Caldwell, a corporate relations manager for the giant automaker.

“That’s extremely unusual in our industry,” he said.

Today, the Texas capital is home to the largest of GM’s four IT Innovation Centers, boasting more than 2,600 employees at its McCallen Pass and East Parmer Lane buildings, which measure more than 400,000 square feet and 280,000 square feet, respectively.

GM’s decision to place that key hub in Austin is one reason why the city is gaining a more national and global reputation as a center of innovation that is helping to attract similar tech-focused hubs from other industries. (The map below is a sampling of just some of the companies that have followed suit.)

GM’s (NYSE: GM) worldwide fulltime IT workforce totals 9,500, more than 5 percent of its overall headcount of 180,000.

Unlike some companies that create internal tech hubs, GM doesn’t differentiate locations by function. Instead all IT activities — such as Galileo, a proprietary cloud-computing platform; machine learning; data analytics; and, its electric-vehicle Maven Gig service — exist at all four innovation centers, said Randy Mott, senior vice president for global information.

The 2013 strategic move reduced GM’s IT run rate by $190 million, Mott said. What’s more, it allowed the company to retire 3,777 software applications. The IT team currently supports 2,750 applications.

Mott said bringing IT in-house also increased the company’s recruiting capability.

Among the technologies that Austin-based GM employees have worked on are apps for company brands such as Chevrolet and a project announced in April that allows Amazon Prime members to receive package deliveries to their vehicles.

Arizona, Georgia and Michigan host the other GM tech hubs, which like the one in Austin are all within a few hundred miles of multiple universities that graduate students with IT degrees. New hires may choose to work at any of the four tech-hub locations.

School flags hang from the ceiling over alums’ desks throughout the GM IT Innovation Center. Cultivation of a college-like atmosphere is intentional, said Sue Brann, IT executive director and chief administration officer.

“It helps retention,” Brann said.

The final move-in by General Motors into its building on McCallen Pass earlier this month marked the Austin culmination of that decision made by the company back in 2013.

Mott said he and his colleagues strive for a healthy mix of recent grads and seasoned veterans — who share their expertise. An optimal balance is one where the younger employees seek to do the impossible because they don’t know any better, and the older compete with them because “they want to win,” Mott said.

Ninety-nine percent of employee losses due to attrition are filled with recent grad hires, he said. The graduate hires account for more than 1,300 of the Austin IT Innovation Center workforce.

The Burt Group Broke Ground on the NEW Ascension Seton Health Center

BUDA, Texas (KXAN) – One of Central Texas’s fastest-growing communities is getting two new medical centers. Baylor Scott & White and Seton will break ground Wednesday on the facilities in Buda.

This section of Hays County is growing fast. According to census data, the population is booming.

  • 1990: 1,958
  • 2000: 2.784
  • 2010: 7,557
  • 2016: 15,023

Baylor Scott & White’s medical center will be built off White Wing Trail and will offer a full-service hospital, including primary and specialty care.

“We chose that part of central Texas because it is growing so quickly and we are growing quickly, too. We want to grow with that community,” says Ann-Marie Price, the director of project management and community development at Baylor Scott & White Health.

Less than a quarter mile away, the new Ascension Seton Health Center on Overpass Road will be a $12-million facility offering primary care for the whole family as well as walk-in appointments in the event of a minor injury.

“We really looked at the whole family needs, and that’s what really helped us determine what we really needed to focus on. The primary care needs and pediatric primary care needs,” says Kate Henderson, the Regional Hospital president at Seton Medical Center Hays.

At the same time, Seton’s hospital in Hays County is adding a $14 million expansion to the women’s services unit, pediatric care and its trauma care with the addition of two neurosurgeons.

Baylor Scott & White is also building a new facility right now in Pflugerville, set to open this fall.

Both medical centers in Buda are expected to be complete next year.

Salvation Army breaks ground on two buildings after smashing fundraising records

Turning real estate into real community benefits is the backbone of two projects that broke ground June 29, sponsored by the Salvation Army Austin Area Command.

One is the Rathgeber Center for Women and Children: A Salvation Army Shelter on Tannenhill Road near East Martin Luther King Boulevard and U.S. Highway 183. The other project is the Austin Citadel Corps Community Center and Area Command facility at 4700 Manor Road on the eastern edge of the Mueller master-planned community.

Costs will be covered by the Salvation Army’s first local capital campaign in 27 years, which was a stellar success.

“We raised a record-breaking $19.2 million,” said Jan Gunter, deputy development director for the local nonprofit. “We really applaud the Austin business community, individuals and foundations who stepped up and donated to this capital campaign.”

After quietly securing pledges for $10 million in 2015, the Salvation Army had hoped to garner $17 million by now. The organization far surpassed that goal. In addition to the shelter and community center, capital campaign funds are being used to renovate the Salvation Army’s 242-bed homeless shelter in downtown Austin, which should be finished in October. The Salvation Army will also build a 50-bed drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in South Austin. The timeline on that has yet to be determined.

An endowment has been created, as well, to support the long term maintenance and operations of the facilities, Gunter said. Contributors of $500 or more to the endowment will receive be named in the Pathway of Hope at the new shelter.

The 52,800-square-foot shelter will be delivered in two phases. The first phase, projected to open in May 2018, will include 40 bedrooms. The second phase, which should wrap up in October 2018, will add 23 bedrooms. When completed, the facility will support a capacity of 213 people.

The project can’t open soon enough for Gunter.

“We have a waiting list of 500 on any given day,” she said.

The community center and command headquarters will serve several functions — community outreach, a base for administrative functions, a chapel for worship services, a gymnasium for various programs, including exercise, and meeting rooms.

Character building and spiritual development programs will be supported and enhanced in a tangible way.

The 17,000-square-foot building is expected to be finished in May 2018.

O’Connell Robertson is the architect for both the shelter and community center. E2 Construction Inc. is the general contractor for the shelter, and The Burt Group is handling construction for the community center.

Project near Capitol illuminates art of retrofitting old offices with rooftop terrace, tree-shaded courtyard

It’s been nearly a year since Dallas-based Prescott Group purchased the historic Texas State Teachers Association building just west of the State Capitol.

Despite being an arduous retrofit of a chunky concrete structure, Prescott Group and its team of builders, engineers and designers is making substantial headway in creating a modern, light-filled Class A building that will provide about 100,000 square feet of multi-tenant office space by the end of the year.

Brian Leslie and David Dierkes, managing director and senior director of Prescott Group, gave me a tour of the property recently, recapping details of how the unique deal came together.

The real estate investment company, which particularly relishes value-added renovation projects, had been shopping around Austin for some time. The company almost initiated its first foray into Austin with the Saint Elmo Market District — a mixed-use project with retrofit characteristics in South Austin.

But the developer decided to pursue another partnership — it was a cordial parting — and Prescott Group checked in with Walter Saad, a capital markets expert then with CBRE Group Inc. and now with HFF. Saad was marketing the Capitol-area property — portions of which date back to 1950 — on behalf of the Texas State Teachers Association, which decided to sell and move to North Austin.

Prescott Group jumped at the opportunity.

“It was all kind of appealing to us,” Leslie said.

Of course the due diligence process presented a legion of puzzles to be solved. Many investors and developers shun the hard stuff, such as working within the confines of an existing footprint, old materials and obsolete floorplans. Prescott Group revels in the restraints.

In the past the company renovated a 1923 Art Deco property in Dallas into The Stoneleigh boutique hotel. The possibilities for reviving tired office buildings — in Dallas, Fort Worth and Tulsa mostly — energizes the Prescott team.

In early March 2016 the sale was completed. No purchase price has ever been disclosed, though the Travis Central Appraisal District most recently valued the property, which sits on 1 acre, at $12.5 million. Dierkes said the renovation and expansion of the property is valued at $10 million.

Prescott Group retained Andersson-Wise Architects to handled the design, even though the two companies had never worked together before.

Leslie said the company was introduced to veteran architect Arthur Andersson by way of the Saint Elmo project and was duly impressed.

What evolved is an illuminated jewel box — a radical departure from the original bunker styling. Yet, the bones of the property are completely retained with floor-to-ceiling glass panes extending beyond the original frame — thus adding more square footage. Another bonus — the property originally was entitled for six floors, but only five were ever built.

The Burt Group, which has a history of handling confounding, large scale renovations, is the general contractor.

A new level is being added along with a rooftop terrace, which includes one of the most enviable views of the State Capitol. The panorama toward the Hill Country is pretty inspiring, too.

JLL has the assignment to find tenants.

Rachel Coulter of the brokerage team expects law firms, lobbyists and financial services companies will be eager to learn more — especially given that the property will have a fitness center, showers, bike storage, building conference room, structured parking and an outdoor courtyard shaded by an expansive live oak tree.

“Some 400,000-square-foot buildings don’t have the amenities that will be here,” Coulter said. “(Prescott Group) really pays attention to the details.”

Other companies involved in the project are Big Red Dog Engineering Consulting and Sixthriver Architects, which is handling interior design. Ryan Ridgeway with Stream Realty Partners is seeking an operator for the street level restaurant space.

Procore ramps up in Austin after finding success where tech, real estate meet

Procore Technologies Inc. — a Santa Barbara, California-based company that recently landed on Forbes’ 2016 billion-dollar startup list — is amplifying its Austin profile.

The cloud-based construction management software company recently moved into about 18,000 square feet on the 18th floor of Chase Tower at 221 W. Sixth St. after spending three years in co-working spaces, most recently at WeWork.

“Procore is becoming really valuable to large companies, but we can really provide a leg up for smaller contractors,” said Doug Madey, Procore’s director of communication.

Austin’s deep pool of tech talent prompted Procore to open an Austin operation in June 2013 with one person — Jeff Kemper — and now the local operation is up to 50 employees. The new space can accommodate 50 more, Madey said.

The rapidly growing company also recently secured $50 million in funding, lifting its total capital investment to about $179 million. San Francisco-based Iconiq Capital led the most recent fundraising effort. Procore expects to deploy its latest capital round to deliver more programs and expand internationally.

CEO Tooey Courtemanche founded the company in 2003 in Silicon Valley after learning the ins and outs of the software business.

His entry into the construction field began while building a new home for his family. He was stunned by the lack of coordination among the people he had hired. Just a decade ago, the construction business was decidedly low tech. Many companies simply didn’t know how to use technology effectively.

Courtemanche started with a web-based collaboration tool, and he acknowledged in comments on the company’s website that it was slow-go for years. Other software developers also tried to infiltrate the construction industry, but the 2008 economic upheaval put the nail in the coffin of many of those businesses.

Procore survived and thrived with patience and perseverance. The company touts itself on its site as “The #1 most widely used construction management software.”

Many of the giant construction companies still operate their own technology systems, but Madey said they are expensive to maintain.

Procore, he said, manages the entire process, ensuring that the smallest details are covered. Delivering the right materials at the exact time, for instance, can equate to thousands of dollars in cost efficiencies.

“Everybody is recognizing the benefit of cloud technology,” Madey said.

Cresa Partners represented Procore in its search for office space. Sixthriver Architects created the design, and The Burt Group handled construction.

Westview $11M Redevelopment of Office Building in Austin

The redevelopment of 316 W. 12th St. in Austin, which is slated to begin Oct. 10, will include an additional 26,000-square-foot floor to the building.

AUSTIN, TEXAS — Prescott Group Inc., along with an institutional investor, has acquired an office building at 316 W. 12th St. in Austin and plans an $11 million redevelopment of the property. The building is located on one acre and is within walking distance of the State Capitol, The University of Texas, Dell Medical School and Austin’s Downtown Entertainment District. The Texas State Teachers Association, which had owned the property since its completion in 1952, was the seller.

The redevelopment, which is slated to begin Oct. 10, will include an additional 26,000-square-foot floor to the building. Other planned improvements feature a new restaurant, rooftop terrace, conference room, fitness facility, bike storage and landscaped courtyard. Following the redevelopment, which should be completed in late 2017, the building will be renamed Westview.

Andersson•Wise Architects is designing the project. The Burt Group is the general contractor, Sixthriver Architects is the interior designer, Big Red Dog is the civil and MEP engineer, AEC is the structural engineer, and Co’Design is the landscape architect. The project lender is Texas Capital Bank, while HFF arranged the financing. Rachel Coulter and Kevin Kimbrough of the Austin office of JLL will lead the leasing efforts. Prescott Group is an asset management, investment and operating company based in Dallas.

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