Campus Real Estate Office applies stewardship to UT Austin property actions
The Campus Real Estate Office pursues and protects the best interest of our university in a variety of important real estate capacities, including establishing and managing lease agreements, acquiring properties, negotiating easements and right of way, and supporting projects and departments.
Director of Real Estate Amy Wanamaker heads Campus Real Estate Office (CREO), a small team which she describes as the real estate department for the university.
“CREO manages the more than 4,000 acres the university owns in and near Austin as of 2020 and serves as the historical memory of those acres,” Wanamaker said.
Wanamaker explains that one of CREO’s tasks is to help UT Austin departments identify and negotiate lease space in buildings off-campus. These departments have included the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Office of Admissions, McCombs School of Business, Moody College of Communication and the LBJ School of Public Affairs. CREO also manages real estate activities related to the Dell Medical School. In addition, CREO handles real estate negotiations with non-UT tenants such as those occupying spaces in the Health Transformation Building and Health Discovery Building.
Currently, CREO manages 52 leases—almost 480,000 square feet of space, Wanamaker says, noting that these leases require close collaboration with FAS divisions and units such as Accounts Payable Services and Business and Financial Services for lease payments made and lease income the university receives, respectively.
When the university leases and buys properties, strategic planning and relationships within UT and with the community are key, Wanamaker explains. An example she gives is 2400 Nueces, a 16-story apartment building that was completed by a student housing developer in 2010 under a ground lease agreement with UT and was fully occupied when it opened in West Campus that fall. The university also asked the developer to include 19,000 square feet of commercial office space to house TEXAS Global, which remains there.
“When we leased 2400 Nueces, we negotiated a purchase option and bought it last year,” Wanamaker said. “As a result, University Housing and Dining was able to add the property to their portfolio.”
The building has provided University Housing and Dining, one of nine departments in the Division of Student Affairs, with a mix of units from studios to four bedrooms, accommodating an occupancy of 648 students. In addition to being conveniently located near campus, 2400 Nueces offers amenities to students, including a study room, computer lounge and community lounge.
According to Wanamaker, CREO’s role continues to expand as new types of partnerships are formed among private developers such as the developer of the Moody Center Arena and the university, as well as with local non-profit agencies such as the City of Austin and Central Health, the local health care district.
Overall, Wanamaker reports that in the last year, CREO devoted 95 percent of its efforts to supporting ten academic departments (25 separate units and programs), three research units and 14 non-academic departments with project support, leases and licenses, easements and right of way, and acquisitions, including real estate activities related to the Dell Medical School. Wanamaker emphasizes that CREO’s partnerships with many departments in FAS are vital to the unit’s successful stewardship and its service to clients.
“We work closely with almost every department in Financial and Administrative Services, especially Accounting and Financial Management, Budget Office, Business and Financial Services, Environmental Health and Safety, Campus Safety, UT Police Department, Capital Planning and Construction, Project Management and Construction Services, and Facilities Services,” Wanamaker said. “The benefits are tangible.”