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H-E-B Plans for World-Class Tech Facility in Austin

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H-E-B continues its path toward becoming a dominant force in the digital retail space, announcing that it has signed a long-term lease for a building in East Austin, according to its website.

The largest privately-held employer in Texas will develop a world-class tech facility and innovation lab for its growing H-E-B Digital team and Favor, the Austin-based on-demand delivery service that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of H-E-B.

Set for completion in spring 2019, H-E-B will turn the recently renovated industrial warehouse into a creative and collaborative workspace for Austin-based Partners (employees) of the H-E-B Digital team and Favor’s corporate headquarters. H-E-B also has a strong technology and digital presence at its corporate headquarters in San Antonio and will continue to grow its digital team in both cities.

H-E-B enlisted HPI Corporate Services as its tenant broker and has engaged global architecture firm, IA Interior Architects, to fully customize the two-story, 81,000 square-foot facility. Located at 2416 East Sixth Street, the property is walking distance to several amenities such as restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, and the 7th Street H-E-B store.

“This state-of-the-art space will be a hub for creativity and innovation as we continue to develop the ultimate digital experience for our customers,” said Jag Bath, H-E-B Chief Digital Officer and Favor CEO and President. “Bringing H-E-B and Favor closer together will allow us to promote collaboration between our two companies as we strengthen our commitment to building out H-E-B’s omnichannel services.”

With this expanded Austin footprint, H-E-B and Favor plan to add several hundred jobs to the local economy and are actively hiring across all areas of expertise, including product management, product design, and software engineering. Career opportunities can be found on the H-E-B and Favor websites.

This year, H-E-B has made a series of announcements and strategic technology investments to further establish the company as a technology leader in Texas, including the acquisition of Favor, the appointment of Bath as H-E-B’s Chief Digital Officer, and the recent addition of Mike Georgoff as Chief Product Officer for H-E-B Digital. In addition, H-E-B continues to enhance its digital offerings with the expansion of its H-E-B Delivery and H-E-B Curbside service, which is available in more than 145 locations across the Lone Star State and is on track to reach 165 stores in 2018.

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Alamo City Music Hall on East Side Closes

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A local East Side favorite is closing after nearly a decade of hosting live music to make way for a new technology and research center.

Sylvia Fernandez, owner of Alamo City Music Hall at E. Houston and N. Cherry streets, posted on the venue’s Facebook page that:

“It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness that I must say goodbye to Alamo City Music Hall. Pete (her late husband) and I opened this venue in March of 2010 wanting to bring the live music scene to a new level. Through hard work, dedication and help from all of the fans, promoters and long time staff who have all been with us since the inception, we were able to make Backstage Live /Alamo City Music Hall known as THE live music venue in San Antonio,”

Texas Research and Technology Foundation purchased the Merchant’s Ice complex, a former industrial site, about two years ago, and soon became the landlord for the music venue. The city of San Antonio recently approved an incentive package for the foundation to begin a massive redevelopment of the Merchant’s Ice complex to include business startups, a research component, a hotel, and more.

“All of us at Alamo City Music Hall can’t thank the community enough for your support over the years and to the bands and promoters, we are eternally grateful you chose our venue.,” Fernandez said. We will carry the memories with us forever. I will have updated information regarding a new venture for concerts in the near future.

To read more about the redevelopment, go here.

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Ready to Build or Buy a House?

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By Lisa Harrison Rivas

So, you have a pre-approval letter from your lender and you’re ready to go house hunting.

Now, you must decide if you want to buy an existing home or have a house built.  If you choose to build, will it be a tract home from one of the well-known builders or will you choose a custom home?

A custom home is built to the specifications of the buyer, while tract homes feature similar styles and floor plans. Tract homes are what you see in most subdivisions.

As a Realtor, I can help guide you through the process for buying any of these types of homes.

But if you are considering a custom home, you’ll need land and design plans. Your lender can provide information about home construction loans.

The San Antonio area has numerous custom home builders including Abraham Solis, chief of operations for Future Tech Custom Homes. Solis says his firm can offer construction loans at 4 percent interest and provide help with design plans.

“We have three designers that you can work with each with different price ranges from low to high,” he said. Future Tech Custom Homes start at $250,000.

Solis now runs the business that began with his father’s framing business 30 years ago. He and I recently talked about some basics of custom home building.

Q: What surprises people most about the process?

A: I think for us it was the timing. People were surprised at how fast we were.  And surprised with how we work with them and how everybody treated them.

Q: How long does it take?

A: For a big home, a million-dollar home, it generally takes about eight months.

Q: How does the process work?

A: I have a little system before we even start. When we get the initial commitment contract signed, they put down a deposit and from there, I give them a checklist. They have to go and get all the materials for the flooring, everything, you name it. So, before we even begin anything, they already start doing that checklist. So right before I break ground, on day one, I’m already ordering floors, countertops things like that.

Q: Do you help clients order the materials?

A: We have vendors that we have been working with, so we can send them to our vendors. If they have vendors, that’s fine too.

Q: Where do you build?

A: We mainly build in the north area. We’ll go as far as Austin.

Q: How would you describe Future Tech Custom Homes’ style?

A: It’s Hill Country meets modern contemporary. You still have your metal roofs, the colors outside are the light beiges and on the inside, it has a Spanish feel.

Q:  Why is Tech part of the name?

A: The smart homes. There’s a crew that we work with, they fully automated one of our homes. Apple watches can be used to turn on lights and appliances.  People really like that.

Q:  How much would that technology cost?

A: A good setup would cost about $10,000 or $15,000 for a fully-automated home.

Q: Do most people want one or two stories?

A: One story. People just don’t like to go up the stairs. Another thing that I also heard is that they like to do away with dining rooms as well. They want a nook, that’s it.  An open floor plan and a little nook on the side.

Q: Any unusual requests?

A: One couple had a foyer with a dome ceiling and the woman wanted gold flakes up there. They ended up going with this copper type paint.  It shined, it looked beautiful.

Q: Why would someone have a custom home built?

A:  I’ll say it the way my dad would say it. In a custom home, you get what you want. Everything is pretty much beefed up on a custom home. You’ll get your bang for your buck.


Lisa Harrison Rivas is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Don Johnson Realtors. 
If you are planning to buy or sell, feel free to contact her at 210-380-9006 or lhrivas@realsa.com

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IKEA Opens in San Antonio Feb. 13

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IKEA opens in Live Oak on Feb. 13 at 9 am, but customers can start lining up at 5 am.

Visitors will be greeted with family-friendly events, special offers and a chance to win thousands of dollars in gift cards—including three gift cards valued at $500, $1,500 and $2,000.

Throughout the entire day, visitors who join the IKEA FAMILY loyalty program or scan their IKEA FAMILY card in-store at an IKEA FAMILY kiosk, will also be automatically entered for a chance to win one of 20 $250 IKEA gift cards. Two winners will be randomly drawn and announced every hour from 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on opening day.

“We are thrilled to be opening our 49th store in the U.S. and fifth store in the state of Texas,” said Diedre Goodchild, store manager. “We have received such a warm welcome from the San Antonio-area and want to return the favor by welcoming our shoppers with food, fun and iconic IKEA products.”

Entertainment for customers waiting in line will start at 6 a.m., followed by the grand opening ceremony at 8:15 a.m. Doors will officially open at 9 a.m. Customers can learn more about the grand opening plans and promotions at IKEA-USA.com/LiveOak or by joining the free IKEA FAMILY loyalty program.

Since its 1943 founding in Sweden, IKEA has offered home furnishings of good design and function at affordable prices. During the past year, 160,000 co-workers welcomed 838 million visits to IKEA stores and more than 2.35 billion visits to IKEA.com.

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