GEORGETOWN — Three years after opening the first portion of the 280-acre Longhorn Junction commercial center with the construction of Citigroup’s data center, new movement can be seen on the west side of the development at I-35 and S.E. Inner Loop in Georgetown.
J Jacobs Construction, a Georgetown-based general contracting firm, is expected to begin construction on a renovation project to transform the former Candle Factory building into its headquarters before the end of the year.
Demolition of the building has been completed. Once construction begins, it could be finished in four to five months, and the company could be in its new offices in June, J Jacobs Construction President Stacy Rudd said.
The nearly $1.8 million building will be 10,000 square feet in size and feature design aspects inspired by the former Candle Factory, including translucent, back-lit panels.
“We are going to keep the concept of lighting up the building like the Candle Factory used to do, except it will be professional offices now, and it will be much more attractive,” Rudd said.
The commercial contractor is expected to occupy 5,000 square feet of the building, while the rest of the space will be available for lease for other professional offices.
“The building that’s there now is run-down, it’s kind of an eyesore, where it used to be kind of a cool place to go, and we are going to turn it into a cool place to go again,” Rudd said.
The new building will include other pieces of the site’s history, including a nod to the former candle factory with the Candle Café break room that will feature photos and other Candle Factory items.
Rudd said the move will also allow J Jacobs Construction to add jobs. He said he expects to hire two to three new employees once in the new space.
The second phase of the J Jacobs project includes a separate 20,000-square-foot building with 10,000 square feet for Jimmy Jacobs Custom Homes’ office space and an additional 10,000 square feet of lease space. Rudd said the design work for that building could begin sometime in 2012.
Located inside the commercial development, Rudd said he hopes the renovated building will bring other interested parties to the commercial center.
“I think that our first building is going to spur more interest and more activity for that new development,” Rudd said. “Since we are on the south edge of Georgetown, It’s going to be an improvement to what is there now. As you start to come into the edge of Georgetown, you are going to see this really nice building there, especially at night. For the Longhorn Junction, I think it’s just going to show that it’s a great place, it’s good access, that there is a lot of need for other users out there now.”
Georgetown Economic Development Director Mark Thomas is working with Longhorn Junction developers Omni Projects and Hall Properties to attract a second data center to the site.
“We still think there is a potential for a company to come here and build another facility in a couple years … or even sooner,” Thomas said.
The 50-acre site is located adjacent to the 55-acre Citigroup data center.
“[The center has] a significant impact, and it varies from year to year. Part of it is because of the revenues that they generate can vary by the way that they populate their center, meaning that another revenue source that comes off the center is from sales tax—the purchase of computers—and you are talking about a couple million dollars worth of computers that can generate a lot of sales tax,” Thomas said.
The city invested more than $10 million in infrastructure on the site, including electrical utilities and a wastewater line.
“That was a tremendous investment on the community side to make that deal happen, but based on the property and sales taxes generated and the utility revenue, it was a very worthwhile deal for the community,” Thomas said.
The Longhorn Junction development also features 850,000 square feet of retail space.
“This is the last, big, good retail site on I-35 until you get north of Georgetown,” said Bruce Barton of Omni Projects, adding that the retail portion of the project stalled with the economy. “Something like [a Macy’s or Dillard’s] is going to go here. It’s just when everybody gets things kicked off again.”
The site also has space for multifamily housing near FM 1460 and S.E. Inner Loop.
“We are seeing people starting to buy stuff and look at things again, which is good,” Barton said. “People are finding ways to move forward now, and we are working with several people.”