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AUSTIN-Betting that office space near the center of state government will always be at a premium, the Texas Association of Counties has begun construction of a $22-million, 95,000-sf office building three blocks from the Texas capitol.

The association, which represents the state’s 254 county governments in state affairs, plans to occupy up to 65,000 sf and put the rest on the market, Sam Seale, the director, tells GlobeSt.com. “I don’t think we’ll have a problem leasing out the space,” he says, citing the building’s proximity to the state office complex. He says the association doesn’t have a leasing agent and hasn’t begun to market the space, which includes first-floor retail. Completion is scheduled for mid- to late-2002.

The eight-story building, at San Antonio and 13th streets on the north end of the CBD, has been designed to resemble a county courthouse, Seale says. With it, the association will consolidate its staff from five buildings in the vicinity. It owns four lots in the block around the new building, including its current headquarters, a 17,156-sf building at 1204 San Antonio.

The new building will have a business center for county officials visiting Austin; continuing education center; and the permanent home of the association’s County History Library. The parking garage will have space for 290 vehicles.

Financing is coming from the association’s workers compensation fund, $15 million, and its risk management fund, $7 million. The funds, which are administered by the association, will own the building.

Austin-based Steinbomer & Associates has designed the structure along with Kell Munoz Architects, based in San Antonio. Austin-based Zapalac/Reed Construction Co. LLC is the general contractor and American Realty Corp., based in Austin, is managing the project.

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