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AUSTIN-HomeAway Inc. has signed an eight-year lease for 51,000 sf to relocate its headquarters from the southwest submarket to the CBD. The vacation rental company has taken all of the office space in an 86,000-sf building that will be ready to occupy in mid-2009.

Brian Sharples, CEO and co-founder of HomeAway, says the move to the new digs at 1011 W. 5th St. will more than double the space the 150-employee headquarters team now occupies at 3801 S. Capital of Texas Highway. More than size, however, dictated the move to the Downtown.

“We’re in a suburban development right now,” Sharples explains. “If people want to have lunch or get some coffee, they have to get in their cars and drive. They can’t walk to anything.”

Furthermore the CBD building, being developed by Schlosser Development Corp. of Austin, is allowing HomeAway to take advantage of various amenities within walking distance. Sharples says the fact that the building is in the “Market District” means HomeAway doesn’t need as much space for amenities. “There’s the finest supermarket down the street: Whole Foods’ landmark store. That’s our new corporate cafeteria and now we don’t have to build one,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “There are two coffee shops on either side of us. There’s a large gym across the street. Now we don’t have to build a gym.” There’s green space as well since the building is going up along a hike-and-bike trail.

In addition, signing a lease while the building is under construction allowed the company to put its own personal stamp on the space. “This means we can bring in our own interior designer and design it to our corporate culture,” Sharples says.

The interior is being designed by CTA Architects Engineers’ Austin team to meet LEED Gold certification standards for commercial interior design. Mike Wiley, a broker with Southwest Strategies Group in Austin, represented HomeAway in the search for new space. Quoted rates for class A office space in Austin’s Downtown range from $34 per sf to $36 per sf plus electric.

Schlosser’ remaining 35,000 sf will house retail. The anchor tenant is West Elm, a contemporary furniture store. Sharples says Schlosser Development is in negotiation with potential tenants for the remainder of the space.

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