Texas Mutual Insurance Co. is moving its headquarters to Mueller, bringing 650 workers to the bustling mixed-use development just north of downtown Austin.
Construction on the firm’s four-story, 270,000-square-foot headquarters began this week. Filings with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation indicate the project will cost in excess of $50 million.
When it opens in mid 2018, the building will house employees currently working at two separate Austin-area offices. There will also be room to accommodate future growth, Texas Mutual president and CEO Rich Gergasko said.
“The driving force behind this is we’ve been growing our workforce,” Gergasko told the American-Statesman. “We looked at five different locations, but we kept coming back to Mueller. They’re creating a healthy environment to work and live, and I think that’s a great thing.”
Texas Mutual is the largest writer of workers’ compensation insurance in Texas, with almost 40 percent of the Texas market. It was created in 1991 by the Texas Legislature. Lawmakers created the insurer - initally called the Texas Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fund - because Texas employers couldn’t find anyone to write policies covering their employees injured on the job. In 2001 it was converted into a mutual insurance company.
The Mueller site that Texas Mutual selected – along Aldrich Street between Philomena and Garcia streets – is only about a mile from the building at 6210 E. U.S. 290 where most Texas Mutual employees currently work, Gergasko said. The rest are housed off Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360) near RM 2222 in North Austin.
At Mueller, Texas Mutual will be one of the development’s largest employers, joining Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas and the Seton Healthcare Family administrative offices, among others.
“We’re honored Texas Mutual has become the latest large employer to choose Mueller for its headquarters,” said Greg Weaver, executive vice president of Catellus Development, Mueller’s master developer. “Texas Mutual employees will enjoy working in a sustainable, state-of-the-art building in the heart of everything that is happening at Mueller, giving them access to 40-plus diverse eateries, a number of retailers, active parks and trails and multiple home options for those who are eager to lessen their commute – all of which will be in walking distance to them.”
Texas Mutual employees won’t even have to leave the building to enjoy some of those shopping and dining options. About 20,000 square feet of space on the ground floor will be designated as retail space.
Tenants for that space haven’t been announced yet.
Gergasko said an on-site daycare is possible, as well.
Nearby, Aldrich Street is springing to life with new development.
“There’s so much momentum at Mueller these days,” Weaver said. “Alamo Drafthouse will open soon, followed closely by a number of new, local eateries that are helping the Aldrich Street town center take shape. We also have nearly 1,000 residential units currently under construction, and we’ll break ground soon on a new park. If you haven’t visited Mueller in a little while, you’ll be amazed at how much it’s transforming.”
Designed by Studio8 Architects, the new Texas Mutual building will feature a number of contemporary elements, including a courtyard and a rooftop terrace offering views of downtown. Work areas will be open and feature an abundance of natural light, Gergasko said, and will include sitting and standing desks, which have been a hit at Texas Mutual’s Houston office.
“We’re really in tune with the idea of collaborative workspaces,” he said. “This is all about our employees. There are a lot of companies coming into Austin and we’re competing with them to hire – and keep – the best employees.”
Currently about 5,000 people work at Mueller, according to Catellus. When buildout is complete, that number is expected to grow to 13,000.
“Texas Mutual is a model of corporate leadership here in Central Texas, so when I learned the company was moving its headquarters to Mueller, I was not surprised,” Austin Council Member Kathie Tovo said. “The Mueller development is an innovative urban village that has become a point of pride for our city. It’s one of our most energetic hubs of commercial, residential and retail activity, and that means Texas Mutual will fit right in.”