CPS Energy has announced that it will not raise rates to help cover the costs of its new $122 million headquarters – opting instead to dispose of some of its real estate assets.
That’s bound to be a relief for its more than 786,000 electric customers and 339,000 natural gas customers in and around San Antonio, Texas.
Last June, the municipally owned utility bought the 430,000-square-foot AT&T property, which it intends to renovate completely over the next three years, in order to house all 1,200 of its employees and the majority of its operations
“Having them all in one building … is going to help us from a productivity standpoint and also give us the ability in a changing economic market to be able to pull teams together at the workspace and enable them to efficiently establish good products and services,” John Benedict, a vice president who oversees the company’s real estate portfolio, told the San Antonio Express-News on November 10. .
The current headquarters — at 145 Navarro Street — is a 1920s-era building that can accommodate 800 employees at most, Benedict told the local news outlet. The older property also needed a complete renovation that would have interfered with the utility’s operations, Benedict said.
While some customers have voiced concern that spending on the new headquarters will lead to rate increases, Benedict told the Express-News that the costs will be offset by multiple property sales as the company consolidates operations into the new headquarters. Purchasing and renovating the property was also the cheapest option CPS considered. Renovating its existing headquarters would have cost roughly $142 million, he said.
CPS is including retail space in its new parking garage for employees and the public, Benedict said. He defended the utility’s role as a developer by saying it’s important for CPS to make a strong commitment to downtown San Antonio rather than building a new headquarters in the suburbs.
The building will open for business in late 2019.