The boxes are packed, the moving trucks are here, and the first CPS Energy employees are officially moving to the utility’s new headquarters at 500 McCullough Avenue. While we will dearly miss our old home on Navarro Street, our big move signals a new era for us and the community we’ve loyally served for 160 years.
The old CPS Energy headquarters on Navarro Street are comprised of buildings that are 92 and 52 years old, respectively. The age of these buildings continually required escalating operating and maintenance costs to keep them safe and secure. Their sale will offset the cost of our new home and help us save money each year going forward. Once sold, the older buildings can be redeveloped by the next owner.
“The building is…attractive, but it’s affordable,” said Frank Almaraz, Chief Administrative and Business Development Officer, in an interview that took place on Sept. 11, 2020 with News 4 San Antonio’s Jaie Avila. “We focused very, very much on making sure that we were spending these dollars in the most prudent way possible. We think it’s going to be a fantastic place for us to base our operations out of. We are a 24/7/365 business that supports our community. In this time of COVID, everything’s just gotten a little more complicated, but we know one day we will welcome our customers to our facility and they will see that we have done the right thing for the community.”
Our new home will be more energy efficient and cost-effective. It is 60% more efficient that our older headquarters and we paid special attention to things like using recycled wood to create tables and fixtures, as well as having fewer offices that would block natural sunlight.
“Our customers are going to be better served with this new building with the lower cost that it takes to maintain it,” said Frank. “It’s 60 percent less energy intensive. With an [older building], everything is more expensive from an efficiency standpoint, but even just maintaining the exterior, it’s gotten so cost-burdensome that really the only responsible thing to do is to consolidate our employees into something that’s going to last us for many more decades [to come] and be more cost-effective.”
Once it is safe to return to the office, nearly 1,200 of CPS Energy’s 3,100 total employees will work at the new McCullough building, which will serve as a modest yet attractive addition to the Broadway corridor downtown and the downtown skyline. The total cost of the building will come in at $212 million, which is less than the company’s original budget allocation of $215 million. Significant care was taken to ensure that every monetary decision, even down to each piece of furniture in the building, was made with discretion and with the community in mind.
“The cost of furnishings is a small fraction of the total amount of the project itself,” said Frank. “We are taking over as much of the furniture that has an existing useful life in our current facilities…[but] it really is time for a refresh.”
Expenditures to our competitively selected furniture vendor represent only 3.4% of the total project costs. ($7.3 million for furniture / $212.0 million for the total spend = 3.4%).
From the very beginning when the project formally began in 2017, CPS Energy obtained public input to come up with three key principles in making our decision for our future headquarters selection:
- Stay in the downtown area,
- Ensure the cost of the new headquarters would not drive an increase in customer rates, and
- Take the opportunity to spur economic development in the selected area of downtown.
“We watched every penny as though it was our own,” said Frank. “We know that, in the end, these are the dollars of our community and we were careful to only spend money that was cost-effective and prudent. I’m very comfortable with what the big team of people, who analyzed this to every penny, have produced and I think that we’ve been very, very reasonable.”
We are confident that, in the years to come, the new McCullough building will serve as a beacon to our community.
For additional information about CPS Energy’s new headquarters on McCullough, read this informational fact sheet. To hear the complete interview with Almaraz and Avila, listen to the audio recording or download the transcript below.