By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
As 3M Co. finalizes its move out of Four Points, the worldwide corporation hosted a farewell party this week, celebrating three decades at the 156-acre campus at 6801 River Place Blvd.
Hundreds of local employees enjoyed live music and food trailers brought to the campus on May 7. On display was a time capsule, it was placed into the 3M kiosk when the center was built 33 years ago commemorating groundbreaking and inscribed “3M Groundbreaking March 4, 1986”.
When the time capsule was opened on Tuesday, there were “old pictures of the land before the 3M center, a share of 3M stock, magazines… a huge banner everyone signed,” said Laura Devaney, 3M chemical engineer who works in regulatory affairs/product stewardship. She and her husband Doug, who is also a 3M chemical engineer, he works in manufacturing, moved to Austin in 1998. Together they have a combined 60 years at 3M.
This move will affect the Devaneys, like many others, who have worked at the local 3M site for decades.
3M is going through a multiphase move-out from the local campus. Most employees will move June 13 to the new building off Parmer Lane in Northeast Austin. The keys will be turned over to the new site owner, World Class Property Co., at the end of August, according to 3M spokesperson Stephen Sanchez.
In 2016, 3M announced it would sell the property. In June of 2017, 3M reached a deal to sell the 11-building campus to World Class Capital, a private investment firm that focuses on real estate. Since the sale, 3M has been leasing the space.
It is estimated the move from the local campus is affecting some 800 workers, many who both live and work in Four Points. Local 3M employees include engineers, and research and development, marketing, and supply chain positions.
There are also former 3M employees at the site currently. Corning Inc.’s acquisition of 3M’s communication markets division was mostly complete a year ago in June of 2018. The staffers associated with the CMD division are said to be moving to the former Walmart site off of RM 620 called Preserve at 620.
Further affecting 3M’s presence in Austin, the company announced it would close its Northwest Austin manufacturing plant by the end of this year, affecting roughly 120 employees. That announcement was made in October 2018. The 220,000 square-foot plant has been in operation since 1982 at 11705 Research Blvd. 3M will move its Austin-based manufacturing operations to another 3M manufacturing plant in New Ulm, Minn.
As for the Four Points 3M campus, although its chapter is coming to an end as well, it will always have great significance to the Devaneys. They built their lives here and are raising their family in Steiner Ranch because of the proximity to their work at 3M.
“We were here when there was no H-E-B, Target, Home Depot or the vast array of apartment complexes and restaurants that now pepper the Four Points area,” Laura Devaney said.
Within a month, the Devaneys will start to take the daily commute to work at the new 3M location. With two children at Vandegrift and one ending her years at Canyon Ridge Middle School, the couple has no immediate plans to leave their Steiner neighborhood that “they have loved for many years.”