Old 3M now Highpoint 2222 opens to public after 37 years 

The former 3M Innovation Center has been transformed into a focal point at Highpoint 2222 by Karlin Real Estate LLC. Photo by Lynette Haaland, Four Points News

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

Highpoint 2222 – the former 3M campus in Four Points – had a coming out party last week as it opened to a large gathering on February 22. For three decades, 3M had a closed campus with tight security so last week’s reveal was a milestone. 

Austin Mayor Kirk Watson was the keynote speaker to hundreds of invited guests. There was a panel discussion covering research and development in Central Texas, and campus tours were given.

Built in 1987, the 1.1 million-square-foot campus sits on 156 acres at RM 2222 and River Place Boulevard. 

Los Angeles-based Karlin Real Estate LLC acquired the site in 2021 and named it Highpoint 2222. 

Crews are expected to finish in late summer after two years of massive construction including an interior and exterior demolition and installation of a glass curtain wall system across the buildings. The old 3M innovation center is slated to become a 58,000-square-foot amenity hub with health, wellness, food and beverage.

Bart Olds, managing director at Karlin Real Estate LLC, in front of a wall with thousands of Post-it Notes — a nod to the site’s 3M history — during the February 22 event at Highpoint 2222.
The 156-acre campus is at RM 2222 and River Place Boulevard. 
Photo by Lynette Haaland, Four Points News

Four Points News interviewed Bart Olds, managing director at Karlin, at the reveal event. Here are the questions and answers. 

Q. What role do you want life science to play here at Highpoint 2222?

  • The exciting thing about the project is that it was purpose-built with a lot of the infrastructure to be life science. I think my boss Matt Schwab (Karlin co-founder) says it best that it really has the opportunity to not only have a massive impact regionally, but even globally because it’s such a large mass of purpose-built R&D, life science. It could be life science. It could be R&D. It could be manufacturing. It just has a very robust infrastructure in the building to lend itself well to a lot of different types of things.

Q. Regarding infrastructure, what are some of the assets of the campus?

  • Live loads in the building are very strong, so it can handle heavy equipment and not have vibrations for sensitive instruments. It has its own power plant, so it has the ability to produce its power off the Austin Energy grid. And then it also has the vertical penetrations through the building to allow utilities to travel through the building and to most importantly to exhaust the air into the air up on the roof.

Q. Any tenants secured yet?

  • No. We’re actively marketing the deal with Stream Realty so there’s a lot of informational tours and really we’re working on raising the awareness of the project. It had been a closed campus for 40 years, no one’s ever been in. So this is really the start of our reveal to the public. 

Q. I know there’s housing and apartment units in the blueprints. What can you say about that? How many units are we looking at? What is the timeline of that?

  • We don’t know yet. We’ve been working very closely with the CONA board to kind of go through and do as best as we can, balancing the wants and the needs of the community with the wants and needs of a real estate investor. And so we’re really trying to listen to the community and be very thoughtful in our approach about what we’re going to reveal, but we haven’t made any decisions right now.

Q.  When would you know about that piece of it? It has been out there and the community wants to know?

  • We certainly will be sharing the information this year. Hopefully in the first part of this year, but I’ll commit 100% to 2024. But we’re doing all we can to kind of push that alone, but also being respectful of such a beautiful site. You know, the last thing you want to do is create The Domain here. It’s a very special site. It’s a very beautiful site and we want to embrace the natural ecology on the site and really preserve a lot of what’s here, but with respectful development.

Q. With the high vacancy rate of office spaces in Austin, does that concern you at Highpoint 2222?

  • There is a lot of office space that’s available and coming on the market in Austin. The interesting thing about this building is we don’t look at it as an office building, we look at it as a building to support innovation science. It’s a little hard to do laboratory and research and development from your home, which has driven a lot of the office vacancy with the work from home. And so we are excited about the opportunities to give people laboratory space and research and development space here, that doesn’t necessarily compete with a high rise downtown or suburban office building.

Q. We finally got our roadways fixed in Four Points after a lot of years of bottlenecking. Are you all looking at ways to mitigate traffic jams in the years ahead?

  • Absolutely. We are fully committed to do a traffic impact analysis for any new development that is out here. And then we would do everything we can to kind of help mitigate. We have previously let Vandegrift High School run their buses through the campus. We stopped that during construction just for safety. But as soon as we’re back in the safe spot, we’ll continue to let them go. I control a 156-acre piece so I’m certainly part of the puzzle and we’re all for reducing traffic and impact to the community. But you know I only have so much control over the situation, but it’s got to be a community effort for all of us to kind of chip in and find ways to better utilize the roadways that we have and improve roadways. 

Q. What do you envision to be different at Highpoint 2222 within the next year? Are we going to see tenants moving in?

  • We certainly would love to see some tenants move in. It would probably take them about a year, give or take a month or two, to actually get built out. So we’re hopeful that construction would continue out here after we’re done with the base buildings, because that means a tenant’s getting ready to move in. But we would love to see a tenant kind of open up and people start working here in the year 2025 or 2026, I think that’s realistic.