StoryBuilt in flux amid financial meltdown

Austin-based resi developer furloughed much of its staff

StoryBuilt co-founders Ryan Diepenbrock and Anthony Siela
StoryBuilt co-founders Ryan Diepenbrock and Anthony Siela (StoryBuilt; Illustration by The Real Deal)

One of Austin’s most prolific developers is restructuring amid a financial meltdown. 

StoryBuilt, which has been at the helm of numerous mixed-use projects in Austin and a driving force behind the redevelopment of South First Street, has furloughed employees while making leadership changes, the Austin-American Statesman reported

Co-founder Ryan Diepenbrock has stepped down from his day-to-day management duties, and Chad Shepler has resigned from his role as COO and board director. 

StoryBuilt’s board has been handed over to an oversight committee made up of stakeholders, an independent director and Preferred Class A and Common B shareholders, according to a letter to investors from co-founder Anthony Siela.

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Last year, StoryBuilt and Swiss private market investor Partners Group AG formed a $1 billion joint venture with plans to develop 17 projects across the nation, six of them in Austin. It also partnered with IHP Capital Partners on a $44 million deal to fund a mixed-use complex in East Austin. The company is now in financial turmoil after failing to capitalize on its large-scale growth goals.

“As you are aware, StoryBuilt has recently struggled with focused growth, reporting/financial controls and liquidity,” Siela said in the letter. “This has materially affected our performance as a business and our partners.”

StoryBuilt, founded in 2001 as PSW Real Estate, previously had 250 employees. After furloughing much of its staff, the firm expects to have “a vast reduction in headcount with the aim of solely focusing on core development services for our projects and partners,” the outlet reported. 

Moving forward, StoryBuilt will steer clear of “all-in-one” projects in which it oversees every aspect of development, from acquisition to building. The firm will bring in bridge capital to support the company overhaul.

—Quinn Donoghue 

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