Here’s what tenants pay at Frost Bank Tower

One of downtown Austin’s most iconic towers faces vacancies from key tenants

See What Tenants Pay at Frost Bank Tower
Vista Equity Partners' Robert Smith, Amherst's Sean Dobson, Kirkland & Ellis' Jon Ballis and GVA’s Alan Stalcup with Frost Bank Tower (Vista Equity Partners, The Amherst Group, Kirkland & Ellis, GVA, Getty)

When Cousins Properties developed the Frost Bank Tower in the early 2000s, it took some serious risks. Construction started in Nov. 2001, making it the country’s first skyscraper to start work after the Sept. 11 attacks. Austin’s downtown had just a fraction of the office towers it now does — new, expensive, offices with lots of amenities were the stuff of Dallas, not Austin. Its crown reminded one critic of nose trimmers.

By and large, those risks paid off. The tower, at 401 Congress Avenue, became an icon of the Austin skyline, and three years after topping out, Cousins sold it to Equity Office Properties for $354 per square foot, a record at the time. Lionstone Investments now owns the tower, and 20 years later, it remains almost entirely occupied. But that may change soon. 

The building’s two largest tenants, Vista Equity Partners and the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, are ready to jump ship. In recent years, both have signed sizable leases at the Republic, an under-construction office tower at 401 West 4th Street. They will leave behind a 147,000-square-foot hole in the Frost Bank Tower. Winstead PC’s lease expired at the end of May, leaving another 52,300 square feet open. Factoring in all the leases set to expire by next July, the building would enter summer 2025 around 50 percent occupied if no new tenants fill the gaps. 

Vista’s lease technically expired last year, though it is still operating in the Frost Bank Tower, a phone call to the front desk confirmed. Kirkland’s contract runs out in August 2025. On the tower’s website, some 167,800 square feet of space is listed as either available or soon to be available. 

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

The table above, which reflects data as of January 2023, shows a handful of expired leases, although they have been kept to reflect the holes they will leave in Frost Bank Tower’s rent roll. Monthly rents have been updated to show current rates where rent increases took effect. 

Amherst Holdings, which takes the top floor at the 33-story tower, pays the highest rate at $55.19 per square foot. GVA, a multifamily syndicator that has lost several Texas properties to foreclosure, sits near the top of the building as well, paying $51.01 per square foot for under 4,400 square feet. 

The average rent of $44.69 per square foot stands well below the market average for Class A properties of $58.90, according to Avison Young.

Read more

Jen Weaver Vivid Development Q&A 
Austin’s most important council races for developers: Jen Weaver Q&A
Inside the fallout from Shaya Prager’s “contrarian” 2022 office investments
Associa Buys two DFW Office Buildings for Headquarters
Associa buys HQ buildings in Richardson
Recommended For You