TRS board authorizes negotiations for new headquarters

The Teacher Retirement System’s trustees on Friday unanimously passed a resolution authorizing Executive Director Brian Guthrie to enter into negotiations for long-term planning of a new TRS headquarters. TRS has outgrown its facilities at 1000 Red River in downtown Austin, representatives for the system say. It has occupied its current building for nearly 50 years, and Guthrie said the agency is simply out of space.

The agency will begin negotiations with finalists on a new campus outside the downtown business district. It also will solicit bids for leasing the Red River location as an investment for the pension fund. And it will evaluate whether it makes sense to keep the Investment Management Division in leased space in the Indeed Tower or move the division to the new headquarters. The staff also is exploring opening regional offices in some areas of the state to reach more members closer to where they live.

TRS is one of the few agencies with a constitutional requirement to prudently manage its assets held in trust in accordance with applicable fiduciary principles. In other words, any space management solution must produce favorable gains for the trust fund and its members, a point the board made clear in approving this preliminary step. TRS has studied whether to renovate the current building, a prohibitively costly option, or move out of downtown, a much less-expensive option.

Assuming negotiations are successfully completed and the board gives final approval, construction on a new headquarters would be expected to begin in spring of 2021. By early 2023, TRS expects construction to be completed and a certificate of occupancy obtained.

TRS has more than 700 employees serving more than 1.6 million members, and both numbers will continue to grow. Guthrie called this relocation plan a “generational solution” to the agency’s need for more space.