USAA sublets downtown office while workers stay home

The USAA will sublet parts of its downtown office on Convent Street, as the pandemic-era trend of remote working continues to reshape the city’s office landscape.

“Like many businesses, the pandemic and the shift to hybrid and remote work has changed our real estate needs,” USAA spokesman Christian Bove wrote in an email. “We are proud to be part of the vibrant downtown San Antonio business community and will continue to be there. “

The move, which comes a year after the financial services giant sublet its five-story building on I-10, is pending regulatory approval.

USAA Real Estate Co. purchased the former Bank of America Plaza building in 2017, which it owns as part of a joint venture. The 28-story building is adjacent to the USAA’s River Walk location on St. Mary’s Street. Before the pandemic, up to 1,600 employees worked between sites. Bove said the USAA would retain space to accommodate about 1,000 employees working in a hybrid format.

Since last summer, the company has offered a flexible working policy, and many of the approximately 36,000 USAA employees continue to work remotely at least part of the time.

The policy reinforces the flexibility of what had been an emergency measure during the first shocks of the pandemic last year, when office employers across the country ditched boardrooms for Zoom sessions and office spaces. desktop for Slack. Almost 98% of USAA employees worked entirely from home for almost a year, up from about 20% before the pandemic.

For office employers across the country, remote working and the flexibility to do so can become a permanent fixture. At the very least, it is already becoming a long-term phenomenon.

Bove said in a previous email that the company will continue to “assess and adapt to support our people and the needs of the business” as the impact of the pandemic becomes clearer.

With fewer people in the office, some businesses have found subletting to be an effective way to recoup expenses.

San Antonio has about 1 million square feet of office space to sublet, according to Daniel Khalil, senior market analyst at the new San Antonio branch of CoStar, a real estate market data company. Before the pandemic, the amount of office space for sublet in the city hovered around 300,000 square feet.

“The future of offices has a big question mark,” Khalil said – but at least in San Antonio, the drop in demand due to remote working will likely be offset for the foreseeable future by population growth and office jobs.

According to Cushman & Wakefield, the average office vacancy rate in the city edged down in the third quarter of 2021, reaching 14%. The report also showed that while there is no new office space under construction downtown, just over one million square feet of new office space is being built in the northern quadrants. from the city.

USAA is not among those building new offices.

The Convent Street building, a short distance from his office on St. Mary’s Street, isn’t the only office building he’s trying to sublet, either.

Over the past year, the company has sought to sublet all five floors of its 157,470 square foot property in northern San Antonio called Vista Corporate Center. It was the largest office space to sublet in the third quarter of 2021, according to commercial real estate company CBRE.

The company moved into the sprawling complex just four years ago. A company spokesperson previously said the exploration of this decision predated the pandemic.

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