AMD Move: Discuss Amongst Y’alls Selves

amd_watershed.jpgThe back-and-forth between AMD and its critics continues. Last week, AMD issued an email justifying its move to Southwest Parkway under the aegis of environmental stewardship and traffic reduction. Yesterday, the folks at Austin Action responded in kind by deconstructing AMD’s rationale.

The gist of the discussion is that AMD’s claims may be overstated (environmental and water quality sensitivity) or unsupported (traffic abatement), but nor are they outright fabrications. While this move is self-serving, it should be recognized that AMD is taking steps to moderate their impact over and above what other development efforts have and will continue to do. Whether these are sufficient to protect the long-term health of Barton Creek and the surrounding areas is uncertain, although it certainly increases the risks for degradation.

This issue also raises a number of questions in my mind that have yet to be addressed publicly by AMD, the City of Austin, or other interested parties.

  • What’s happening to the current AMD campus(es)? The Spansion spin-off will likely stay east, but what about the other buildings? Are we going to have yet another under-utilized business / industrial park sitting around while everyone scrambles to pave the recharge zones? It seems reasonable to tie western development with assured usage of existing facilities.
  • Once upon a time, the city was successful encouraging east side development. But plopping down facilities doesn’t help if all the employees live west and ultimately insist that their latest big penis project get built closer to 1022 McMansion Lane. Doesn’t this demonstrate an abject failure of the city’s economic development vision for East Austin, or complete lack of one?
  • Why didn’t AMD take over the Intel skeleton? It’s more central than either old or new locations, and who wouldn’t love the PR coup of rejeuvenating a symbol of your competitor’s failure?
  • Is this really a sound business decision? Surely a company like AMD who: a) operates in an intensely competitive environment with shrinking margins; b) is outspent on R&D and marketing by orders of magnitude by Intel; and c) only recently reversed years of losses, has better things to invest in than an executive suite in the hills?
  • What is Austin Action’s response to the AMD / Stratus proposal to invest $5 million in open space? I’m as suspicious as anyone of such developer-led initiatives, but it seems like a reasonable opportunity to protect land resources.
Any insight on these issues, other than a pissing match over impervious cover percentages?

3 Comments so far

  1. omit (unregistered) on May 25th, 2005 @ 10:15 am

    The Intel building idea would be cool, and I’m sure some large company or real estate developer is going to snap it up eventually, but I don’t think AMD would fit into that kind of a spot. They are more of a Silicon Valley type of company that likes to reside in an office park/campus with large parking garages and multiple buildings (usually. I haven’t researched this too much.). From what I’ve read, the compound will be very close to the AMD CEO’s house (not that that is a significant factor). I think what we see here is a company throwing a lot of money at something to achieve its own ends. Though it’s not prohibited from developing by the SOS ordinance (it’s grandfathered land that could be developed for other things like a big box complex), AMD is openly flouting an unwritten code of large companies not developing near the recharge zone. But it was bound to happen anyway. I don’t know if there’s any way to discourage further development in that area. East Austin is going to get its share of development as well. Barring a major oil crisis, Austin is fated to be sprawled out like Atlanta.

  2. antor (unregistered) on May 25th, 2005 @ 11:46 am

    The Intel site is earmarked for the new federal courthouse, all in good time. The most use it has seen since abandonment is as an armature for a banner advertising whatever the Laguna Gloria arts fest calls itself since it moved downtown. While it’s standing there doing nothing, I think that some wire netting should be put up along the open sides, that sanitary facilities, stairways, and elevators should be installed, and that it should be used for parties and for open-air dormitories.

  3. M1EK (unregistered) on May 26th, 2005 @ 8:01 am

    Austin Action’s comments about the ridiculous nature of the 10-mile-employee-commute-circle are absolutely right-on. A downtown location for AMD would probably capture 80% or more of AMD’s employees within the magic 10-mile circle; 58% simply isn’t that impressive.

    This move is about two things: getting a shiny new complex to impress Californian visitors, and getting closer to the CEO’s home in the Barton Creek neighborhood.

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