MoPac development gets green light to replace N. Austin event center

German, Austin investors team up for ambitious office project

Gerald Kucera has ambitious plans for a commercial development near the high-profile convergence of MoPac Expressway and U.S. 183.

Through a separate investment company, Eurus Capital Partners, Kucera — founder of Austin real estate firm The Kucera Co. — and partner Nikolaus Hensel of Frankfurt, Germany, have purchased the Atrium Office Center at 8701 N. MoPac Expressway and plan to build a 100,000-square-foot office building, dubbed “MoPac Centre” nearby at 8611 N. MoPac Expressway.

Hub Properties Trust, an entity created by Equity Commonwealth, sold Eurus Capital Partners the 121,000-square-foot Atrium Office Center in August for an undisclosed price. Public records show that PlainsCapital Bank provided a loan for $14.8 million toward the purchase price.

Kucera said Eurus Capital Partners — a separate entity from Kucera Co. — is constructing major upgrades to the Atrium, including a new roof, new elevators and a renovated lobby.

Concurrently, Eurus is moving ahead on MoPac Centre, which will be built on the former Shoal Crossing Events Center. It’s in the process of demolition.

“We owned that property for quite some time as an investment,” Kucera said, noting that the building has had several incarnations over the years. It once was The Barn restaurant and then Harold’s Outlet Barn, a retail store. For the past five years, it’s been an event center. Kucera said he purchased the remainder of the lease from the operators of the events center in order to move forward on the office development.

The assemblage of Atrium Office Center with the adjacent parcel could net an additional 100,000-square-foot office building at some future time. The overall idea, Kucera said, is to build a more comprehensive office park or corporate campus environment.

“There’s a lot of value add [opportunity] in the land area. We’ve always specialized in infill along MoPac,” he said.

Hefty portfolio

Over the years, Kucera brokers have managed and leased about 3.5 million square feet of commercial space near MoPac and Capital of Texas Highway; some of it on behalf of its own properties and some for other investors.

He and Hensel go back many years, he said, and the creation of Eurus Capital as a separate investment entity just made sense.

“We needed to get independent entities and identities because it was cumbersome to try to explain,” Kucera said.

It was through Kucera’s involvement in the commercial sector that he began working with German investors, including his current partner Hensel. Eurus Capital Partners is primarily designed to handle the investments of the Kucera and Hensel families, he explained.

The Kucera Cos., however, will handle management and leasing for the new project. Kucera Cos. managed and leased the Atrium on behalf of Equity Commonwealth through its entity Hub Properties Trust for years and will continue to do so to provide a seamless transition.

I had reported that the new development was called 8611 MoPac, which was a working name, and that it would be primarily for medical users. Kucera and Max Appling with Kucera Cos. said the latest plan is much more inclusive.

“We are primarily targeting general office users,” Appling noted. “That said, our parking ratio will allow us to also accommodate medical users so we’re marketing to that segment as well.”

MoPac Centre, they said, will have 457 parking spaces.

STG Design is the architect and White Construction will build MoPac Centre.

Groundbreaking could occur as early as next month, Kucera said.

Though Kucera’s name is strongly identified with commercial development, he was the key person behind the assemblage of land for the subsequent development of Steiner Ranch — the vast 4,600-acre master planned community near Lake Travis.

Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Kucera specialized in loan workouts with Resolution Trust Corp. — the government entity that was created to deal with thousands of properties across that U.S. that were thrust into limbo during the savings and loan crisis.

“We bought the core piece (of Steiner Ranch) in 1991,” Kucera said.

A year later, he obtained the remaining parcel, negotiating with various parties and the Steiner Ranch family, and today, Steiner Ranch is almost totally built out.

Source: Austin Business Journal
Jan Buchholz, Senior Staff Writer

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