Developers to make pitch to shape McKalla Place without a stadium

Capella’s two plans include MLS stadium; others don’t.

For weeks developers have poked holes at Precourt Sports Ventures’ proposal to build a Major League Soccer stadium at McKalla Place, all the while suggesting they were brushed aside in the process.

Tuesday the developers will have their day before the City Council in a special called meeting, and this time they will take on each other, trying to convince members that they have the best vision for the long-dormant, city-owned North Austin property.

Six mixed-use proposals were submitted to the city by five sources, only one includes an MLS stadium at McKalla.

Ultimately, the council will have to choose between the developers, PSV or none of the above. The council, if sharply divided, could keep the status quo at the 24-acre site near the Domain and kick the can down the road.

Anthony Precourt, owner/operator of Columbus Crew SC, and the league expect an answer at Thursday’s council meeting. They have been exploring a move to Austin for nearly 10 months, and they already have delayed their timetable.

Item 19 on Thursday’s agenda would authorize negotiation of agreements with Precourt. Item 75 is an executive session discussion of real estate and legal matters involving an MLS stadium. Addendum item 109 calls for council discussion and possible action on all plans submitted for McKalla Place.

The six proposals are:

  • Capella Capital Partners, which began pursuing McKalla Place in 2016, rolled out two initiatives. Capella stunned many people with its “Option A,” calling for a collaborative effort with Precourt and Circuit of the Americas chairman Bobby Epstein to build the MLS stadium at COTA. Epstein is on board with that; Precourt is not. “Option B” would incorporate the MLS stadium at McKalla Place amid retail, a family-use development, a hotel and other amenities. Capella is an Austin-based real estate firm.
  • Whitfield & Chen propose a McKalla District with a park-like feel in a 54-page vision document chock full of renderings, charts and graphics. They emphasize green zones and have components that include affordable housing (as do most), office space, grocery, educational space, studio/artisan space and a wellness center. They also would build a new Capital Metro rail station. Marcus Whitfield and John Chen are Austin-based real estate developers.
  • Land Design Studio and Forge Craft Architecture and Design introduced Our McKalla Station. It would include 2.6 million square feet of office space, 100,000 square feet of retail, a 250-room hotel and 1,500 multi-family units that include affordable housing. A youth soccer field and urban gardens also are on the grounds. Land is an Austin-based design studio that has done brand work for multiple retailers. Forge Craft has designed multiple mixed-use Austin tracts including South Lamar’s Bridges on the Park.
  • North Austin resident Marisa Pier Perryman’s proposal to “Keep McKalla Weird” provides goals and mission statements to develop green space, enhance the environment and promote live music and cultural arts. It lacks financial numbers and business ties.
  • Capital Commercial Investments offered $17.75 million for the property but did not disclose its plans. CCI seeks to invest in “undervalued, mismanaged, and undercapitalized properties” per its website.

With its “Option A” Capella would purchase the land for $22.1 million or lease it for $750,000 a year and offers to build eight youth soccer fields around the city and provide $250,000 toward youth soccer scholarships. With “Option B” Capella pledges a $11 million purchase price or an 80-year lease at $400,000 annually for the non-MLS stadium acreage.

Whitfield & Chen offered $22.5 million for McKalla or a $2.5 million a year lease with an escalator clause. Land Design would lease the land for $600,000 per year in an 80-year arrangement.

Both Capella and Land Design call for high-density development.

Land Design introduces the concept of a special purpose district that would collect the equivalent of property taxes to redistribute to area non-profits. Over a 40-year span that total could reach approximately $1 billion, according to Gary Bellomy, founder of Land Design Studio.

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