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DALLAS-Washington Mutual Inc., with a national operations hub in North Texas, is holding a letter of intent to buy the 75-acre campus of WorldCom Technologies Inc. in San Antonio, but still has scouts on the ground in Dallas/Fort Worth. The state’s latest sweetheart deal opens the door for WaMu’s first regional operations center to ramp up by year’s end.

A WaMu spokesman tells GlobeSt.com that WaMu is holding a letter of intent to purchase the 275,000-sf, three-building campus at 20855 Stone Oak Pkwy–with 65 acres of vacant land. But, he stresses, the deal’s not done. “We’re leaving all our options open,” he says, hinting some Dallas/Fort Worth locations have caught the financial giant’s eye. “San Antonio certainly is at the top of our list.” The clear advantage to the seven-year-old WorldCom campus, assessed at nearly $27.4 million by Bexar County, is the land could support up to one million sf of office space, he says.

The Clinton, MS-based WorldCom has a skeleton crew in one building, the fallout from the fall from grace as a one-time top employer in the city. A Trammell Crow Co. broker in San Antonio recently was courting tenants for a 135,000-sf building on the campus, quoting $17 per sf plus electric to open talks. But, then along came WaMu. “We never actually saw it officially come up for sale,” says one San Antonio researcher.

The WaMu deal took center stage yesterday at an Austin press conference with Gov. Rick Perry and WaMu chairman and CEO Kerry Killinger, who put San Antonio as the lead horse due to “strong efforts” and “attractive incentives” by the city, county and local economic development group.

The seven-year plan will add 4,200 jobs. The size of the first hiring wave–like the location itself–is still undetermined, the spokesman says.

The regional operations center will be a WaMu first although it does operate several employee centers across the US. The decision comes just two years after WaMu seated its national commercial operations center in 50,000 sf of leased space at 555 Dividend Dr. in Coppell near Dallas.

The spokesman stresses the newest plan isn’t geared toward consolidation of locations. He says WaMu intends to house back office functions in the facility although the team’s still undecided which business lines will be serviced from the hub.

WaMu considered a build-to-suit, but nipped the plan. “We prefer to hit the ground running to get the operation and hiring up and running by the end of the year,” the spokesman says. The Seattle-headquartered WaMu, part of a heated Texas race for branch banks, has more than 240 locations in the state and in excess of 3,500 employees.

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