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DALLAS-Ground breaks today on CUNA Mutual Group’s 108,000-sf customer operations center, the latest in a series of projects totaling nearly $45 million in the Campus at CentrePort. The CUNA project, set to deliver in April 2007, will house up to 700 workers.

“This is a new customer operations center that’s been in the works for the last year internally,” says William Guthrey, senior vice president of locally based Koll Development Co. Boston-based AEW Capital Management LP will own the CUNA development at 4950 Amon Carter Blvd. while Koll is the developer and will be asset manager.

The 1,300-acre CentrePort, now in its 26th year of construction, holds 1.3 million sf representing about $800 million of office/warehouse, office and multifamily product and a 295-room Marriott. This summer, though, has brought the fastest-paced building spurt in four years.

“Activity begets activity,” Guthrey says, citing the under-construction, planned and existing amenity base as the top draw for the Madison, WI-headquartered CUNA, which inked a long-term lease to get the call center project moving. As a result of the stepped-up activity, Koll is adding $3 million of infrastructure to CentrePort, which has absorbed one million sf of office space year to date to push occupancy to 95% and the daytime population count to 25,000.

In September, Sava Group of nearby Irving begins construction on a 142-room Holiday Inn and 172-room Candlewood Suits, both fronting Texas 360. Also in September, Dickerson Development Co. and United Commercial Realty/ChainLinks will break ground on the park’s first large retail concentration.

The mixed-use gateway development, CentrePort Station, will contain 25,000 sf of shop space, four restaurant pad sites and a freestanding Starbucks. “This is really going to be the critical mass that’s needed,” Guthrey says, telling GlobeSt.com that the local retail JV has dibs on an extra land to significantly expand its plan.

CentrePort Station’s retail component will double the size of the park’s existing line-up, which basically consists of delis and sandwich shops in scattered locations. The Dickerson-UCR project will come on line in May 2007 alongside the hotels. Besides Starbucks, the project has garnered commitments from Dickey’s Barbecue Pit and Quizno’s. Guthrey says talks also are under way to include a bank, full-service restaurant and service-oriented businesses to the mix.

Koll has 350 acres remaining in its CentrePort bank. Guthrey says there are proposals out for two build-to-suits and plans in the works to expand the multifamily component, which now boasts 1,500 apartments.

The CUNA project team also includes Mike Kay, Rob Marsh and Chris Hook with CB Richard Ellis Call Center Solutions Group. Corgan Architects and Idea/Span, both from Dallas, teamed on exterior and interior designs for the single-story building. Locally based Cadence McShane Corp. is the general contractor.

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