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FBI raids offices of major Austin real estate investor

World Class purchased eye-popping amounts of commercial property in past decade

Large, two-story Victorian style building with large porch and verandas and ornate iron railings, white brick or limestone.
The Hirschfield House at 303 West Ninth Street, where FBI officials raided the offices of World Class Holdings Wednesday
Larry D. Moore, Creative Commons license

The FBI raided offices of one of Autin’s most prolific commercial real estate buyers and developers, the Austin Business Journal and NBC affiliate KXAN reported Wednesday.

Federal investigators were at downtown offices of World Class Holdings on Ninth and Lavaca streets Wednesday morning, according to the reports and visited a Frost Bank Tower office that housed the company until May as well.

Nate Paul, owner of World Class, founded the company in 2007 and has the drawn attention of the local commercial real estate community by purchasing large amounts of property in the city, according to the Journal. World Class, which started out with investment in self-storage facilities, had $1.2 billion in assets by 2017, according to a 2017 Forbes article linked by ABJ. The Forbes article estimated Paul’s net worth at $800 million.

The Austin Business Journal, which ran a profile of Paul in 2017, reported in February that he “boast[ed] of controlling 1.2 million square feet in 12 buildings in every Austin submarket” and that he was planning to launch a WeWork competitor called NowSpace, to be the “largest provider of flexible office space in the city,” according to Paul.

WeWork currently has 496,000 square feet of space in seven Austin locations, including 48,000 square feet in the new SXSW Center near the Texas State Capitol.

Paul told ABJ that he planned to renovate the historic Phillips Building on downtown’s Fifth Street into flexible office space as part of his plan for NowSpace.

KXAN reported that Paul’s property at 99 Trinity Street faced foreclosure in May. Other high-profile downtown properties World Class has invested in include the IHOP site at IH-35 and East Cesar Chavez Street near the Austin Convention Center and the former Carmelo’s restaurant site at 504 East Fifth Street.

Frost Bank Tower

, , TX 78701