A former strategist for the Trump campaign’s data team, who leads two local tech companies, has purchased 0.75 acres of property on East Houston Street, across the street from the VelocityTX bioscience incubator on the near East Side, with a partner.
On April 14, a newly-formed company named Concentric Properties bought the land at 1403 E. Houston St., kitty-corner from Tucker’s Kozy Korner, for an undisclosed price, county property records show. The company’s co-manager is Matthew Oczkowski, founder of HUMN Behavior, a locally-based data and behavioral science company which the Trump campaign paid $180,000 for data consulting work in 2020, according to the U.S. Federal Election Commission.
Oczkowski also serves as president of Data Propria, another behavioral science company which has done work for conservative political campaigns. It was launched in 2018 by CloudCommerce, the locally-based e-commerce company which in 2017 purchased part of Brad Parscale’s digital marketing firm for a reported $9 million.
The other manager of Concentric Properties is William Ditto of Midland, co-founder of mineral-buying company Concentric Oil and Gas. Plans for the newly-acquired property are unclear. Neither Oczkowski or Ditto responded to requests for comment.
In his profile for Leading Authorities, a website offering speakers-for-hire, Oczkowski is described as having been the “lead data strategist” for the Trump campaign. Previously, he served as head of product for British political firm Cambridge Analytica before it went bankrupt after a scandal caused by revelations that it had improperly obtained the data of millions of Facebook users, according to Politico.
The property at 1403 E. Houston St. contains a small storage warehouse built in the 1960s. It is across the street from the historic Merchants Ice complex, which the Texas Research and Technology Foundation (TRTF) is spending $227 million to rehabilitate into an open campus for companies in the bioscience sector, with an expectation of creating 645 jobs.
The TRTF finished construction of VelocityTX, in the campus’s northeast corner, early last year, CEO Randy Harig said. It is now building out office space at North Cherry and East Houston for a bioscience company “in the stem cell arena” that is opening a manufacturing facility in San Antonio, he said. He declined to name the company, saying that it is publicly-traded and cannot announce the news until it has been disclosed in filings. The foundation hopes to finish construction of the space by the end of the year, he said.
The TRTF plans to start construction in late June on buildings in the middle of the campus, with a goal of finishing them by early next year, he said. There had previously been plans for a hotel or possibly residential space in the campus, but that is no longer the case, he said. Instead, the foundation is looking to build more office space and a “freezer farm” in which scientific samples could be stored at below-freezing temperatures.
“One of the things we’re looking at is, as companies grow from here, we don’t really have a place for them to go. So a next logical step for us would be to create space that they could move to as they grow to a point where they’re too big for Velocity,” Harig said.
There has recently been a lot of development activity around the property which Oczkowski and Ditto purchased. A couple blocks southwest, a partnership between local commercial giant REATA Real Estate and developer David Adelman is working on plans to remake the St. Paul Square neighborhood into a thriving district of restaurants and entertainment venues.
Harig said he was acquainted with Oczkowski and had heard him express interest in buying property around VelocityTX, but did not know whether he had plans for the land.
Concentric Properties first purchased 0.97 acres, but two weeks later it sold a 0.22-acre plot on Cherry Street, facing VelocityTX, to Merchants Ice LLC, a landowning entity controlled by the TRTF, property records show. Harig said the land was purchased for use as parking.
Employees working in VelocityTX started returning to the space in September after it had shut down in March of last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is now 98% occupied, with eight companies using the space, Harig said.
The foundation is looking for opportunities to buy more land, he said.
“We’re very pleased with our growth. We’re very pleased with what we see is the next 6- to 18-month outlook. So we’re just going to keep our head down and keep going,” he said.
Richard Webner is a freelance journalist covering Austin and San Antonio, and a former San Antonio Express-News business reporter. Follow him at @RWebner on Twitter
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