Close Up With Randy Heady
Randy Heady pocketed a $6 commission on his first lease in '71. (Back then you could get a full tank of gas for that.) This month, the Dallas legend broke ground on the 170k SF Frisco Bridges Place, adding to a career total of 2M SF of developed commercial space across the city.
We sat down with Randy, head honcho at Heady Investments and a walking history of Dallas commercial real estate, to learn about his illustrious career. He started in ’71 setting up the office division for Hank Dickerson & Co Realtors. After launching Heady Investments in '77, he started buying land in anticipation of the Tollway extension. But, one of his first projects was developing the first spec building in the Las Colinas Office Center (which Motorola fully occupied) in ‘79, as well as the first office building on Central Expressway north of Arapaho (pre-leased at 50% prior to construction and filled before completion) for Phillips Coal’s world HQ.
Here's Randy receiving the top salesman award from Hank during his tenure there in the early '70s. After starting his own firm, development came fast and furious and leasing was bloody, with trophy towers like Bill Criswell’s Fountain Place (designed by IM Pei) leasing for $12.50/SF full-service, he says. (Five-year leases came with 22 months of free rent, too.) Amid the blood bath, Randy sold the 172k SF Chateau Plaza for $140/SF cash. (The folks at Republic Bank told him it was the only commercial loan paid off in full in their entire portfolio in ‘87.) “We were fortunate to get away,” he tells us, because there was no development going on between ’86 and ’94.
In ’96 came the start of the 1M SF Parkway Center project with buildings I, II, III, IV, and V (100% leased) and a slew of new deliveries for the company. Randy likes to play strictly on the toll road these days. With the advent of Legacy Town Center in the ‘90s, phenomenal growth was triggered. But, everyone quit building in ’08, yet Randy kicked off Headquarters 1 (pictured) in ’11 (opening in '13) in Legacy Town Center. “Everyone thought we were crazy, but we knew we’d come out of the recession and there wouldn’t be enough space,” Randy tells us. He already has the land for Headquarters 2 on the northeast corner of Headquarters and the Tollway, but no construction start date yet.
Randy (right, with colleague Mark Lewis, who oversees all the leasing) says the Toyota deal in Legacy is pushing rents up and support companies are already moving to the area like Project Worldwide, an advertising firm with a Toyota account. Examples of growth: The advertising firm is vacating the 5,000 SF it occupies on the ground floor of Headquarters 1 and expanding into 13k SF on the top floor. (That ground-floor space is already filled—with no discounts and at a higher rental rate; the building's 95% occupied.) At Parkway Center V, a CPA firm that started with 5,000 SF in ’03 next door, just expanded its lease to 70k SF. “I don’t think we’re overbuilding," he says. People want to be in Legacy and there is no land left.” Granite is the only developer along the Tollway with room to develop more office space. Granite is pushing rents to $35/SF and Trammell Crow Co (which has new space in Legacy) is pushing rents to $41/SF. Banks have gotten smarter and required at least 35% equity, which will keep a lid on development, he says.
Here’s Randy and his crew at the groundbreaking for Frisco Bridges Place at the southeast corner of Gaylord Parkway and the Dallas North Tollway. The project (slated for an early 2016 completion) is already 25% pre-leased with Strasburger & Price occupying 40k SF. Randy’s son, Sayres (who recently joined the firm) and Mark will oversee leasing. Away from work, Randy likes to hit the links and get away with the family to his 850-acre ranch just north of Bonham in Yuba, where he gets on the John Deere and mows the property to relax. He was a member of the Texas Silver Spurs during his tenure at UT and captain of the high school golf team.