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Uptown, Downtown, and In Between

Dallas-Fort Worth
Uptown, Downtown, and In Between
Talking UptownLBJ construction, and even social media (with a little bit of trash talk thrown in for entertainment), the star-studded panelists at Bisnow?s Second Annual Real Estate Summit on Monday at the Westin Galleria also threw in their two cents on what the CBD needs to attract tenants.
Crescent's John Zogg
We should all be fans of Downtown Dallas, says John Zogg, managing director of  Crescent Real Estate Equities. John says since 2000, downtown has grown from a mere 250 residents to thousands. Belo Gardens is under construction and occupants are in many previously empty store fronts. However, downtown still has a long way to go when compared to like cities and their CBDs. John says downtown needs 12,000 residents and more retail to increase the vibrancy. ?That will help all of Dallas,? he says. Some tenants have already signed there, like Highland Capital (which inked a deal in the Crescent). A great Uptown also benefits all of Big D, he says, and the city's chance for a real urban environment is right there with the addition of the Woodall Rogers Deck Park breaking down those silos. (Full disclosure: John, as well as the panelists in our next five pics are from companies that sponsor us. But you should still trust their opinion, if for no other reason than they hold microphones like they know what they're talking about.)
Kurz Group Mini
JLL's Steve Everbach
Jones Lang LaSalle regional director Steve Everbach says ?as Downtown goes, so goes Dallas.? He agrees the CBD has come a long way from 10 years ago when it was simply scary to walk downtown. The Merc?s been redeveloped and is 90% leased. There's DART and the Main Street Garden Park, all of that will help. However, he says development is going slower than everyone would like. And, he's befuddled that companies are choosing Uptown at $30/SF rents over properties like Comerica in the CBD at $18 to $20/SF. That wouldn?t make sense anywhere else in the country. But Dallas  loves trends, he says, and Uptown is trendy.
Bob Mohr
Connecting Uptown with the CBD and Arts District via the deck park will make a big impact toward eliminating the dividing line of the two areas, says Mohr Partners chairman/CEO Bob Mohr. While Dallas (along with Austin and Houston) is in the Top 10  US cities in growth, Bob still doesn't see that translating to downtown. ?Wouldn't it have been great to have a couple of stadiums downtown?? he pondered. On LBJ construction, Bob says there's lots of talk and worries over the impact, but he doesn't anticipate an exodus of tenants from the properties around it.
Transwestern's Jack Eimer
Transwestern central region prez Jack Eimer is optimistic about what's going on in the Metroplex. When it comes to talk of development, he says p re-leasing' s going to be the controller in Dallas; that hasn?t always been the case. John agrees that developers are operating smarter today. Crescent has 3.5 acres next to the Ritz in Uptown, and while they're talking to international architects with a vision for a mixed-use development (and even with the backing of Barclays Bank and JP Morgan), that concept won't move forward without an abundance of preleasing and caution.
Ron Holmes
Holmes Firm principal Ron Holmes wondered about the awesome arch that frames Dallas when you're driving south on the Tollway into downtown. Ron, this is for you: it's 400' over the $117M Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. The 11-piece arch is part of the Santiago Calatrava-designed bridge scheduled to open later this year to connect Singleton Boulevard in West Dallas across the Trinity River to Woodall Rodgers in downtown. Steve says the bridge will connect downtown to south of the Trinity River. ?That area in North Oak Cliff is ripe for redevelopment; the problem we have, as a city, is the misguided perception that development south of the Trinity doesn't work or will never work. It's beautiful and they want development." Other attributes: reasonably inexpensive land, but no supply driver right now. The hope is that the bridge will help and as the demand in downtown spreads out, it will make it go south.
Kevin Brands
When it comes to the trends that Dallasites love, Holt Lunsford Commercial managing principal Kevin Brands says he sees social media on the forefront, especially with the younger professionals in the industry. This will  change CRE dramatically, he says. From the use of iPads to how properties are marketed, Kevin says he anticipates the elimination of hard copy marketing materials because with a few keystrokes, a tenant who wants 10k SF and wants an office building between Belt Line and 190 on the Tollway with wooden lobby features, five offices, a break room and three conference rooms can find those options and check 'em off.
Steve Everback, Jack Eimer, John Zogg, Bob Mohr, Kevin Brands, Ron Holmes
Bob agrees: ?Look at Bisnow,? he says (and we agree with that). Things are moving from paper to digital more and more. Instead of brochures, there are zip drives. Technology has changed how people communicate locally and nationally. Jack says the challenge comes in the form of information overload. There are good quality blogs and Internet input, but you're spending your morning trying to sort through the best ones to utilize through the day. John says Crescent recently started a Facebook page that features more than just the buildings; it has fun feature information including the story of one of the firm's security guards who's the top fundraiser for his charity of choice. And, Crescent  is going to paperless marketing materials in the next three months, he says.
Christie Clenney, Jim Seal, Nancy Edwards, Kristin Hiett, Claudia Ferrara and Susan Heath
We stopped the IREM folks from their networking just long enough to snap the volunteers and staff including Christie ClenneyJim Seal, Nancy EdwardsKristin HiettClaudia Ferrara and Susan Heath, who tell us that IREM is working with the DFW USO and Dallas MEPS to serve a BBQ lunch to service members departing for the Middle East on May 25 at DFW Airport. The Serve-A-Soldier program is part of IREM's continuing efforts to partner with the DFW chapter of the USO to support the brave men and women of the US military, she says.
Adam Hill and Travis Youngblood
Taking pity on our DFW reporter?s fear of escalators (don't laugh),Adam Hill and Travis Youngblood from Thompson & Knight didn't poke too much fun at her. Instead, they actually shared some news. Adam says he's still seeing new multifamily projects and some new construction working its way into reality, definitely up from a year ago. Travis says clients are inching their way toward expansion in their leases instead of contracting space.
The Kurz Group's Rick and Jeff Kurz
With fresh coffee in hand, we stopped the Rick and Jeff Kurz from our fantastic sponsor Kurz Group. They tell us the June 1 deadline to appeal most CRE values is on their minds. To minimize their property tax exposure, owners need to act. The 2011 'Notice of Proposed Values' has mailed, the clock is ticking, and property taxes continue to be the largest operating expense for most property owners.
Cassidy Turley's Johnny Johnson
He didn't break into a rap, but Johnny Johnson from sponsor Cassidy Turley did take the mic to talk about the firm's expansion(Capstar joined Cassidy Turley earlier this year). He says the merger provides opportunities to better serve existing clients and expand geographically by leveraging Cassidy Turley's capital markets, tenant rep, and corporate services platforms.
George Mifflin Dallas
By the way, congrats to Mary Beth Shapiro of Republic Title (whom we plucked from the crowd of 650). She won a lunch for correctly answering the following extremely difficult question: James K. Polk's VP, George Mifflin Dallas,  above, is thought to be namesake of the city. What position did his father, Alexander, hold in the James Madison administration? We gave her the following multiple choice: (a) chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; (b) head of the Section 8 Program at HUD; (c) chief of the Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Division of the SEC; or (d) Secretary of the Treasury. How she knew it was (d) amazes us. See all the cool things Bisnowteaches you?