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Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With Dreien Opportunity Partners Managing Partner And CEO Sam Ware

This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who are transforming neighborhoods and reshaping cities, businesses and lifestyles.

Dreien Opportunity Partners CEO Sam Ware is at the forefront of some of the most creative redevelopment plays in North Texas, including transforming the 1.8M SF former J.C. Penney headquarters campus and now eyeing the redevelopment of the former Parkland Hospital campus — that deal isn't finalized, but at 1.2M SF, revitalizing the site of John F. Kennedy's death would be the largest hospital redevelopment project in the U.S. 

Dreien was created to purchase, improve and resell existing commercial real estate, according to the Plano-based firm’s website. 

CEO and Managing Partner of Dreien Opportunity Partners Sam Ware

The creative visionary behind it all is Sam Ware, who has spent three decades in commercial real estate. Ware has also been known to share his ideas for housing the city’s homeless in his off time.

Bisnow: What is your favorite part of your job?

Ware: I get to give buildings more life and time.

Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?

Ware:  Pulling weeds [when it was] 105 degrees in Tucson, Arizona, when I was 14 years old.

Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?

Ware: Oil and gas, very similar — risk takers, dreamers … and personalities.

Bisnow: What deal are you proudest of?

Ware: Wow, in my 40th year of this, I would say acquiring the J.C. Penney headquarters and maximizing the building and the land into a world-class work, live and play [campus].

Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?

Ware: 1505 Elm. I was too early and had people involved that didn’t understand the condo market. Great for the buyers, but very bad for my balance sheet.

Dining hall inside The Campus at Legacy West

Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?

Ware: People that are not accountable.

Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?

Ware: I bought a new Tahoe for the first time since 2003. Old Denali had 15 years and 210,000 miles.

Bisnow: What motivates you?

Ware: God giving me all the opportunities to get involved in trophy asset and repurpose.

Bisnow: What advice do you wish you got when you started in CRE?

Ware: I didn’t get much, feast or famine. I learn everything the hard way, sunny days, rainy days, this too shall end. Good times and bad times.

Bisnow: What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?

Ware: I assess risk as 90% known and 10% unknown. We bet the farm with personal guarantees at times. It’s important that everyone wins. When it doesn’t work out that way, it hurts.

Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?

Ware: Nothing. I don’t worry. Actually, when the AC is broken that keeps me up.

Dreien Opportunity Partners CEO Sam Ware

Bisnow: What is your favorite place to visit?

Ware: Jackson, Wyoming. I spent 1989-2002 July and August there, on and off since then.

Bisnow: Outside of work, what are you most passionate about?

Ware: Fly-fishing and helping the homeless. Cooking and learning daily. I am chronic ADHD and have [an] insatiable need for brain fuel, so almost everything interests me.

Bisnow: What CRE trend do you think will have the most impact over the next few years?

Ware: The downsizing of multifamily, the creation of affordable single-family, 600 to 1K SF, in opportunity zones and the accordion effect of the many levels of senior living, assisted living — and integrating all of them in the same building where your address doesn’t have to change as your needs increase. We are outliving our money.  

Bisnow: What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Ware: I am very private. I have some weird eccentric tendencies and sometimes I experience crowd anxiety.

Bisnow: What do you want your legacy to be?

Ware: He made everything. He worked on and made people he worked with better … and my life mattered. I loved and God was proud of me, and I hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”