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Go North Young Man: Former Dallas Cowboy, CRE Exec Darren Woodson Bets On Collin County

It has been a long time since former Dallas Cowboys football player Darren Woodson graced the AstroTurf as a professional football player, but in his new role as partner at commercial real estate firm ESRP, he’s going long on Collin County

ESRP's Steve Jarvie interviews Darren Woodson.

Woodson sees ESRP’s Frisco location as a key real estate play with so much development happening north of Dallas in Collin County. 

“When [you] hit that epicenter of [Highway 121] and the North Dallas Tollway … and you see the growth of 150,000 daytime jobs in the Legacy area, you can’t tell me we didn’t make the right decision in moving [ESRP] up to The Star in Frisco,” Woodson said. 

Woodson and ESRP’s Steve Jarvie spoke to a crowd of CRE professionals at Bisnow’s State of the Office Market event in Dallas Tuesday, and both are high on Collin County.

Based on what the tenants he represents are looking for, Woodson sees more growth north as inevitable.

“They are looking for different variabilities — walkability, egress and job availability,” Woodson said. “In the last year, DFW has absorbed 4M SF. If this is a Cowboys game, we are in the playoffs right now. This is an exciting time.”

Jarvie said exponential growth in the North Dallas suburbs now mirrors that of Orange County near Los Angeles a few decades ago. 

“We’ve done a lot of studying, comparing Collin County to Orange County 15 to 20 years ago,” Jarvie said. “It’s a very similar transition that’s occurring that way. Commute times are now being measured from Prosper and Celina to Legacy … no longer to Downtown [Dallas]. So folks that are moving out there no longer consider themselves a part of the Dallas community, it’s really Collin County.”

Jarvie also noted Plano's Legacy community now has more daytime jobs than Downtown Fort Worth and is projected to bypass Downtown Dallas in job numbers by 2021. 

In the event’s opening keynote, Woodson also discussed his formula for success and the humility he tapped into when transitioning from football player to ESPN football analyst and then commercial real estate executive. 

“The learning curve has been tremendous, and the one thing I can always say to any young broker is have someone who is going to hold you accountable,” Woodson said. “I have about 53 people that hold me accountable each and every day.”

Few may have understood his midlife career change to CRE, but Jarvie said he had been asking Woodson to join the CRE community for years. 

Woodson said the best skill he brings to the profession is one honed during many years in the NFL. 

“I would say teamwork,” he said. “There’s a part of me that since the age of 7 years old where I've been associated with some kind of team ... whether it be little league, Pop Warner, basketball or baseball. I retired from the NFL when I was 36 and that’s all I ever knew was team, team, team.”