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Rebuilding To Stay Relevant


At last week's ULI North Texas' breakfast forum, E Smith Realty's Susan Arledge; Mesquite's director of economic development, Tom Palmer; and Hermansen Land Development's Kirk Hermansen spoke about reinvigorating older buildings and bringing "new life to old bones." We compiled the key takeaways. 

Your business can't afford to be in a loser location.

Millennials will eventually be the only generation of employees in the workforce. And they're particularly particular about how they live/work/play, which is causing businesses to think twice about where they plant roots. Susan says Dallas is the fourth-highest hub for Millennial transplants (behind New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco). Retaining talent in your business is more critical than ever before (since Millennials change jobs every 1.9 years on average) and they won't stick around for an hour commute to a sleepy suburb with no experiential after-work options. Even if the price is right and the office building is appealing, first ask yourself if your employees will want to work there.

Play to the strengths of your city.

The City of Mesquite has ramped up efforts to re-skin many buildings with a Community Appearance Manual dictating how buildings must adapt when pushing for a remodel or expansion. But Mesquite knows it is not about to overtake Uptown as the trendiest place for Millennials to live/work/play. Instead, Mesquite is playing to its strengths as a transportation hub—and it's working. The demolition of Big Town Mall made way for FedEx to claim an industrial building on the spot. FedEx will be close to several major highways, Mesquite Metro Airport and—best of all—far from traffic found on the other side of the Metroplex. 

If residents aren't happy, no one is happy.

Kirk's Richardson Restaurant Park is about 30 days out from completion of Buildings 1 and 2. But the road to success looked more like a roller coaster for Hermansen Land Development. After a failed vote from Richardson's planning commission influenced by unhappy residents, Kirk and his team tried a different approach. They created neighborhood committees to hear residents' concerns about the park. They listened to these residents' critiques and comments, then used them to improve their plans.

We snapped moderator Carl Pankratz from Hunt Mortgage, Susan, Tom and Kirk at the event.