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Todd Interests CEO Shawn Todd: East Quarter Is On Track, But My Focus Is On People

Todd Interests CEO Shawn Todd had already jumped headfirst into the old East Quarter district in Downtown Dallas when what is shaping up to be one of the worst U.S. downturns in recent history hit.

Downtown Dallas is seeing commercial activity pick up heading into the new year.

The adaptive reuse, mixed-use project launched two years ago when Todd Interests scooped up early 20th century automobile showrooms and began transforming them into modern office and retail product.

The development entails the creation of 200K SF of office, 25K SF of retail and a luxury residential apartment building with 336 units in an older part of downtown that's coming back to life. 

The visionary behind the project, Shawn Todd, told the audience of a Bisnow Town Hall event Thursday that the coronavirus-related slowdown has not impacted the East Quarter project. 

But Todd said what bothers him the most during this unprecedented economic time is not what happens to his project, but to the community living around it.

Todd said his team is looking at all of the available data and trying to show a great deal of empathy toward others while doing a great deal of listening. 

He noted that some of the canaries in the commercial real estate coal mine during this downturn, or any economic downturn for that matter, are those in the architecture and design fields. Those groups often feel the pain first as new projects stop. 

Todd said he's remaining mindful of those impacted and encouraging his team to put human issues, transparent communication and relationships above all else.  

"We are being patient and paying attention," Todd said. "We have some dry powder so to speak. We have had a lot of phone calls with people."

Todd Interests' CEO Shawn Todd and Bisnow Vice President Tyler Fisher.

While the East Quarter District project remains on track, Todd said he expects fewer new starts right now in the market while banks focus more on quality during this time of uncertainty.

"You will see some reduction in pricing and a much smaller group of new starts," Todd said.

He's also a firm believer that no matter what happens, Downtown Dallas remains a destination for office and multifamily developers. 

"You get a lot of bang for your buck if you are in a high-rise in Downtown Dallas," he said. In those areas, quality office product still falls within the mid-$20s and $30s range. 

Todd also sees mixed-use development surviving the coronavirus and believes individuals in the future will want everything they need within walking distance of their homes. 

"People are going to want to be part of the mixed-use ... environment that has office, dining, retail and hospitality as close by as possible," Todd said.