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Sam Ware's Campus At Legacy West Takes The Next Step: Multifamily Units, Hotels, Restaurants To Come

Sam Ware's Dreien Opportunity Partners pulled plans last year for multifamily units at Dreien's refurbished J.C. Penney corporate headquarters in West Plano prior to a final Plano City Council review of the units.

While this move was widely covered, it was only temporary, Ware told Bisnow in a recent interview at the property, now known as The Campus at Legacy West. 

Dreien intends to resubmit plans for multifamily units near the more than 1.8M SF former J.C. Penney office headquarters that Ware has already redeveloped into a modernized corporate campus.

Sam Ware, CEO of Dreien Opportunity Partners

“It hasn't changed,” Ware said of his plans for multifamily on the site. “It's just taking a little bit longer.”

Ware is a panelist at Bisnow's Dallas State of the Market event June 5.

Dreien already picked two companies to partner with the firm in building multifamily developments: Trammell Crow Residential and Kairoi.

Ware said he intends to resubmit the plans once adjustments are made.

Other parts of Ware's vision for turning the former J.C. Penney campus into a mixed-use development, complete with housing for living nearby, offices for working and hospitality for entertaining, are coming into sharp focus with the upcoming opening of Japanese hotel Miyako on the campus. It is being built on 3.1 acres at the northwest corner of Corporate and Legacy Drive

“We are anxious to have them because it’s also a recruiting tool for tenants that have a high need for hotel rooms,” Ware said.

The Campus at Legacy West lobby area

The next step after Miyako will be the placement of upscale restaurants and eventually multifamily housing units, a second high-end hotel and even senior living, Ware said. 

Dreien is already close to securing quality restaurant brands on-site, with two major players in the space, Hillstone and Truluck's, expressing interest. 

Condos are another distinct possibility.

“There are some very high-end condos being finished up the road on Windrose,” Ware said. “I envision once that's done, there will be someone else that will want to replicate one of those [developments] on this property.”

Housing options could go beyond rental multifamily and condos.

“We envision potentially high-end senior living here and some restaurants around the lake. We are on a good path,” Ware told Bisnow

The site offers incredible walkability, he said.

“You will not have another 100 acres that has the connectivity that the Campus at Legacy West offers in North Texas anytime soon,” Ware said. 

Tenant's employees take part in a group workout inside The Campus at Legacy West.

The campus' walkability stems from its early days as the headquarters for J.C. Penney and the fact that Ware purchased it with the foresight that he could create workplaces, housing and entertainment features that are all connected. 

Dreien completely revamped the former J.C. Penney HQ building. It brightened the interiors of the main building, changing it from Penney's darker 1990s interior color to a modern design with a breezy almost Pacific Coast feel. 

Office tenancy on the premises is already booming. There are two strong existing tenants in J.C. Penney Co. and NTT Data and about 370K SF left of office space. 

Ware expects the remainder of the campus office space to go within the next several months.

“We are about 80% occupied. We think we’ll have possibly one or three more [office] tenants, and we believe we will be 100% occupied by the end of the year,” Ware told Bisnow during a tour of the property.  

Checkout lanes inside The Campus at Legacy Park's food court.

The two office tenants benefit from the existence of a modern on-site food court, a convenience store on the premises, a fitness facility and a massage area. 

Ware, who has a personal passion for cooking and serving quality food, also has a dining area for tenants surrounded by natural light pouring in from numerous ground-to-ceiling windows. 

The food court goes beyond offering a quick lunch. Ware said busy families can simply grab their evening family meals to go. It saves time at the supermarket and offers people strapped for more work-life balance additional time at home. 

Tenant's employees play pool inside The Campus at Legacy West.

Ware's concept is one where the campus itself morphs into a type of community for employees and guests who interact with the site on a daily basis. 

From yoga workouts to pool tables on-site, and a well-stocked store with an automated teller, the campus is a one-stop-shop lifestyle event for tenant's employees. 

Dining hall inside The Campus at Legacy West

The campus is one of Ware's first major Collin County developments, but it won't be his last.

“This is the most I’ve ever owned in Collin County in the last 40 years of doing this,” he said.

“Collin County has just had unprecedented growth and for this opportunity to come up, you can’t predict that. You don’t know what is the next corporate headquarters for sale, or the next company that wants to leave the Metroplex or to expand. You just don’t know, so you have to be ready. I think, unequivocally, there are going to be other situations like this.”

Without giving specifics, Ware said other Plano properties are on his radar. 

“There are other buildings within a mile of this campus that I am looking at for redevelopment.”

The development options for these undisclosed buildings include everything from converting the buildings into alternate uses, targeting them for land values or initiating condo development. 

But nothing is set in stone, and Ware's imagination for seeing unlimited possibilities is just beginning. 

Hear more from Ware and other DFW developers — and a fireside chat with American Airlines executives — at Bisnow's Dallas State of the Market event June 5.

CORRECTION, May 2, 4:30 P.M. CT: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the total square footage of The Campus at Legacy West. That amount has been updated.