Billingsley, Crescent & KDC Dish on Projects
North Texas has fought for years to get big companies. Now, some of the busiest developers in the Metroplex tell us we're finally attracting the big California companies. Here’s what we learned from Billingsley, Crescent & KDC.
There are 360 people moving to North Texas every day to follow the jobs, says KDC SVP Bill Guthrey (left, with Real Estate Networking Group’s Al Sanford). That’s part of the appeal of North Texas, he told us at Bisnow’s Dallas Construction and Development event Tuesday. There are also more college-educated people in the workforce here (30% today vs 11% 30 years ago), he says. And, people are the driving force in development today.
Bill says the massive State Farm project was HR-driven more than real estate-driven. State Farm’s HR team has a vision for how people want to work and that is on a DART line with a walkable area; employees have their laptop in a backpack and instead of collaborating around a boardroom table, they’re in restaurants or outdoor seating areas working around their laptops, he says. That’s what State Farm felt they needed to attract and retain talent. Here’s the panel: moderator, Adolfson & Peterson Construction SVP Corbett Nichter; Crescent managing director John Zogg; Billingsley Co SVP Marijke Lantz; and Bill.
Marijke (right, with Telios’ Deb Kirksmith, The Carter Group’s Lea Yaest, AG&E Structural Engineering’s Sanjay Agrawal) says she’s never seen a real estate cycle like this one. Previously, it was all about the building and today it's all about HR and amenities to get the brightest employees (and keep them). Today, HR reps are at the table from the very first meeting whereas in previous cycles, she never saw HR at any meetings. Younger employees want to work in a 24-hour environment where they can come and go, she says. They want retail around and they want to live close to work. Also, workspace goes around the four walls of the building (just picture all the people you see with laptops at Klyde Warren Park.)
John says The Crescent is already reaping the benefits of leasing to the law and ad firms that are servicing those big relos to the north, noting that two leases were the direct result of corporate relocations to DFW. He’s also in the midst of a more than $30M transformation to make Crescent’s Uptown properties more walkable. He says it’s easy to do with new construction like McKinney & Olive, but more of a challenge for the longstanding Crescent. The idea is to create more of a streetfront experience with no gates and a green space, among other things.