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Why Dallas Dominates the BOMA TOBYs

It wasn’t that long ago that Dallas wasn’t on the international radar for world-class office buildings. But, that is changing. This summer, Dallas earned four BOMA International TOBYs. That’s more than any other city in North America (and the same number as all of Canada). We went behind the scenes with the TOBY winners to learn their secrets.

1. 17Seventeen McKinney


Owner: Granite Properties and Met Real Estate

Managed by: Granite Properties

Category won: 250,000-499,999 SF

Property manager Michele Martin (left, with property assistant Lesia Aguilar) tells us the strength and cohesion of the management team caught the attention of the TOBY judges, who noted that the bond was reflected in the operations of 17Seventeen. The lobby—where we snapped this photo—was a favorite also, she tells us. The floor-to-ceiling glass along the two sides of the lobby provide natural light and a connection to the streetscape. The most unique feature in the lobby is the cluster of 132 hand-blown smoke-white glass tubular lights that hang from the ceiling and hover over the seating area, she says.


We chatted with Bain office services manager Natalie Bentley, who tells us the company’s private balcony on the 17th floor was a big selling point for Bain. The location and amenities (like the view) are a big part of the firm’s recruiting. With 150 employees and an average age of 26, she says it is all about being in a cool part of town. Michele says other amenities the TOBY judges liked were the one-acre park on the seventh floor overlooking the CBD on one side and the Perot Museum on the other, as well as the 22-story LED illuminated glass light panel that runs the entire vertical length of the building. The light lantern is capable of being programmed to display many different colors—solid or mixed, and the option to remain stationary or create a pattern of motions.

2. Hunt Corporate Headquarters


Owner: Hunt Consolidated

Managed by: Hunt Office Management

Category won: Corporate Facility Award

Culture, attention to detail and sustainability measures helped Hunt stand out from the competition, says Hunt Office Management assistant property manager JJ Jones (left, with property manager Ben Tyner and facilities coordinator Logan Bleasdale). The company's culture is one of teamwork, JJ says. One example is the team of employees who volunteer on the art program. The team changes out the artwork (which are photos shot by employees) quarterly to keep the rotation fresh. Additionally, company owner Ray Hunt’s attention to detail included meeting personally with the judges, JJ says. He also played an active role in selecting high-end finishes for the HQ. He wanted them to be as good as what he’d select for his home, JJ says. Ray is also a big fan of the 100 light shows available for the front of the building. Word is that he selects the shows, himself.


JJ tells us this five-story interconnecting stairway (pictured) was a feature that won’t be duplicated anywhere else in the city because building regulations have changed. This feature was grandfathered, he says. Employees have access to a Wolfgang Puck subsidized dining room, which features an overhead ceiling painted to resemble the night sky on Dec. 18, 1934, when the company was founded. The building is intuitive in its green features, too, JJ tells us. It has a light dimmer and shades that automatically go up and down along an entire side of the building at appropriate times. It not only looks nice from the outside, but is more energy efficient, he says. JJ hints that we should expect another TOBY entry from Hunt, which acquired 1807 Ross and is in the midst of upgrades to the building now. It will be entered in the TOBY 100,000 to 249,999 SF category next year.

3. Preston Commons


Owner: KBS Realty Advisors

Managed by: CBRE

Category won: Renovated Building

The three-building Preston Commons has amenities galore from bike check-outs to an on-site car wash, complimentary manicures on Friday and a free shoeshine station. Managing director Darrell Gage and real estate manager Stacia Garvin tell us the property’s boardroom (built in 2011) provides the ultimate environment from high-profile meetings to private events, catered to every business need. In addition to a built-in boardroom table that can seat 14 and be separated from the rest of the room with soundproof sliding wood doors, there is also a fully equipped bar for catering and service, a congregation area, three flat-screen TVs, and personalized wine lockers.  


Stacia says the traffic and parking in Preston Center at times can be challenging, so when KBS purchased the property, the ownership also purchased a six-person shuttle to transport tenants to and from Preston Center restaurants and shopping at their convenience. Security runs the shuttle from 11 to 2 daily. The shuttle picks up right outside the East Tower roughly every 10 to 15 minutes and has the ability to drop off at the more than 60 restaurants within the area. She also tells us the fitness center is top of the line and features free Fitness on Demand, an innovative video delivery systems that offers robust content and a simple-to-use, comprehensive web-management portal at the touch of a button. 

4. Tollway Plaza


Owner: CBRE Global Investors

Managed by: CBRE

Category won: Suburban Office Park (Mid-Rise)

Assistant real estate manager Katy Bennet tells us the TOBY judges liked the 5-Star Program (i.e. complimentary conference center, fitness center and other amenities), the timeless look of the property, and the efficiency of the building systems because of the long tenure of the building engineer. The team: chief building engineer Ben Berry, Katy, assistant director Lori Martin and director of security Cedric Powell.