Up Close With David Baker
Transwestern EVP David Baker is one of the men keeping Four Oaks Place 98% occupied, and he’s hoping to work his magic on 800 Bell, backfilling Exxon’s vacancy. We sat down with the gent who's known as much for his effervescence as his leasing skills.
After graduating from Baylor (where he met his wife, Susan), David became a CPA for KPMG. He quickly realized he needed a more people-oriented business but wanted to use his financial savvy. Real estate was a natural alternative, but it turned out to be an even better fit than he imagined. The hardest deal of David’s career (by a long shot, he says) was leasing up 6222 Richmond with more than 80 jewelers. (Nobody can haggle like a jeweler.) It was the early '90s when there were few large tenants in the market and lots of vacancies, but it ended up being a great fit for the owner, and jewelers were probably the only thing that’d work in that quasi-retail/quasi-office building. Bonus: It was a very international group and David learned a lot about working with different cultures.
David recently brought Loop Central up to 95% occupancy for TIER REIT. (Pictured is the team: Transwestern's Doug Little and Kelli Crutchfield, Behringer Harvard's Joyce Harberson, TIER REIT's Kmeal Winters and David.) The complex had a big block of availability—one building was completely vacant 18 months ago. (It’s 98% leased now.) Despite a lot of competition nearby, David’s team inked 196k SF since, or 34% of the campus. Now David can turn his attention to other mega assignments, like pre-leasing CORE’s mixed-use Corridor Park, which isn’t shying away from spec and may kick off its first building this year. He's also marketing One City Centre for Accesso and 800 Bell for Shorenstein (it’ll be effectively a new Class-A building when it’s renovated, David says).
David loves to travel with his family, and he and Susan (pictured with daughters Kristen and Kinsey) are celebrating their 35th anniversary this month with a trip to Kauai, Hawaii. But they’re also doing a lot of shorter trips—David’s from Dallas and a lot of his family is up there (his parents, siblings and one of his daughters), so he heads up 45 a lot. Something you may not know: his dad is a Baptist preacher, and David thinks that’s where he gets his love of people and 24/7 mentality for serving clients from.