The Book DFW Real Estate Legends Want Your Young Brokers, Investors And Developers To Read
Before Dallas-Fort Worth became flush with foreign and national capital and competition to acquire or develop every type of commercial asset imaginable, it was a quieter metropolitan area sculpted at the hands of a smaller pool of brokers, developers and property managers.
What these men and women learned about the area — from the differences between Fort Worth and Dallas to how to construct the perfect downtown skyline, or at least ensure your own development meshes well inside the developing one — is now encapsulated in one book for the next generation.
The North Texas Commercial Association of Realtors Hall of Fame Committee released the third edition of The Book — Dallas/Fort Worth Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame in late August.
Authored by Elizabeth Perkins, the book fleshes out some of the hidden sides of 91 North Texas real estate tycoons, including Trammell Crow, Lyn Davis, Henry S. Miller Jr., John M. Stemmons Sr., L. Storey Stemmons and many others who have been named to the NTCAR Hall of Fame.
More modern-day legends profiled include Jerry Jones, Craig Hall and Roger Staubach. The book also delves into the real estate projects, companies and developments the Hall of Famers created to lay the groundwork for today's booming real estate market.
"I think that the new generation is fortunate to have such great leaders that they can look to even though a lot of them are not here, but you learn by reading and gain so much knowledge to see how these visionaries saw greatness in Dallas and helped implement the greatness of this city," Weitzman founder and Executive Chairman Herbert Weitzman said.
“They will learn how this real estate business really got its start from people coming back from the World War, which is the Greatest Generation, which we honor in our book,” said Wayne Swearingen, one of the broker legends interviewed in the book.
“All of [the World War II legends] came back from the Second World War, and it helped a lot because some of the first office buildings had to be run like a ship,” Swearingen said. “So they hired people with Navy experience who ran steamships because we had steam-driven power.”
Swearingen, who is known for accurately profiling real estate activity and collecting broker-centric data prior to the creation of any type of official data service like CoStar, said he hopes young brokers and CRE professionals will read the book to understand the roots of the communities that they are building, developing and leasing in today.
Swearingen is quoted in the book waxing nostalgic for the days when “you could do business on the back of napkins, and a handshake was a bond.”
His advice for younger brokers is to not rely so heavily on technology, but to keep the people aspect of commercial real estate alive by engaging directly with clients and other industry players.
These men and women helped transform Dallas’ downtown skyline from a southern plains city to a high-rise heaven. More than three dozen skyscrapers have created one of the more active Central Business Districts in the nation.
Two families were at the forefront of shaping Dallas: the Crow family and the Stemmons family.
Trammell Crow is responsible for some of the most iconic builds in DFW, including the Dallas Market Center — a deal he was able to complete with some wheeling and dealing with a member of the Stemmons family.
The Stemmons family were real CRE firecrackers. The family’s donation of land allowed for the completion of Interstate 35, and the Stemmons' various improvement projects for the Trinity River allowed the area to remain a viable real estate play for the coming generations.
Jack Huff, who worked at The Swearingen Co. and then launched his own real estate firm, helped put Fort Worth on the map. It was no easy feat.
“Fort Worth’s downtown area was rundown and mostly empty,” he said of his early days in the industry. “We were just not on the radar.”
Yet, he committed his career to Fort Worth, and guided his company into an eventual merger into Transwestern, where he still works today.
“We are on the radar today, particularly because of the tremendous downtown we have. The difference is we have a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week CBD. It’s been a tremendous conversion over the last 20 years.”
The Book profiles all of these stories and more within its 288 pages.
It retails for $150 and can be purchased online at NTCARhalloffame.org/the-book.