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In A Big Texas Play, Chicago-Based Cresa Announces Merger With Firm Founded By NFL Legend

Less than a month after announcing it would relocate its headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Chicago, Cresa is making a big move into three major Texas markets.

Cresa will run its Texas operations out of ESRP’s headquarters at The Star in Frisco.

Cresa, which bills itself as the world’s largest occupier-focused commercial real estate firm, announced Tuesday morning it plans to acquire and merge with Dallas-Fort Worth-based tenant representation company ESRP, adding about 50 ESRP team members to the Cresa platform.

Those employees will lead Cresa’s Texas operations from ESRP’s headquarters at The Star in Frisco and existing offices in the Dallas Arts District and Houston Galleria. Cresa also plans to build a presence in Austin.

“We are thrilled to welcome esrp to the Cresa family. The level of success and caliber of clients established within their first nine years is rare,” Cresa CEO Tod Lickerman said in a release. “We admire esrp’s strategic, consultative and conflict-free, client-first reputation. We have found a like-minded partner who sees this business the same way and aligns perfectly with Cresa’s operating model and company culture.” 

ESRP was founded in 2013 as E. Smith Realty Partners by its current partners and famed Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith, who left the company in 2017. Today, ESRP provides multimarket corporate and occupier advisory services, assisting clients such as Mattress Firm, 7-Eleven, Neiman Marcus and NTT DATA Services in more than 40 countries.

Cresa officials cited Texas’ flood of recent corporate relocations and its position as one of the best-insulated markets in the country as major contributors to its decision to merge with ESRP. Leaders of both companies also pointed to a strong alignment based on the approach of supporting occupiers only, “without conflicts.”

CEO Sharon Morrison will join Cresa’s Board of Directors, while ESRP’s five additional partners, Darren Woodson, Karra Guess, Damian Rivera, Jim Hazard and Brad Struck, will become managing principals of Cresa leading Texas operations.

Cresa has been shaking up its operations in recent months, most recently with a move from D.C. to a showpiece office in Chicago’s hot Fulton Market. That move followed a string follows a string of Chicago-based hires, including Lickerman taking the CEO spot in early 2021.

In a bid to expand its international reach, the company also entered a strategic partnership with UK-based Knight Frank last year after its relationship with Newmark expired, teaming up earlier this month to build a nationwide UK life sciences advisory platform.

CORRECTION, MAY 3, 5:12 P.M. CT: A previous version of this story inadvertently omitted the title and first name of ESRP's CEO Sharon Morrison.