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Weekend Interview: Maitland Management’s Jimmy Hsueh On Taking The Road Less Traveled To CRE

This series goes deep with some of the most compelling figures in commercial real estate: the deal-makers, the game-changers, the city-shapers and the larger-than-life personalities who keep CRE interesting.

Jimmy Hsueh’s path to commercial real estate has been anything but conventional. The owner of Maitland Management, a full-service CRE firm that launched in 2020 in Dallas, has lived many lives, colored by a professional career that has taken Hsueh all over the globe and put him across the negotiating table from some of the world’s most prominent leaders.

Jimmy Hsueh and his wife, Peggy, are both licensed pilots and own two Beechcraft Bonanzas.

After spending more than 20 years in various industries, including stage production, theme parks and city planning, Hsueh moved to Dallas during the pandemic and started snapping up commercial properties. He has since grown his portfolio to nearly 1M SF across the Metroplex, and despite economic turmoil putting a damper on transactions, Hsueh remains bullish on the potential of the market.

Before Hsueh decided to settle down and trade his frequent flyer status for a yellow Lamborghini, he spent years rubbing elbows with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia and executives at Disney and Universal Studios. Bisnow sat down with Hsueh to discuss this intriguing background and how he ended up launching a growing CRE firm that is quickly making its mark on DFW.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Bisnow: You were born and raised in New York City and attended the University of Central Florida. What did you want to do initially? What were your aspirations in college?

Hsueh: I’m confused why kids these days don’t know what they want to do — I wanted to do so many things. But I really wanted to be an architect. Being from an Asian background, my parents always wanted [me] to be a doctor, but I had zero interest in that.

Bisnow: You started your professional career by purchasing the original patent for bouncy castles. How did you improve and scale that business?

Hsueh: When I took over, [bouncy castles] were made to order — you had to customize them, and it would take three to six months to turn over, and it cost a lot of money. When I bought [the patent] in 1999, I mass produced it to my specifications, so it didn’t have choices anymore. As far as playability, I mixed it up, so instead of a slide and a bouncy castle, it became a combo. So you could go into the bouncy castle, with a slide on top of it and an obstacle course. And I themed it — so it could be a car wash, or a pinball machine, it could look like the Titanic sinking. As far as quality, I changed the way it was designed so it lasts longer.

Bisnow: You eventually transitioned into special effects and went to work on projects for Universal Studios and Disney. How did your background in theme parks prepare you for an eventual career in city planning?

Hsueh: I got into special effects because the bouncy castle [business] got me an opportunity to work in stage direction. They wanted immediate structures that could be blown up through compressed air. I started producing the bubble machines and the fog machines.

I left the business because it was very draining. You set up in two days and then you can’t sleep for a week. So I stopped, and I didn’t have any contacts, but I got a job with [ITEC Entertainment] in the theme park business. They hired me because my background in concerts [lended itself] to theme parks. In theme parks, there are special effects and music, and it’s basically the same technology. 

The newer theme parks started making worlds, not just rides. And theme parks actually are cities. Like Disney, they have their own power plants, their own roads, their own trains. 

I moved up in position [at ITEC] and became general manager. From there, I developed the city planning portion of the business. I completely changed the company, and we started only doing city planning.

Jimmy and Hsueh his wife, Peggy, at the Liftoff Bar & Ride in Las Vegas.

Bisnow: How did you become involved with the design for New Cairo in Egypt, and the NEOM and Qiddiya projects in Saudi Arabia? What did your consortium with China Construction Bank look like?

Hsueh: The cities that hired us were building from scratch, so it’s not gentrification, it’s not a renewal. It was very easy for me to sell the package because I came in with the design, the know-how, the American flag and the theme park background. China Construction Bank had the experience, the machines, the people and the money. So as a client, you don’t need to do anything. 

Bisnow: You decided during the pandemic to move to Dallas from Florida. What was it about Dallas that appealed to your expertise as a city planner and made you want to start a business here?

Hsueh: Dallas is densely populated, and the prices, I thought, were cheap as hell. As a city planner, it looks like a big city, but it has room to grow so much more. You could tell that the growth wasn’t organic — somebody planned it. I looked at Dallas and said, “Man, this is the place to be.”

Bisnow: You started Maitland Management in Dallas in 2020. What made you want to take on the commercial real estate industry after having such a unique and exciting career? Not that commercial real estate isn’t interesting, but it’s a little different from city planning in Saudi Arabia.

Hsueh: I was always traveling, and it was tiring. My life was basically living in a hotel. It sounds very glamorous, but it’s not because you’re very lonely. I didn’t want to do it anymore.

I thought real estate was easy. Nobody taught me — it was just intuitive. It’s a tree that grows apples, and I just pick the apples off. In my previous job, I had to chase things — I didn’t have an apple tree. At the end of the day, real estate is just about taking care of your tenants and making sure you pay your loan.

Bisnow: How has the business evolved and grown? What did your portfolio look like in 2020 compared to how it looks now?

Hsueh: During Covid, I owned a lot of small-scale assets. Today, I have close to 1M SF in DFW across multiple sectors — office, multifamily, mixed-use and some industrial.

Jimmy Hsueh launched Maitland Management in Dallas in 2020 after moving to the area from Orlando, Florida.

Bisnow: How has turmoil in the capital markets impacted your strategy or your ability to transact?

Hsueh: I have slowed down, but I’m looking. I don’t feel like there are no opportunities, I actually think office opportunities are very ripe for the picking. If you’re buying these office buildings at an eight, nine cap, that’s still higher than interest rates, so this is the only product you can cash flow today. Everything else, you’re losing money because your interest rates are higher than your cap rates.

Bisnow: A big part of your business is in-house property management, but you have ambitions of expanding into the third-party business. Why is that something you’re so passionate about, and is there any movement in expanding into third-party at this time?

Hsueh: I would love to, but because nobody is acquiring new buildings, it’s hard for me to find new clients. It’s hard to divorce your management company. 

Right now, I own everything — I have my own janitors, security guards, plumbers and electricians. It’s helpful for me, but then I can also offer that service. On top of that, it helps me get the best people. I am still missing some people on my staff — I’d love to have a full-time air conditioning guy, for instance. I would love to grow my in-house team, and a good way to do that is to have demand from other owners. 

Bisnow: Can you give me your bold prediction for the rest of the year? 

Hsueh: I don’t think AI is going to affect the property management business whatsoever. It will help us out with file management, but that technology has been here forever — it’s nothing new. You still have to clean toilets — how the heck is AI going to do that for you?

Bisnow: What is your favorite weekend activity or weekend routine?

Hsueh: Typically, I would go out in my plane and fly to another city. I’m a licensed pilot, and my wife is, too. We have two Bonanzas — one is a four-seater, and the other is a six-seater.