Corrigans_4 Emerald Beach in The Bahamas (left) and 2000 McKinney in Dallas (right) photography courtesy of the Corrigan family

A SECOND SPLIT

The family launched a third-party leasing and management division, Corrigan Real Estate Services, in 1991, and a year later formed The Stoneleigh Group, a tenant rep firm. By this time, the third generation had begun assuming greater control. Leo III was running Corrigan Properties; David was involved to a lesser degree, says Frank Burke, longtime family accountant.

“It soon became clear that there were two different philosophies were developing and, again, a spin-off transaction might be the answer,” Burke says. “Despite myriad complications, we finally reached an agreement in 1996 to divide things into two separate corporations.”

In a decision based on chemistry more than anything else, Leo III and Alice took the helm of Corrigan Properties. David and Catherine assumed control of Corrigan Investments, which also included Corrigan Real Estate Services. A fifth sibling, Mary Corrigan Livingston, is making indepedent real estate investments. Despite the split, the siblings remain close. “Even though we’re all no longer a part of the same company, we’re still in this together,” Alice says.

The third generation credit their parents for the strong family bond. Unlike many other wealthy families in Dallas, the Corrigans maintained a simple lifestyle and were taught to appreciate the value of hard work. “We were raised to be very basic,” David says. “There wasn’t any flash.”

This was especially true at the family’s ranch in Ravenna, a tiny town near the Texas-Oklahoma border, where summers and weekends were spent digging fence posts or working as cattle hands. “There was no, ‘I’m the owner’s kid,’ kind of mentality,” says David. “We learned to work without complaining, just like everyone else. We didn’t get to come in late and leave early.”

He and Leo III started in the family business by hauling trash and cutting grass. When they first got office jobs, all of the siblings had to begin on the lower rung and climb their way up. Catherine, for example, worked in catering sales at The Stoneleigh for nine years before being named assistant manager.

Today, she and David have a ying-yang working relationship at Corrigan Investments. David handles tasks that relate to the physical aspects of a property; Catherine takes on marketing, interiors and organizational matters.

“We don’t have formal lists of who handles what; we operate as a true team,” says David. “There are no lines that can’t be stepped over.”

In 1997, they merged the third-party services company with Burns & Noble, a brokerage based in Tyler. Mark Noble, a partner in that firm, moved to Dallas and became president of the combined operation. Seven years later, in May 2004, the firm was sold to Colliers International, a giant that operates in more than 50 countries. David and Catherine retained a minority stake in the Dallas branch; Noble was tapped to run it as managing director.

Allen Gump, executive vice president at Colliers, says the merger was a good move for both sides. “We had some office, but mostly industrial. Corrigan had a lot of the things we didn’t—retail, property management and project leasing,” he says. “And we were very impressed with the Corrigans. The family is like real estate royalty in Dallas.”

MAJOR PROJECTS

David and Catherine own and oversee mostly retail assets, such as Lakewood Shopping Center and The Pavilion on Lovers Lane. Their first solo development was Pavilion TownPlace, a 236-unit luxury apartment complex built in 2000 on land that Leo Sr. purchased in 1945 (and which formerly housed Woodlane Apartments.) For now, the two plan to focus on projects in North Texas, Catherine says. “There’s enough to do here without reaching out too much,” she says. “In general, our portfolio is very stable. We’re continuing to improve upon what we have and be opportunistic when it comes to real estate.”

All five of the Corrigan siblings quietly support local philanthropic groups and serve the community. Last year, David was named chairman of the Dallas Regional Chamber. He also has long been involved with the Museum of Nature & Science and is a driving force behind its new facility in Victory Park. “Dallas has provided tremendous opportunities for our family, and we’re obligated to give back,” David says. “We can’t just sit on the sidelines.”

At Corrigan Properties, Leo III and Alice  oversee assets the family has owned for decades, such as The Shops of Highland Park, as well as major new projects. They’ve also diversified their interests to include non real-estate investments.

“We have put disciplined business plans in place, and it has worked out quite well,” says Leo III. “It goes back to our responsibility as a third-generation owner—that we don’t blow the wad.”

On the real estate side, the siblings have focused on two significant undertakings: 2000 McKinney in Dallas and Bayshore Town Center in suburban Milwaukee. Both involve buys Leo Sr. initially made more than 50 years ago.

In Wisconsin, a $300 million redevelopment of Bayshore in 2006 took it from a 450,000-square-foot mall to a 1.5 million-square-foot mixed-use complex. To help with the expansion, Leo III and Alice sold 60 percent of the project to New York-based Mall Properties Inc. and Columbus, Ohio-based Steiner + Associates.

In Dallas, Leo III and Alice partnered with Lincoln Property Co. to develop 2000 McKinney, also known as the Texas Capital Bank building. The 442,355-square-foot office tower was built in 2008 on 3 prime acres at Harwood Street and McKinney Avenue in Uptown, overlooking the Woodall Rodgers deck park that’s under construction. Leo Sr. first acquired the front portion of the parcel in the 1940s.

The Corrigans looked at developing the high-profile site more than 25 years ago, hiring Dallas-based HKS Inc. to come up with plans for the  land. But the project was put on hold when the Dallas real estate market crashed in the 1980s.

“Dad had the vision to assemble the remainder of the block in the 1980s,” says Leo III. “It’s another example of holding a piece of land for many years until the time was right to fully develop it. We didn’t want to put something inferior on the property or sell it for a quick buck.”

Leo III says he and his siblings are determined to preserve what has been built for future generations, and to instill in their own children a sense of service and giving back.

For his part, Leo Jr. says he’s most proud of the fact that his children are keeping things going: “It has been a rewarding experience to see the family continue what my father started with his meager beginnings. We have had a lot of ups and downs and slips and falls, but overall, it has been a roaring success.”

This article is an excerpt from the book Corrigan: The Family, The Projects, The Legacy.