Developer of the Year: D CEO’s Commercial Real Estate Awards

Selecting a Developer of the Year in a talent-laden market like Dallas isn’t easy. This year, three very worthy contenders rose to the top: Hillwood, led by Ross Perot Jr.; KDC, led by Steve Van Amburgh; and Trammell Crow Co., led in Texas by Adam Saphier. All are respected leaders not just locally, but nationally. The winner will be announced at D CEO’s Commercial Real Estate Awards event on March 20 at the Hilton Anatole.

RealPoints is profiling all 41 finalists leading up to the event, tackling one category a day. Featured so far: Best Land Sale, Best Commercial Property Sale, Excellence in Architecture/Design, Broker of the Year, Best Industrial Project, Best Medical Project, and Best Redevelopment or Renovation.

UPDATE: Scroll down to see the winner.

Hillwood, Ross Perot Jr.

Ross Perot Jr.

Last year was Hillwood’s most successful ever in all three of its primary divisions: Hillwood Properties, Hillwood Communities, and Hillwood Investment Properties. Led by Ross Perot Jr., the company’s impact on the region has been profound. In 2012, Hillwood inked 5 million square feet in leases at AllianceTexas, its signature 17,000-acre project in North Fort Worth, including a new 1.1 million-square-foot fulfillment center for Amazon. (It’s building another 1 million-square-footer for Amazon in Coppell.)

On the residential front, Hillwood Communities acquired more than 1,000 acres, developed more than 500 lots, and began the development of 600 more. It also broke ground on Harvest, a $1 billion, 1,000-acre mixed-use project in Northlake/Argyle. Hillwood Investment Properties, which manages industrial projects outside of Alliance, acquired nearly 10 million square feet of space in 2012, developed 4.2 million square feet, and leased 4.1 million square feet.

Perot said takes seriously the responsibility of providing opportunities for employees to grow—and doing what he can to help drive the economy: “It’s important for large companies like ours to put speculative projects on the ground and develop lots, to lead by example and help get markets going again.”

KDC, Steve Van Amburgh

Steve Van Amburgh

Longtime developer KDC has left its mark all over North Texas. And 2012 was no exception. The Dallas-based company worked on six major commercial projects totaling 894,000 square feet and valued at $175 million. They include large corporate offices for Tyler Technologies and Encana in Plano, a new headquarters for NBC 5 in Fort Worth, a medical facility for Texas Health Resources in Rockwall, and three data center projects totaling 356,000 square feet for Digital Realty Trust.

But its biggest news came in late 2012, when KDC sealed a land deal to support a 186-acre, $1.5 billion mixed-use, transit-oriented development in Richardson near the intersection of State Highway 190 and U.S. 75. The transformational development will incorporate build-to-suit office buildings, a healthcare facility, nearly 4,000 multifamily units, hotels, and retail and restaurant space. State Farm has already signed on as an office tenant—to the tune of a whopping 1.5 million square feet.

As a company, KDC also focused on strengthening its foundation and increasing its overall capital and liquidity in 2012. Steve Van Amburgh, CEO, said KDC is an “open-book” developer that strives to develop trust and consistency with clients, tenants, bankers and other partners. “It’s vital to maintaining successful relationships,” he said.

Trammell Crow Co., Adam Saphier

Adam Saphier

Throughout its 65-year history, Dallas-based Trammell Crow Co. has developed or acquired more than 525 million square feet of real estate, with a value exceeding $55 billion. A significant portion of that activity has been in North Texas. Last year was an exceptionally busy year, with the company working on eight projects totaling 2.8 million square feet and valued at more than $250 million.

On the industrial front, Trammell Crow completed work on I-20 Distribution Center II and broke ground on a three-building speculative project totaling 1 million square feet. Office projects include two significant build-to-suits at Plano’s Legacy business park (Ericsson and MedAssets), where it has developed about 1 million square feet in recent years and has a new two-building complex in the works. The developer also finished construction on phase I of Union at Carrollton Square, a multifamily and retail project that’s a partnership between the City of Carrollton and High Street Residential, a Trammell Crow subsidiary. Phase II is already under way.

Trammell Crow stands out because it excels in multiple product types (office, industrial, retail, multifamily) and develops on both a build-to-suit and speculative basis. The company is led locally by Adam Saphier, who in 2012 was promoted to regional president. He said Trammell Crow successfully executed on all of its business plans last year, and that the company’s pipeline is growing. “We are so grateful to be developing in North Texas,” he said.

WINNER: This year’s Developer of the Year is Ross Perot, Jr. Click here for a complete list of winners and finalists from this year’s Commercial Real Estate Awards.

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