Takeharu Miyama tells a fascinating story of how he came to the United States in the mid-1970s and wound up in Dallas. His daughter Sawako translates from Japanese: “I told my parents I wanted to see the world. I wanted to go someplace where people didn’t know me. I wanted to see what I could be.”
We’re sitting in the Miyamas’ office on the fifth floor of an Uptown building they own. With its brightly colored walls, whimsical art, and views of Klyde Warren Park, the space doesn’t look like the former storage room for janitorial supplies that it once was. Because I’m not focused on his words, I notice the excitement in Takeharu’s voice, his infectious grin, and his twinkling eyes. I begin to understand how, on a cross-country trip 40 years ago, he was able to transcend the language barrier and why many Americans welcomed him into their homes. It was the kindness of the people, he says, that led him back to the States years later, and why he decided to invest here.
Takeharu made his first real estate play in Dallas in 1990. Sixteen years later, he acquired the Uptown building, 1909 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, and an adjacent motor bank. Back then, there was nothing remarkable about the asset, a nondescript, 1980s mid-rise. But today, it’s one of the most sought-after properties in Dallas—the last viable development site next to Klyde Warren Park. Practically every developer in town has tried to persuade the family to sell or do a joint venture. A stack of their business cards sits on Sawako’s desk. But the Miyamas won’t be rushed. Their first priority isn’t generating returns.