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Dallas Real Estate Icons Named to NTCAR Hall of Fame

Ray Hunt and Leon Backes will be inducted in May; Diane Butler to receive Lifetime Achievement Award.
By Kelsey J. Vanderschoot |

Ray L. Hunt, executive chairman of Hunt Consolidated, Inc., and Leon J. Backes, founder and CEO of Provident Realty Advisors, will be inducted into the North Texas Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame in May.

The two will be honored for their outstanding contributions to Dallas’ commercial real estate sector alongside. Additionally, B. Diane Butler will receive the Michael F. McAuley Lifetime Achievement Award for her service to the commercial real estate industry and work with civic organizations.

The North Texas Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame honors individuals and families who have worked with local real estate brokers to create significant positive change in North Texas. Former NTCAR Hall of Fame inductees include Trammell Crow, John M. and L. Storey Stemmons, Jerry Jones, Ross Perot Jr., and Gerald and Jeff Hines.

Last year’s inductees were Fehmi Karahan, president and chief executive officer of The Karahan Cos., and Holt Lunsford, founder and CEO of Holt Lunsford Commercial. Charles “Chuck” G. Dannis of Crosson Dannis Inc. received the Michael F. McAuley Lifetime Achievement Award.

Here’s a closer look at each of these Dallas commercial real estate icons and their work within our city.

Ray L. Hunt
Ray Hunt

Hunt, who began his career in the oil fields of his father’s eponymous petroleum company, has received several awards within the energy industry and is well known for his commercial real estate contributions that have come to define the Dallas skyline.

A member of SMU’s class of 1965, Hunt spent the early 1970s establishing a real estate company for Hunt Oil and seeking out innovative partnerships within Dallas’ commercial real estate sector. In addition to collaborating with noteworthy national operating companies such as JPI, Newland Real Estate Companies, Trinsic Residential, and Bridge Development Partners, Hunt formed a public-private partnership with the City of Dallas that led to the development Reunion Tower and Hyatt Regency Hotel in 1978.

“Ray Hunt’s masterful investments in Dallas have contributed greatly to the success of our downtown and literally defined our skyline,” said Greg Cannon, co-chair of the 2020 NTACR Hall of Fame event committee.

Nearly 50 years later, Hunt Realty’s local assets include the North End Apartments in Uptown and Hunt’s Consolidated headquarters downtown.

Hunt’s firm is currently partnering with The Karahan Cos., Chief Partners, and Cross Tie Partners to develop a 2,500-acre residential and commercial development in Frisco. Called The Fields, a portion of the mixed-use space will house PGA of America’s new national headquarters.

Leon J. Backes
Leon Backes

A former employee of Coldwell Bank and previously a partner in an investment firm, Backes formed Provident Realty Advisors in 1991. The venture focuses on real estate projects that offer the opportunity for risk-adjusted, above-market returns.

Specifically, Provident Realty centers around the acquisition and development of multifamily projects, land development, and the leasing, management, and construction of retail, office, and self-storage spaces.

Backes’ company has developed or acquired more than $500 million in retail developments, 30 self-storage projects, 1.5 million square feet of office space, and 15,000 apartment units, and it currently manages a land portfolio of more than 8,000 acres. Of particular note is The Katy apartment community near Highland Park.

Backes also has a large oil and gas investments and majority ownership in institutional pharmaceutical, commercial lighting distribution, and emergency room businesses.

“Not only does [Backes] have significant holdings, he is spearheading some of Dallas’ most beautiful developments, including the stunning Preston Hollow village,” said NTACR Hall of Fame event committee co-chair Lynn Dowdle of Dowdle Real Estate.

B. Diane Butler
B. Diane Butler

Butler is co-founder and former executive chair of commercial real estate firm Butler Burgher Group and founder and principal of Butler Advisers. There are few industry organizations that have not benefitted from her support.

She has actively played volunteer leadership roles for the Texas Women’s Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Volunteers for America Classic, and Governor Greg Abbott’s Small Business Forum for Women. She’s also a member of the National Multifamily Housing Council, the Appraisal Institute, the Urban Land Institute, the Dallas Assembly, and the City of Dallas Housing Acquisition Development Board.

“Diane is an industry superstar who is known locally and nationally,” said North Texas Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame event committee member Kathy Permenter. “In everything she does, she leads with excellence, whether it’s one of the companies that she’s founded, the young professionals that she inspires—in particular women—or the nonprofits that she supports.”

Butler has more than 30 years of commercial real estate experience, including work in the multifamily housing, healthcare, industrial, retail, and mixed-use sectors. She cofounded Trophy Investments with David Burgher in 1998, and the company has since invested in, or developed, a wide array of building projects and commercial land tracts.

Butler and the two NTACR Hall of Fame inductees and will be recognized on Tuesday, May 5, at the Dallas Country Club.

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