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Commercial Real Estate

‘Dallas Will Welcome You’: Get to Know NTCAR’s Newest Hall of Fame Inductees

Bill Vanderstraaten and Scott Rohrman were inducted as hall of fame members, while Jack Fraker and Robert Grunnah earned recognition for their lifetime achievements.
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(L to R): Jack Fraker, Bill Vanderstraaten, Robert Grunnah, and Scott Rohrman.

As of 2019, it took exactly 288 pages to tell the story of North Texas Commercial Real Estate. That number is about to grow.  

Bound in a textured forest-green, the cover of “The Book” features silver-embossed letters, all capitalized, that spell out its title. It tells the story of the region from the context of the people who helped shape it: giants like Trammell Crow, Henry S. Miller Jr., Roger Staubach, Ray L. Hunt and the Stemmons family. The volume’s intent is summed up on page 5: “We strongly believe in the fact that those committed to a successful future must have an appreciation of the past.”  

First published in 2008, The Book celebrates inductees of the North Texas Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame, as well as recipients of the Michael F. McAuley Lifetime Achievement Award, the Stemmons Service Award, key projects that shaped DFW, and a timeline that sketches out the story of the region.  

On May 1, third editions of The Book were featured on tables at the Arts District Mansion. It was a fitting way to set the stage for the 36th annual NTCAR Reunion and Hall of Fame event—in the presence of the region’s pivotal history, Dallas’ commercial real estate community penned a new chapter that will soon be added to that collection of stories.   

That night, Bill Vanderstraaten and Scott Rohrman were inducted into the North Texas Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame in cooperation with the North Texas Commercial Association of Realtors (NTCAR). Additionally, the Michael F. McAuley Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Jack Fraker and Robert Grunnah. The award, first given in 2006, recognizes those who contributed “an extraordinary amount of time and effort to promoting integrity, honesty, reciprocation and professionalism throughout their commercial real estate careers,” according to The Book. 

Vanderstraaten founded Chief Partners in 2007 in partnership with Trevor Rees-Jones and the Rees-Jones family. The commercial real estate investment firm currently boasts a portfolio of more than 80 separate investments through over 30 operating partners. That portfolio includes the Fields Development in Frisco and Clearfork, a mixed-use development in Fort Worth. The firm currently has $1.4 billion in assets under management. Since its inception, the firm and its partners have completed 3.64 million feet of development, as well as 3.43 million feet of value-added repositioned assets. 

Although Vanderstraaten sees himself as more of a “windshield guy than a rear-view mirror guy,” his induction inspired a walk down memory lane—for him, it’s a journey that includes four major stops. After graduating from SMU in 1982, he joined Harwood International (previously SPG international). In 1997, he joined CarrAmerica as the Dallas market officer and then was an original Fund I partner of real estate private equity firm Thackeray Partners, now Greystar. 

“I was fortunate enough to be there at the beginning of each of my stops with four different capital sources, foreign investments, public REIT, private equity, and family office,” Vanderstraaten said. “I wish I could tell you that was by design, but it was just being in the right place at the right time, and perhaps a bit of divine intervention.”

He noted that each of those stops happened because of help or encouragement from a good friend. “That’s why I spend time helping students at SMU get on the right career path,” he said. “I can’t possibly pay back all those friends, but I can maybe help somebody else who’s just starting out. So my advice to everybody is just to make time to help others. It’ll pay you back in spades. That’s the best investment you can make, and it’s a lasting legacy.”  

Rohrman grew up in Mississippi. He earned his undergrad in business administration and a master’s in education from Baylor and got his MBA from SMU. He started his career at Henry S. Miller Co./Grubb & Ellis before moving to The Stratford Group and Fischer & Co. He’s known for pro-bono and charity work including helping to develop St. Philip’s School and Community Center’s 12,000-square-foot retail building. 

Rhorman founded 42 Real Estate, which focuses on initiatives ranging from industrial and land investment/development to urban redevelopment and pro-bono projects. Known for build-to-suit projects across the country, Rohorman’s clients include Dick’s Sporting Goods, Best Buy, 24-Hour Fitness, FedEx, and Frito-Lay.    

“My award tonight is proof that you don’t have to be a big-time developer,” Rohrman said. “I don’t know what they were thinking when they picked me, but I’m not near as big a developer as a lot of the people who have won this award, but I sure do appreciate it.” 

Rohrman is known for his work to redevelop Deep Ellum, accumulating 55 parcels and taking a community-driven approach that included restoring vintage buildings and implementing a 42 murals from local artists. The firm controls more than 15 properties in The Cedars and 16 properties in downtown Dallas. “I’m unbelievably grateful to be in Dallas,” Rohrman said. “Dallas has let a poor boy from Mississippi show up, make phone calls, and if you’ve got a good idea and you’re willing to work hard, Dallas will welcome you.” 

Previously, the association announced that it would be recognizing Fraker with the Michael F. McAuley Lifetime Achievement Award. The night of the ceremony, Grunnah was also surprised with the award. 

Fraker heads industrial and logistics capital markets for Newmark and has represented some of the U.S.’ largest corporations, global investors, pension fund advisors, REITS and corporate tenants through his career. That includes personally completing more than 1,800 industrial and logistics capital markets transactions totaling 1.5 billion square feet and $85 billion across the globe. He has also advised on roughly 12,000 acres of development sites and over 300 office and industrial leasing assignments. “The thing about this industry is that it’s all about people and relationships,” Fraker said. “We’re in the people business, the real estate business, we’re so lucky to be in this business.”    

Fraker, who was given the Stemmons Service Award in 2003, is also known for giving back to the industry and charitable organizations. He served on the board of Governors of the ULI, was a board member and adjunct professor for SMU and the University of Texas Business School, and is currently a board member of Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep School. He has also served on the boards of Hunt Southwest, Cushman & Wakefield, USAA, The Metropolitan YMCA of Dallas and Girls Inc. 

Grunnah, the second McAuley Award recipient, recently retired from his role as executive managing director at Younger Partners. His six-decade career includes serving as president of the investments and land division of Henry S. Miller Cos. from 1994 to 2014 and as president and CEO of Newmarket Group Southwest. An SMU graduate, he is a Bronze Star Medal Recipient with an Oak Leaf Cluster for his service as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. 

Grunnah’s accolades include co-founder and past chairman and director of the Land Council of North Texas; former vice chairman and board governor of the commercial investment division of the Greater Dallas Association of Realtors; and co-publisher of The Book. 

He is also co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Hall of Fame event, which launched in 1987. Despite his recent retirement, Grunnah plans to continue volunteering and advising on efforts that impact North Texas commercial real estate.  

The award was presented to Grunnah by Chris Teesdale of Colliers and Darrell Hurmis of Henry S. Miller, who co-founded the Hall of Fame with Grunnah. “Through these endeavors, Robert not only left an indelible mark on our real estate landscape but also wove himself into the fabric of the community he served, touching lives and inspiring others through mentoring and his leadership,” Hurmis said.  

Work is underway to develop the fourth edition of The Book, which will include the 2024 honorees. The latest edition is slated to be released in 2024. 

Author

Audrey Henvey

Audrey Henvey

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