If you’ve ever been curious about the operations of Old Parkland—how space is rented, who works there, what they do, what all is hidden inside—Institutional Investor has heard you and is here for you. The magazine explores Harlan Crow’s $300 million, privately funded passion project, depicting it as a physical representation of its owner’s beliefs about how business should be done.
“You really want people that place a high priority on involved citizenship,” he tells the magazine.
And to do so, there is an interview process. It was apparently so involved that one applicant sweated through his clothing. They favor family offices of wealth managers, “for personal fortunes so vast that managing them is a full-time job, or several jobs.” Anyone wanting to sell those tenants services don’t make the cut. And you have to have a connection to get an interview with Crow and the board, which has the ultimate decision on who makes the cut. There are young firms and legacy groups. There are the successful 30- and 40somethings who wanted a country club on premises so they built one. There are the older intellectuals who gather in the basement debate chamber and hear, among others, Cornel West and Alan Dershowitz spar about Israel. (I’ve attended briefings there by the governor, and was always impressed that they tucked a string quartet onto a platform bordering the winding staircase that takes you down below.)
We’ve written before about all the artifacts there—among them are Rodin sculptures and a piece of curtain that may have been torn by Abraham Lincoln after he was shot—and Institutional Investor shows that there’s also a full basketball court that can be converted into a venue to watch ball games. (I will walk over from a happy hour at the Grapevine today to watch Game 3; who wants to take bets on how long it takes me to get booted? Apparently, the mere act of walking is a way you’re outed as an interloper.) But the largest takeaway, for me, are these two lines from writer Leanna Orr: “But Old Parkland was built by f*&#-you money for people with f*&#-you money. And that buys the freedom to be fun.”