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See the Winners of D CEO’s Commercial Real Estate Awards

North Texas remains one of the hottest commercial real estate markets in the country. Here are the projects and professionals leading the way.
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The Victor
Courtesy of Company

The last year in commercial real estate was one for the record books. Not only did we see highest-ever sales prices for office properties (both total price and per-square-foot), North Texas also paced the country in industrial development. Demand for industrial and data center space hit peak levels, as did absorption of retail space, following two years of lackluster activity due to the pandemic. Land sales continue to surge across the region, as developers and homebuilders try to keep up with the ongoing growth. There seems to be no end in sight, as North Texas continues to attract corporate relocations from across the country. Launched in 2013, D CEO’s annual Commercial Real Estate Awards program recognizes the best of the best. On the following pages, you’ll read about the projects, deals, and industry players driving activity and securing DFW’s reputation as the place to be.

Developer of the Year

Derrick Evers

CEO, Kaizen Development Partners

Kaizen, a Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement, acts as a guide for Derrick Evers, Nick Summerville, and Lee White. The trio behind Kaizen Development Partners led suburban office development with the One Bethany office park in Allen and District 121 in McKinney. But their latest project, The Link at Uptown, is the company’s crown jewel. Kaizen was in the middle of constructing the 25-story office tower at the intersection of Victory Park and Uptown when the pandemic hit. Instead of halting work, Kaizen pressed on with the project. The risky move paid off, as the speculative project was nearly fully leased upon opening. Next up is Field Street District, a massive mixed-use project in an emerging downtown market.

Finalists: Bright Realty led by Chris Bright, Harwood International led by Gabriel Barbier-Mueller, Presidium led by John Griggs

Retail Deal of the Year

Elephant East

The 10th and newest concept in Harwood Hospitality Group’s portfolio, Elephant East is a contemporary Pan-Asian restaurant, bar, and lounge that opened in August in the La Rue Perdue alleyway in Dallas’ vibrant Harwood District. With ornate design, more than 100 exquisite wood carvings by Brian Braun, and sculptures sourced from the Far East, a visit there conjurs up images of Bangkok or Bali. Elephant East was designed by Harwood International’s HDF and Duncan & Miller Design, who worked with art curator Seret & Son’s.

Finalists: 3677 W. Emporium Circle, At Home lease in Timber Creek Crossing, Eataly Dallas, Lakepointe Towne Crossing

Best Multifamily Project

Hines is known globally for the quality of its projects. The Victor, a 39-story residential highrise, is designed to feel like a high-end hotel.

The Houston developer’s latest addition to Victory Park features commissioned art, a 10,000-square-foot amenity hub, and 360-degree views of Turtle Creek and the nearby American Airlines Center. With 344 units totaling 445,152 square feet, it welcomed its first residents in July of last year. The Victor was designed by Houston-based Munoz + Albin Architecture, with interiors by Mayfield & Ragni Studio, also of Houston. Units range in size from 540 to 2,700 square feet and go for about $2,000 a month to as much as $17,500.

Finalists: Arlington Commons, The Truman; Lakeview Pointe, Waterside Living; Modera Katy Trail; Presidium Frisco Square

Best Land Deal

Veale Ranch

In one of the largest land deals in DFW last year, the 3,800-acre Veale Ranch—which has been marketed at $95 million—was purchased by Dallas community developer PMB Capital Partners. The property has been a cattle ranch owned by one family since 1935. Rex Glendenning of Frisco’s Rex Real Estate brokered the sale with Taylor Baird of PMB leading negotiations for the buyer. 

Finalists: 928 acres in Pilot Point, Oliver Creek Ranch, Uptown Celina

Excellence in Architecture & Design

Boka Powell, led by Don Powell

Despite the pandemic, 2021 was a banner year for “harvesting best of class projects and associated billings,” says Don Powell, principal of Dallas-based BOKA Powell. It’s the architect of record for CHRISTUS Health’s new headquarters in Irving and numerous other local projects, including One Victory Park, 1920 McKinney, International Plaza, and the W Hotel & Residences. What’s the most notable trend Powell is seeing in commercial space design? “Physical distancing is here to stay in terms of well-being in workplace and in the amenity-rich environments we are creating,” he says. “Attraction to outdoors and nature have also become pervasive in workplaces.”

Finalists: 5G Studio Collaborative, Corgan, Gensler

Best Office Lease—Suburban

At Home

Plano-based At Home has about 400 corporate employees in Dallas-Fort Worth, and the home décor retailer plans to expand to more than 1,000 people within the next 10 years. The company announced last year that it was building a 260,000-square-foot corporate headquarters at Cypress Waters in Coppell, including 182,000 square feet of office space, a 78,000-square-foot mock store, and photo and video studios. Torrey Littlejohn and Larry Toon of JLL were the tenant representatives on the deal; Billingsley Cos. is the developer on the project.

Finalists: Dairy Farmers of America, Interstate Batteries, Stonebriar Commercial Finance, Verily Life Sciences (Alphabet/Google)

Excellence in Construction and Engineering

AECOM, led by DEV Rastogi

Infrastructure giant AECOM announced plans to relocate from Los Angeles to Dallas last August—the sixth Fortune 500 company to move to North Texas in the past six years. AECOM market leader Dev Rastogi says 2022 holds the opportunity to improve infrastructure across the U.S. with passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. “With this new spending, we can deliver projects that improve the public’s safety, reduce our carbon footprint, build resiliency, and expand opportunity,” she says.

Finalists: KAI Enterprises, Pacific Builders

Best Office Project

When it’s complete, the new CHRISTUS HEALTH headquarters will add 456,000 square feet to the Las Colinas submarket.

CHRISTUS Health has been based in Irving for a decade. Its doubling down on its commitment to the city with a new 15-story build-to-suit. By the time it’s complete in 2023, CHRISTUS expects to add 150 jobs to its current workforce of 1,800. Fidelis Healthcare Partners led the site selection, pre-development, and development planning, with Dallas-based BOKA Powell serving as project architect.

Finalists: 2999 Olympus Blvd., Granite Park 6, Hillwood Commons II, Independent Financial Phase 2, The Link at Uptown

Executive of the Year

What has you most excited about the future?

Winner: Cliff Booth, Westmount Realty Capital

“It has been rewarding to see the dynamic company we have built grow [into] a driving force in cities throughout the Midwest, Southwest, Southeast, and Western regions.”

Finalist: Doug Chesnut, StreetLights Residential

“As our company matures, younger leadership is emerging with better and stronger skills. The innovation and collaboration that team members provide is the key to success.”

Finalist: Najdi Rafaty, LiNC Commercial Realty

“I’m certainly not new to the industry but with LiNC I’m in the driver’s seat and knowing there is so much opportunity and potential for growth is what excites me the most.”

Finalist: Daniel Taylor, Colliers

“I believe there is not another city in the world that is a better place to make money in the real estate business. With all the inbound migration, Dallas should flourish for years to come.”

Finalist: Jason Vitorino, STRIVE

“Parking money into hard assets is the way to achieve great wealth. I think we’ll see more and more investments in commercial real estate on the horizon.”

Best Office Lease—Urban

Integrity Marketing Group

One of the largest independent insurance firms in the country, Integrity Marketing Group, left its home in the suburbs and moved to Fountain Place in Dallas last summer. The company leased 117,086 square feet (eight floors) in the landmark tower, which was recently given a transformative renovation by owner Goddard Investment Group. CBRE’s Josh White, Ryan Buchanan, Dennis Barnes, Fletcher Cordell, and Jackie Marshall handled lease negotiations for Goddard. Dallas-based Corgan designed Integrity’s new interiors.

Finalists: FDIC, Galderma Laboratories, JLL, LERMA, Worldwide Express

Best Industrial Project

Carter Park East

South Fort Worth has become one of the area’s most active submarkets, thanks to record industrial demand. The new Carter Park East aims to respond to that need. The 556-acre masterplanned development secured a 1 million-square-foot lease from HomeGoods last year. The industrial park is a joint venture between Clarion Partners, Crow Holdings, and Rob Riner Cos. It’s leased and managed by Stream Realty Partners.

Finalists: Alliance Center East 1. Denton Distribution Center, DFW Park 161, McKinney National Business Park, Mountain Creek East Logistics Center

Best Commercial Property Sale

A Canadian investor set a Dallas price-per-square-foot record late last year when it acquired THE TERRACES in Preston Center, developed by PegasusAblon.

City Office REIT knew a good thing when it saw it—a luxury office tower in the heart of the highly sought-after Preston Center submarket. What’s more, The Terraces, a 12-story, 172,639-square-foot building, was 99 percent leased to tenants like Compass Real Estate and WeWork, with an average remaining lease term of 8.4 years. So, the Vancouver-based investor didn’t shy away from paying $133.5 million—or a record $773 per square foot—for the prized property, which was developed by PegasusAblon in 2017. Built to LEED Gold standards, The Terraces is the newest office building in Preston Center. The project is so named because its top two floors offer private terraces with views of the surrounding commercial and residential neighborhoods. Jonathan Napper and Mike McDonald of Cushman & Wakefield brokered the sale. T.D. Briggs and Jeff Wood of JLL oversee leasing and marketing the building to prospective tenants.

Finalists: 10000 NCX, DFW Infill Portfolio Sale, Parkside at Craig Ranch

Broker of the Year

Torrey Littlejohn

Managing Director, JLL

After graduating from the University of North Carolina, Torrey Littlejohn worked in corporate finance for almost four years at American Airlines. “While in grad school at SMU, I interned with The Staubach Co.,” she says. “All the brokers there came to work every day ready to solve a different challenge, ready to win.” Littlejohn continues to bring that drive as managing director at JLL. Last year, she was the No. 2 producer in JLL’s Dallas office, with key projects including representing At Home in its 260,000-square-foot build-to-suit in Coppell. The thing Littlejohn loves most about her job? “The impact from this work is tangible and makes a difference in the communities and cities around us,” she says. “We are able to see the fruits of our labor every day.”

Finalists: David Eseke, Cushman & Wakefield; Ward Richmond, Colliers; Matthew Rosenfeld, Weitzman; Brad Struck, ESRP

Best Mixed-Use Project

East Quarter, developed by Todd Interests

Back in the 1920s, the area between Deep Ellum and Dallas’ Central Business District was known as Auto-Row. But closures caused the district’s historic buildings to languish. A savior emerged in the form of Todd Interests, which acquired 18 properties in 2018 from four different owners and, in short order, created a vibrant mixed-use destination through both redevelopment and new construction. A sleek 17-story residential tower opened last year. Other transformations include the Magnolia Petroleum Building’s rebirth as National Anthem, a restaurant from chef Nick Badovinus, and a new art events facility that brought a long-vacant former Masonic Temple back to life. All told, East Quarter offers 200,000 square feet of office space, 25,000 square feet of retail, and 366 apartment units.

Finalists: (1) Crescent Fort Worth, (2) HALL Park

Best Industrial Deal

Walmart at Westport 11

Following an unparalleled year for e-commerce demand in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Walmart.com, the nation’s largest retailer, signed a deal for its third e-commerce facility in North Fort Worth in January 2021. The 1,002,536-square-foot warehouse is part of the 27,000-acre master planned AllianceTexas development. Reid Goetz of Hillwood was the in-house representative for the landlord. The tenant was represented by Craig Jones, Melissa Holland, George Curry, Kris Bjorson, and Dan McGillicuddy of JLL.

Finalists: HomeGoods at Carter Park, Misfits Market, Saddle Creek Logistics Services, Move Solutions

Best Redevelopment

After 70 years, a landmark furniture store has been transformed into WEIR’S PLAZA, a vertical mixed-use tower that brings new life to the prominent corner of Knox and Travis streets.

A dining and shopping destination, the Knox Street district is becoming a fledgling office market, too. The latest project to hit the scene is Weir’s Plaza, a 12-story development that includes 250,000 square feet of office space, 12,000 square feet of restaurant space, and a 28,000-square-foot Weir’s Furniture store. When the project opened this past February, it was 100 percent leased, with anchor tenant Kirkland & Ellis occupying the top three floors. Still wrapping up: the preservation and adaptive reuse of the famous Highland Park Soda Fountain, which will house a new eatery from Duro Hospitality. Designed by GFF, Weir’s Plaza is a collaboration between the Weir family and their development partner, Four Rivers Capital.

Finalists: Preston Commons, Proto Park, Whiterock Marketplace

Emerging Leader of the Year

Daniel Baker

Vice Chairman, CBRE

At just 35 years old, Daniel Baker is the youngest person to be named vice chairman in CBRE’s history. He was promoted to the role just 12 years after beginning his career as a research coordinator. Last year, Baker was the global firm’s top producer in North Texas, transacting more than $4.4 billion in deals. To put that into perspective, Baker and his team accounted for about 25 percent of all multifamily investment sales in the region. The emerging leader says he is proud of the team he has built. “The last couple of years have been a rebuilding period, and it really feels like we have all the pieces assembled,” he says. “And, personally, my wife and I just welcomed our son, Teddy, in January. It has been an awesome journey so far,  and we’re thrilled for the adventure.” 


Why did you decide to go into a career in commercial real estate, and what do you enjoy most about it?

Brittney Austin, SHOP Cos.

“My background has always been retail, but I promised myself I would never be a buyer. I woke up four years later and was an assistant buyer, not energized by my career. Living in Dallas, real estate surrounds you. I took a blind leap while following my passion and haven’t looked back.”

Matt Falkin, CAF Funds

“Like so many in our industry, I followed family into real estate. I grew up in Houston watching my older brother, Roman, develop and acquire real estate. What I enjoy most about my line of work is the opportunity to influence and hopefully improve lives in arguably the most intimate venue of real estate: housing.”

Andrew Gross, Matthews Real Estate Investment Services

“Real estate is in my blood. I dove into brokerage while still in college. Within my first week on the job, I knew I was born to be in this industry. It is my passion. I love what I do, the people I work with, and the relationships I have been fortunate to build since starting my career.”

Cole Hooper, Colliers

“After graduating from college, I had internships in banking and private equity. Although I enjoyed those experiences, real estate is what really interested me because, frankly, it was much easier for me to understand. You can see it, feel it, touch it—it’s a tangible asset.”

Hutton Lunsford, Holt Lunsford Commercial

“The main reason I chose to get into the real estate investment business is the opportunity to impact many. While most may view making money as the primary driver behind business, I’ve found cultivating relationships to be exponentially more fulfilling. People are the driver of this industry.”

Justin Schoellkopf, Four Rivers Capital

“Like so many people in real estate, I love all the different things that come together in one big Venn-Diagram: architecture, geography, cartography, economics, local politics—it’s an extrovert’s playground, and it’s wonderful.”

Ching-Ting Wang, Cushman & Wakefield

“I previously worked in research in an academic setting and enjoyed digging into the data. The best part about my line of work is that I get to learn something new every day and be a part of the process on many deals across various asset types.”

Best Community Impact

Oak Lawn District

For years, developers tried to buy a prime tract along Cedar Springs in Dallas’ Oak Lawn neighborhood. But their plans always involved tearing down a row of beloved bars owned by Caven Enterprises. PegasusAblon’s Mike Ablon, known for his transformation of the Design District, worked out a deal to acquire the property and allow Caven to continue to operate the venues. With the two residential towers he’s planning adjacent to the bars, he aims to “create a connection point that will fortify the neighborhood’s permanence in the longer arc of time.”

Finalists: AnaCapri Laguna Azure, City of Dallas Fire Station No. 46, KDC Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County, Southpoint Community Market


Brandon J. Call

Brandon J. Call

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Brandon J. Call is the former executive editor for D CEO magazine. An award-winning business and data journalist, Call previously…

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