Archive for the ‘Corporate Relocations’ Category

Recruiting Companies to Dallas – The One that Got Away

April 10, 2010
In difficult financial times, a city must still remain active and be successful with respect to getting companies to relocate and add dollars to our tax base.
This is one of the primary strengths of our current Mayor, Tom Leppert.  Since he became Mayor, many companies looking to move from various parts of the country now call Dallas home.  Texas has many pluses that make us more attractive when compared to other states (lower cost of living, pro-business attitude, etc), but you still need leadership that can close the deal when it’s on the table (kind of like the fine gent in the picture on the right).
One big fish that got away nearly ten years ago was Boeing. Dallas was a finalist for their relocation, but they ended up in Chicago.  In the following piece on the DMN Frisco blog (h/t Rudy Bush of the DMN), former Boeing CEO Phil Condit talks about many of the factors that cause Dallas to lose out of on a major relocation. Check it out.

Realities and Misconceptions about Downtown

October 13, 2009
There is always a lot of talk about what needs to happen to keep the momentum going in Downtown Dallas. But what you inevitably hear and read are an undercurrent of naysayers bemoaning the same factors for why downtown will never return to its past glory. The homeless. The tunnels. The (fill in the blank).
In my opinion, these are not reasons to ignore downtown.  I don’t see them as barriers to the recovery of downtown Dallas.

Yes, there are homeless people in Downtown Dallas. Unfortunately, there are going to be homeless people in every downtown in every major city. A good friend of mine in real estate made an interesting statement about the homeless, which was “if you had more people downtown, you wouldn’t notice the homeless because they would blend in with everyone else.”  When you compare Dallas to other cities, there are not a lot of homeless people.  I have seen cities with a much higher population of homeless revitalize their downtown. What city lets 10-15 people walking around during the day asking for change affect what is going to happen in a given part of town? See how much sense that makes? The people that don’t travel downtown because of the homeless folks probably will never come downtown anyway.
There is a need for improved lighting, but that will come with time. Also, applications are starting to arrive for video boards, which will provide a little flash to the major downtown streets.
What I really here are a bunch of excuses.
These are really excuses for people that wouldn’t invest, shop, or live downtown in the first place. Yet, some business owners have built downtown to great success.
7-Eleven opened at Commerce & Field. They didn’t say they couldn’t be successful because of the tunnels or anything else.  Try going in the store anytime during the day; there’s always several people in line or moving about the store. I would guess that it’s one of their more successful stores in Dallas.
The Joule Hotel is right in the middle of Main Street. They didn’t say that you couldn’t have a high-end hotel because a few homeless people are walking by the building. It’s a successful place.
Another reality: we’re stuck with the tunnels.  Most of the stores in the tunnels provide basic retail functions. They are a cash generator for the building owners and it’s probably too cost prohibitive to close the tunnels.  Philadelphia has an entire network of tunnels full of similar retail shops; so does Houston. In fact, in Houston the tunnels are marketed as an amenity, and some of them are open at night.
I have a different take on the tunnels than most.  We should look at the tunnels more as an asset and part of the overall strategy. Attract higher-level retail at the street level and leave the rest in the tunnels.  I’m sure the tunnels have lower rent costs, which would allow an aspiring business owner to strike out on his own and move to a street-level space once they have enough business.
I also disagree with the current alignment of the downtown streetcar. In my opinion, the route completely cuts off Deep Ellum from the rest of downtown. It’s a great route for the Arts district, but not for anywhere else.
I know that Deep Ellum is listed as a “potential extension,” but there are great businesses there now.  The main streets have multiple lanes that would be conducive to a streetcar.  How cool would it be to leave your office during lunch, hop the streetcar down to Twisted Root or Lemongrass or St. Pete’s, and get lunch? It also would show out-of-town Arts District patrons about this great alternative retail and restaurant scene right in the middle of our city.  Maybe just throw Deep Ellum a bone by having the train stretch to Good Latimer and Commerce,  circle back to Main and then continue north at Harwood Street.
If it’s impossible to build this route, then they should simultaneously look at a route for Deep Ellum.
The other funny thing is the people that are worried about driving on the streetcar tracks. Do you know how to drive? Seriously. As with a lot of things in Dallas, we want the amenities without any hassle. Well, the real world (which includes the cities to which we compare ourselves) works a little bit different.
It’s all about how you look at the situation.  Dallas has certain realities that must be dealt with downtown, but we should look at them more as opportunities than excuses not to invest, to shop, and to live.

Mercantile Place Grand Opening

April 17, 2009

Tonight, I got to attend the official grand opening for the Mercantile Place.

Mercantile Place actually consists of three buildings: Wilson Place, The Merc, and Element. The opening was for The Merc and Element.

The Element is a brand-new building, and the Merc is the fully restored and updated Mercantile National Bank Building. The Merc was once the largest building west of the Mississippi River for some time. This is the building with the multicolored spire which was recently lit for the first time in years.

I found our tour guide to be extremely knowledgeable of the history of The Merc. I had to leave before I got to check out the Merc’s vault, but I did get to see some amazing spaces.

I focused more on the views than on the inside of units. I will tell you that the finishes were top-notch (marble, granite, the works), and units featured Viking stoves and Bosch washers and dryers in each unit. The pictures here include the last penthouse in the Merc building which was recently leased. The cost: $6,300 per month. Rent for other units start from $1,299, which is reasonable for downtown in any city.

Check out the pics.

Lessons in the MillerCoors Loss

July 16, 2008

As you may have heard, MillerCoors chose Chicago over Dallas for their new HQ (story broken locally by Candy at DMag’s DallasDirt). They will be located in downtown Chicago.

The DMN wrap-up shows that while we will win some of the battles, there are issues on which we must continue to focus as a city. These are some of the factors cited in picking Chi-town:

  • Chicago’s “vibrant, 24-hour” central business district
  • Broad options of affordable housing with easy commutes.
  • Economic incentives to help offset “considerable” relocation costs.

Dallas is improving but we must continue to make ourselves a better competitor on a national and global stage. It will not only make us more attractive to companies seeking to relocate, but will also make us a better city.