Friday, December 04, 2009

Closing of Today Realty Advisors raises questions


German investor Brauss headed company. Questions are growing over the fate of a longtime Dallas commercial real estate firm that has been forced to close its offices.

Today Realty Advisors Inc. opened in Dallas in 1990 and has invested in hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of property here and in other markets.

On Nov. 25, a group of investors got a Dallas County district court to issue a temporary restraining order seeking to keep the Brausses and his companies from spending or transferring millions of dollars in funds held by various real estate partnerships. The investors also want an audit of the companies' financial records.

The landlord at Today Realty's office at 17400 Dallas Parkway locked the company out because of failure to pay rent. And several local real estate executives said this week that they don't know whether Brauss is still in Dallas or even in the U.S.

Brauss was born in Germany and moved to Canada in 1970, where he ran a large real estate operation.

Nineteen years ago, he moved to Dallas and set up Today Realty to buy undervalued properties with the backing of European and domestic investors.

The company started small, buying shopping centers and apartments. As it grew, Today Realty participated in large office and mixed-use developments.

Brauss is also a high-profile player in the Dallas arts scene. He's listed on the board of directors of the Dallas Opera and the board of governors for the Dallas Symphony.

He and his wife, Christine, were among the million-dollar donors to the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

Today Realty has kept a relatively low profile in a commercial real estate business known for big egos and high fliers.

In 2004, Brauss and his wife were featured in a Dallas Morning News story about wealthy buyers of luxury automobiles.

The year before, Today Realty got media attention after it filed a lawsuit to prevent lenders from foreclosing on the company's Churchill Tower office high-rise in North Dallas. The Galveston insurance company that funded the 12-story building on North Central Expressway ultimately took ownership.

In February, a land investment partnership that included Today Realty sought bankruptcy protection after lenders sought to foreclose on a Frisco development site.

The telephone number Today Realty lists for its Florida office is no longer in service.

An official in the company's Canada office said Thursday she could provide no information about the status of the company or how to reach anyone in the Dallas operation.

An Addison home Brauss owns is listed for sale for almost $2.5 million
Steve Brown/DMN