Monday, April 07, 2014

Gardere Wynne Sewell is joining the northward legal firm migration in Dallas

The lobby of Gardere's new building at McKinney and Olive will face on a landscaped plaza and park areas. (Crescent Real Estate)
When signature Dallas lawfirm Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP decided to go shopping for office space, the partners thought they’d have plenty of choices.
Then the downtown lawfirm’s partners found that you could count most of the workable options on one hand.
“We said, how can that be?” recalled partner Kevin Kelley.  “Ross Tower and Fountain Place were really our only two options with existing buildings.
“And we talked with three developers.”
After considering a new building in Billingsley Co.’s Arts Plaza project and Harwood International’s Uptown development, Gardere picked Crescent Real Estate’s planned 20-story office highrise at McKinney Avenue and Olive Street.
Trading its 25-year-old digs in the Thanksgiving Tower in Dallas’ old financial district for a new location on the north side was a logical choice for Gardere.
Most of the big legal firm’s peers have already made the move from older buildings downtown.
Haynes and Boone headed to Victory Park. Winstead when to Harwood’s project near the Crescent.
Thompson & Knight is in the Arts District.
Gardere for 25 years has been located in the Thanksgiving Tower on Elm Street. (DMN files)
And Jackson Walker has signed a lease to move to Hall Financial’s office tower under construction on Ross Avenue across from the Myerson Symphony Center.
Gardere considered remodeling its current space in Thanksgiving Tower but passed on the idea.
“The notion of trying to retrofit our old space into the new age would be extremely disruptive to our business,” said chairman Holland O’Neil.
And she says there’s some cache with that new McKinney Avenue address.
“We are in the service business, and there is a lot to be said for reputation and how the firm is perceived in the market,” O’Neil said. “If you look at our competitors and where they are moving, that was a big influence for us.”
Crescent Real Estate CEO John Goff said Gardere’s move from Elm Street to McKinney will make it easier for the first to retain its current employees and attract new talent.
“They view this building as an imp part of their repositioning and marketing campaign,” Goff said. “I suspect when it’s all said and done 80 percent of their young professionals will be living within waking distance of that building.”