Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dallas Retail Getting Global Attention

Forget New York City. Dallas has moved ahead of most of the nation’s biggest cities as a retail destination, we learned Tuesday at Bisnow’s DFW Real Estate Summit. The newest chi-chi retailer coming to Dallas: Mulberry of London.

About 300 gathered at the Westin Galleria where NorthPark Center director Derek Wood tells us the shopping center landed Mulberry for the newest exclusive store over Las Vegas as well as the big cities in Germany and Asia. NorthPark is set for its best year yet, trending toward $1.2B in sales for 2014, Derek says.

Henry S. Miller Brokerage retail division prez Michael Dee says leasing is strong and should continue that way into next year. He says restaurants are leading the way in retail. About three out of every five calls his team receives is about food operators, he says. Shopping centers are evolving to provide more than quality retailers, but also bringing in entertainment and ways to keep shoppers there longer, he says.

We found one of the panel moderators, Retail Solutions founder David Simmonds (right, with Marvin F Poer & Co’s Justin Goertz and Retail Solutions’ AJ Aguire). David started the company in 2009 and has grown it to cover all of Texas with offices in DFW, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, McAllen, Harlingen, Laredo, and Uvalde. A David fun fact: his favorite song is Kidd Rock’s Bawitdaba.

Panelist Peak Franchise Capital managing partner Mike Elliott (right, with a panel moderator, Holmes Firm’s Ron Holmes) says consumers are eating up fast casual restaurants like Mooyah, Five Guys, Snappy Salads, and Panera. Consumers are looking for healthier/better-prepared options than fast-food. The costs of starting a fast casual place can range from $400k to $800k, he says. The way to make money is to have about 2 ½ to 3 times the investment ratio and have good margins despite the higher costs of construction and land.

Chipotle real estate manager Lisa Burbey says fast casual is still in its infancy. The food is often better because they’re chef-driven concepts. Chefs aren’t opening the large sit-down restaurants, but finding vehicles for their concepts to serve their food, hopefully in a more profitable way with less risk, she says. Other chains are looking at the Chipotle model with foods from salads to baked potatoes, she says. Lisa teased our taste buds by revealing that Chipotle is testing two new concepts right now.

Panelist BKM Sowan Horan partner Rick Sowan (right, with his team Aaron McPhie, Daniele Cunningham, and Jessica Honey) says restaurants like IHOP and Applebee’s are mitigating costs by doing sale-leasebacks. That market was dead three to four years ago, but now it's the first place large franchisees look, he says.

We gathered up the team for event sponsor Ridgemont Commercial Construction: Sam Balunda, Jeff Stucker, Joey Johnson, Micah Cunningham, Tabette Stewart, Jason Lillard, and Tim Smith. Jeff tells us Ridgemont was established in 1976 and handles retail, healthcare, industrial, office, and institutional projects. The firm is working on multiple projects for Sprouts Farmers Markets and Whole Foods. Ridgemont is also nearing the final phases on the THR Integrated Health Campus in Willow Park and the 600k SF City of Fort Worth Police and Fire Training Complex. Ridgemont was also awarded the 350k SF Wildlife Commerce Park II industrial project in Grand Prairie.

Event sponsor WLS Lighting's Ken Bronstad (left, with Venture’s Wes Bowen) tells us the firm has been manufacturing site lighting products since 1969 and provides free lighting design and budgets direct to owners, designers, consultants, and contractors. WLS recently re-illuminated Dallas' W Hotel garage with LEDs, which included a $39k rebate from Oncor.

The Gates of Prosper just finished an agreement with the City and event sponsor Prosper Economic Development Corp to start on the next phase of infrastructure to prepare for the 600-acre project, we learned from event sponsor Prosper EDC’s Garrett Weaver and Sam Blatt. Garrett tells us the first phase of the project will be a 300k SF power center in the project, which is on the north side of Hwy 380 and Preston Road. A groundbreaking could occur next year on the project, he says.

We found Mark One Capital’s Chris Parker with event sponsor VCC’s Derek Alley. Derek tells us Downtown Summerlin in Las Vegas opened Oct. 9. VCC was the GC for the project, which is the largest retail development to open in the US since the downturn. The 1.6M SF project was developed by the Howard Hughes Corp.