|The proposed Dallas Midtown development on the site of Valley View Center|
mall in North Dallas is on AT&T's possible headquarters list.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
AT&T shopping Valley View mall site as potential HQ location
An almost $300 million plan to redevelop North Dallas' Valley View Center mall has caught the eye of downtown's biggest business.
AT&T has put the LBJ Freeway shopping mall site on a short list of potential headquarters locations for the telecom giant, three property brokers with knowledge of the discussions say.
But longtime real estate executives are still betting AT&T will keep its thousands of workers downtown after a review of possible office options.
AT&T -- which earlier this year hired commercial real estate brokers to evaluate its long-term head office needs -- is also looking at several downtown properties where it could build a new campus, real estate brokers who are tracking the deal say.
"They are an important tenant for downtown, and I would be surprised if they left," said Joel Pustmueller, one of the founders of commercial real estate firm Peloton Commercial Real Estate. "They are one of downtown's biggest corporate citizens."
AT&T relocated its headquarters from San Antonio to downtown Dallas in 2008 and occupies several buildings on South Akard Street at Commerce Street. The largest is a 37-story Whitacre Tower, which is topped by the telecom firm's blue sign.
AT&T still has several years left on its office leases downtown, and the company could decide to stay in its current properties.
But if AT&T opts for newer office digs -- the kind of modern work spaces being built for Toyota, State Farm Insurance and others -- it could take years to design and build.
Demolition is set to begin late this year on the mostly vacant, 43-year-old Valley View Mall on LBJ Freeway to make way for a new mixed-use development with offices, shops, apartments and entertainment built around a park.
Developer Beck Ventures -- now with the financial backing of Crescent Real Estate -- has been working on the project called Dallas Midtown for several years.
Ross Perot Jr.'s Hillwood Urban development firm recently announced plans for a new office tower on part of the property.
Just the fact that the Dallas Midtown project is on AT&T's HQ list shows the potential for the development at LBJ and Preston Road.
AT&T representatives declined to comment on Dallas Midtown or talk about how its office considerations are going. The brokers spoke on condition of anonymity.
Commercial real estate firm CBRE has been representing AT&T as it looks at headquarters options.
Along with the Valley View site, AT&T is also scoping out development options at Victory Park near the Arts District and around the site of the old Reunion Arena on the southwest side of downtown, property agents say.
Because of the importance of commuter rail to AT&T's workers and with the company's sponsorship of the performing arts center in the Arts District, the central business district should be the company's first pick, real estate brokers say.
"I would be quite shocked they would truly consider leaving the central business district," said Mike Wyatt, executive vice president with Cushman & Wakefield. "I think it's a part of their culture and long-term vision for Dallas.
"They have always made that clear," Wyatt said. "They are the trophy firm."
Wyatt said AT&T's current offices -- despite recent improvements -- are somewhat outdated compared with the latest large work centers.
And he's not surprised that the Valley View location landed on AT&T's radar.
"I think they will take a hard look at it," he said. "All good negotiations have to bring in alternative sites."
Expect Dallas' political and downtown business leaders to pull out all the stops to keep AT&T's headquarters in the city's core.
"Keeping AT&T headquartered downtown continues to be a priority, and we will do everything possible to achieve that objective," said John Crawford with Downtown Dallas Inc.
With almost $150 billion in revenue, AT&T is the largest company based in the city of Dallas.
So far none of the possible headquarters sites mentioned for AT&T are outside of Dallas.
AT&T is one of the top employers in North Texas with more than 15,000 workers.
Written by Steve Brown/Dallas Morning News