Thursday, January 26, 2017

Exclusive: Design District investors land $120M to add to 'war chest'

The iconic Dallas Design District — a 33-acre, 700,000-square-foot property — and its well-heeled investors have landed a $120 million permanent loan from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., creating enough money to help the district land new tenants.

The terms of the loan, which was secured by Hamilton Realty Finance on behalf of Dunhill Partners, were undisclosed.
"We re-financed the property to consolidate two loans into one loan, which was bigger because the value of the district has increased," William "Bill" Hutchinson, president of Dallas-based Dunhill Partners, told the Dallas Business Journal, in an exclusive interview.

"This enabled us to bring more equity in on behalf of the Design District partners without bringing in new equity," Hutchinson added.

Since acquiring the property three years ago, Dunhill Partners and its group of well-heeled investors — which include the likes of Tim Headington and Ray Washburne — have benefited from a district on the rise in Dallas, which has added thousands of apartments and hundreds of square feet of retail space. Last year, Mark Cuban acquired a portion of the district for his team's new $70 million practice facility.

And construction began on Dallas' first Virgin Hotels in October (about $5 million of the new permanent loan will help fund the development of the new boutique hotel), which got underway in grand fashion with Sir Richard Branson arriving at the groundbreaking ceremony atop a white horse with Miss Texas Caroline Carothers.

The Design District property also includes a 7.5-acre Decorative Center complex at Oak Lawn and Hi Line avenues, as well as the 18-acre Dallas Design Center along Stemmons Freeway and dozens of retail shops and showrooms.

"We are continuing to do capital improvements, with or without the funds from this particular loan," Hutchinson said, adding that another $5 million of capital improvements are being set aside for improvements tied to new tenants.
"New tenants always cost money and this adds to our war chest to go out and land new tenants," he added.

The Design District property is 99 percent leased, but Hutchinson said he's working through some office lease deals tied to a new 17-story, 267,780-square-foot office tower at 1640 Edison St. at the corner of Edison and Stemmons Freeway. If completed, this would bring some major lead office tenants to kick off the project.

The tenants could be architectural firms, design companies or other Design District like-minded tenants, Hutchinson said.

He is also shopping another boutique hotel concept behind Oak along Stemmons Freeway to a number of potential hotel developers. San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre is one of the potential hotel groups in the running, but Hutchinson said he has yet to officially select a brand.

Candace Carlisle/Dallas Business Journal.

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