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UW Real Estate Club Travels to Dallas

by Staff Friday, March 29, 2013

The UW-Madison Real Estate Club left a cold, wintery Wisconsin to immerse themselves in the warm and sunny Dallas, Texas real estate market March 13-15, 2013. With the help of Wisconsin real estate alumni in Dallas, the club met with an array of real estate professionals and visited development sites and many unique property types. The group kicked off the trip with an alumni reception generously hosted by the Dallas chapter of WREAA. Thursday morning started with an informational session with Lone Star Funds/Hudson Advisors at City Place Tower. The group learned about the distressed debt business and how Hudson acquires and manages its debt portfolios. The vice presidents talked about their interesting—and sometimes surprising—visits to distressed properties and how they work with lenders to settle outstanding loans. Some key takeaways shared with the upcoming real estate professionals: be very comfortable with reading legal, financial, and leasing documents; understand how to properly value property; and develop strong skills in Excel modeling and presentation.

Next, the group moved on to tour an apartment complex currently under construction, L2 Uptown, and a similar completed project, Allure of West Village. Both projects are built and funded by JLB Partners and Northwestern Mutual. The luxury urban apartment was an attractive sight for the students, especially the relaxation courtyard with resort-style swimming pool, which was certainly very alluring on the warm, sunny day. The next meeting was one of a different flavor. David Rodriquez, vice president and director of sustainability for Ware Architecture Studio, discussed a very unique development: Deck Park, formally named Klyde Warren Park, a five-acre park over the recessed eight-lane Woodall Rodgers Freeway. A feat of engineering and design, the deck was constructed by placing over 300 concrete beams over the recessed highway in between three city blocks. The park, which connects the vibrant uptown with the downtown and Dallas Arts District, was designed by award-winning landscape architect Jim Burnett. His design creates a sense of discovery as visitors move to different “rooms” throughout the park, making this park a great intercity Dallas destination. After the presentation, the students visited the park to experience the hustle and bustle of the empty space turned play area. Children and adults alike were enjoying the weather, tossing around footballs, playing table tennis, sun bathing, and cooling off in the interactive fountains. Even our four-legged friends have a designated area in the park, aptly named “My Best Friend’s Park.”

Deck Park

Arial view of Deck Park from the top of Museum Tower

After a trip to the top of the 42-story Museum Tower, a brand new residential high-rise which recently opened in January, the group was off to another real estate project unlike any of the others: the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. The group was greeted by the museum owner’s representative and the EVP of Hillwood, the project’s developer, who discussed the uniqueness of the museum’s design amongst the lively, sold-out crowd of children and adults. The state-of-the-art LEED building was a unique and popular stop, as you could tell from the energetic crowds interacting with the many hands-on exhibits that are packed into five floors. In fact, membership numbers surpassed the initial forecasts predicted, and the museum is definitely living up to its core mission: inspiring minds through nature and science. The day ended at the historic campus of Crow Holdings, where the group listened to a presentation on the Hilton Anatole, the hotel where the group lodged for the two-day trip, and then an overview of the current developments on the property. 


Model display of Crow Holdings' buildings and developments

On Friday, the group went on a VIP tour of the Dallas Cowboys' stadium, with special guests from the general contractor on the project, Manhattan Construction. The stadium, which opened in 2009, boasts a monumental steel arch frame made from Luxembourg steel, since why would Jerry source steel from the city of one of their biggest rivals, Pittsburgh? It’s the largest domed stadium in the world, and can transform from a fully enclosed indoor stadium to an outdoor stadium by use of its retractable ceiling and walls. It includes many clubs and suites, and thousands of TVs so you’ll never miss a play. The most notable TV in the stadium hangs from the steel frame of the building weighing in at 1.2 million pounds and displaying 26,000 square feet of high-definition TV, which also has 3-D capabilities.

 Stadium Steel Frame

Steel arch frame for the Dallas Cowboys' stadium 

The study trip to Texas ended in Fort Worth, where the group received a special presentation from the president of Sundance Square, Johnny Campbell. Sundance Square is a 35-block downtown area in Fort Worth boasting two high-rise office buildings and dozens more historical and redeveloped mixed use buildings. At the center of it all is a central plaza that will certainly bring an energetic buzz to the city when it’s fully completed in November 2013. Bookended by two buildings—one hosting café space which spills into the square and the other a full-use stage—the completely programmable central plaza at will soon be the destination of thousands who want to experience the arts and entertainment that is drawn to this area of Fort Worth.

Sundance Square Model 

Model display of Sundance Square

The Real Estate Club would like to extend a huge thanks to the WREAA Dallas chapter alumni for arranging a very diverse trip to Texas. Special thanks to Dan Soyka (MBA '10), Joel Behrens (MBA '08), Gretchen Frankenthal (BBA '08), and Chris Hammes (MBA '11) for urging the group to come visit the excitement that is the Dallas real estate market. Students left the trip inspired by the northeastern Texan city and excited for opportunities to re-visit the location, whether it be for a new job or as a destination for a future vacation.  


Group photo on the roof of Museum Tower