Dallas’ Hunt Realty focuses on big deals at home
The developer has hired a new president and is plotting a new course with huge projects in Frisco, Uptown Dallas and downtown.
The Northend Apartments are easy to overlook.
Located just north of downtown Dallas, the rental community was built in the 1990s.
That was before Victory Park came to be and when Uptown was more of an aspiration than a boomtown.
Now the Northend is surrounded on all sides by towering buildings, and owner Hunt Realty Investments thinks it’s one of the biggest real estate redevelopment opportunities in town.
“What has happened right around Northend over the last few years has only served to enhance the value of that site and create more opportunity for something truly unique and special,” said Chris Kleinert, CEO of Hunt Consolidated Investments.
After years of investing in property companies and developments around the country, the Dallas-based firm is concentrating on opportunities at home.
“When Hunt Realty was founded several decades ago, its focus was on Dallas and North Texas,” said company executive chairman Ray L. Hunt. “Subsequently, our focus expanded to projects across the country.
“Today, however, the strongest real estate market in the country is North Texas,” he said. “We therefore are going back to our roots, with North Texas being our primary focus.”
The Northend property in Uptown, Frisco’s more than 2,500-acre Fields development and downtown Dallas’ landmark Reunion project are the base on which Hunt Realty and its parent company Hunt Consolidated hope to build a new real estate program.
““We are very fortunate in that we currently have three major projects in different phases of development — each of which are ‘world class’ in nature,” Hunt said.
As part of the plan to refocus its efforts, Hunt Realty has hired a new president from one of Dallas’ most successful commercial property firms.
Colin Fitzgibbons, formerly a senior vice president of KDC, is now president of Hunt Realty.
Fitzgibbons brings 10 years of experience to the table with the company that built some of the Dallas area’s biggest real estate projects, including Richardson’s $1.5 billion CityLine development and the $3 billion Legacy West in Plano.
“Colin is joining us at a perfect time,” Hunt said. “He has a very full platter.”
Hunt Realty is a familiar player on the North Texas real estate scene.
The company headed by the son of legendary Texas oil tycoon H.L. Hunt changed the Dallas skyline in the 1970s with its investment in the Reunion project, which includes its Hyatt Regency Hotel and signature observation tower.
In 2018, Hunt Realty headed a group of investors and developers that bought the 2,544-acre Headquarters Ranch on the Dallas North Tollway, the largest undeveloped tract in Frisco.
They are turning the land into a $10 billion development that includes the PGA of America’s new headquarters with two golf courses and an Omni resort hotel, more than 10,000 homes and up to 18 million square feet of commercial space.
“We decided a couple years ago to redirect our strategy back — going back to our roots of investing in projects and developing sites right here in North Texas,” Kleinert said. “That shift opened the door for us to become passionate about, and ultimately acquiring, the Fields estate property in Frisco and rethinking development possibilities of our two most significant assets, Reunion and Northend.
“This is our home,” he said. “To be more active ourselves in our neighborhood was a pretty important factor.”
Built in the 1990s, the Northend Apartments just north of downtown Dallas are surrounded by high-rise construction.
The prospect of working on the big developments in Frisco, Uptown and downtown Dallas attracted Fitzgibbons to Hunt Realty.
Fitzgibbons said there’s “probably a career’s worth of development in each of those three projects. They say they want to make an outsized impact on the communities we do business in.
“That is one of the things that spoke to me,” he said. “Another great reason for joining Hunt is the outstanding and experienced team already in place.”
These projects have years of planning and construction ahead of them.
“More than two thousand acres in Frisco — to develop that amount of land takes time,” Fitzgibbons said. “The same thing is true for the Northend.
“That’s 11 acres in the heart of our urban center.”
Hunt Realty is working on plans for what will eventually replace the more than 500 apartments on the Northend site. The zoning allows towers like the ones next door at Victory Park or at Union Dallas, which just sold for the highest price ever paid for such a project.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity,” Fitzgibbons said. “Sites like this don’t come around every day. Like any great urban core, in Dallas it’s hard to find 1 acre let alone 11 acres.”
Hunt still has 21 acres available for development at Reunion at the southwest corner of downtown.
“With Reunion there is the opportunity to do something truly unique given the hotel is there and the tower is there,” Fitzgibbons said. “It’s on every postcard.
“It’s an iconic part of downtown.”