News Article | 7/1/2008

Deloitte Eyeing Q1 Start for $300M Legacy Build

WESTLAKE, TX-With the dust now settling over the land deal, Deloitte LLP is eyeing a first-quarter 2009 groundbreaking on its first leadership and development center in the world. The $300-million initiative will create a resort-style oasis on 107 acres at the center of Hillwood’s Circle T Ranch.

Jon Eisele, partner in the New York City-based global firm, says the design work should be done by late fall for the 750,000-sf to 800,000-sf development portal for its worldwide team. The decision-making process for the location began in January 2007, with six or seven cities in the Central US and Midwest vying for the win.

Sources tell that the best and final ended five months ago, tossing the win to Hillwood’s 2,500-acre Circle T off Texas 114 as buyer and seller hunkered down to push the land sale across the finish line. The best and final had pitted two sites in Dallas/Fort Worth against one in Chicago. A team from Dallas-based Staubach Co. was at Deloitte’s side for the entire process.

Eisele says Deloitte’s strategy is to develop a corporate-owned campus dedicated to staff development and conferences for its global network, driving the RFP’s mandate to be close to an international airport. “It will pay rewards for our firm for many generations after us,” he says, stressing it’s not intended to be a regional campus to replace its four offices in North Texas or possible headquarters location down the road. Although it’s a one-off project, he didn’t rule out the possibility that centers one day could dot other regions in the world. “We’ll just have to see what happens,” he says.

Eisele says Deloitte is finalizing another contract related to the project–the asset management pact, which should be put to bed in six weeks. Deloitte will seed the campus with 100 full-time jobs while the management team is expected to have at least 400 workers staffing a resort-style center with 800 guest rooms, at least two private restaurants, recreational facility, business center and fitness facility. Because the design’s being fine-tuned, the space allocations are a moving target. The center, still awaiting an official name, is slated to deliver in 2011.

Hillwood will build two roads to the interior site as its stake in the campus project. The marquee will be a ranch-style entrance off Westlake Parkway and the other, strictly a service road. “We have negotiated a coordinated construction schedule into one master schedule,” says Michael Berry, president of Hillwood Properties. The project’s importance had Berry leading a negotiating team that included Bill Burton, Russell Laughlin, Joseph Schneider and in-house counsel Donald Reid.

As soon as Deloitte released the news yesterday, Berry says he had a telephone call from Hillwood’s mixed-use partner, Chicago-based General Growth Properties Inc., to discuss the long-awaited 1.3-million-sf Shops at Circle T. “They were talking about the project and thinking what we need to do about our retail plan to accommodate this type of project,” he says.

Berry says the Deloitte campus will be self-contained, but still could be the last piece of the foundation to advance the JV’s retail resort plan. The Shops at Circle T’s groundswell of demand already includes Boston-based Fidelity Investment’s 330-acre campus, where a $200-million, 600,000-sf expansion is under way, and Scottsdale, AZ-headquartered Discovery Land Co., which is planting a 400-acre golf community in Circle T’s midst.

Berry says he knows of only a few corporate-owned campuses in the US dedicated to leadership and development. “This is really a strategic investment by a global company in its people,” he stresses. “It’s not a resort. It’s not a hotel, not a conference center and not an office project. It’s all of that.”