News Article | 4/22/2011

New Deloitte complex is big, even by Texas standards

To see the biggest commercial real estate project now being built in North Texas, it helps to have a helicopter.

International accounting giant Deloitte’s new Westlake campus is so large that the only way to take it all in is from the air.

 The 750,000-square-foot corporate training facility sprawls across the rolling landscape of the Circle T Ranch northwest of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

 Almost 500 permanent workers will be housed in Deloitte University when it opens late this year.

But the 35 classrooms and housing for “students” will accommodate tens of thousands of Deloitte professionals who’ll visit the facility each year.

The five-story building looks pretty much like a luxury resort as it curves along the shore of a man-made lake that’s still under construction.

 The project is estimated to cost about $300 million, making it by far the largest and most expensive private-sector commercial building under way in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Visitors to the facility will need roller skates to get from one end of the long, narrow complex to the other — more than the length of two football fields.

The folks at Hillwood, developers of the Circle T Ranch and the AllianceTexas complex, let me hitch a ride on one of their helicopters this week to see the new Deloitte campus.

Even with all the large corporate facilities that Hillwood has had a hand in building in north Tarrant and Denton counties over the years, the Deloitte building is a standout.

 “They expect 45,000 people a year will come through the facility,” said Mike Berry, president of Hillwood Properties. “I don’t think we yet realize what the impact of this will be.”

To put it in perspective, 28,000 people work in the entire AllianceTexas project.

Although the Deloitte campus has been under constriction for almost two years, it’s pretty much invisible from nearby highways.

“You can’t see it from the road because it sits down in the valley behind trees and hills,” Berry said.

Along with 800 hotel rooms, the project will have “fitness, dining, outdoor jogging trails and a number of on-site recreation activities,” he said.

There’s an amphitheater, ballroom and dining facilities, too.

San Francisco-based Gensler is the architect on the project.

Hillwood won the Deloitte project after the company looked at multiple locations.

 “It was the first such global competition we had with locations around the world,” company founder Ross Perot Jr. said.