News Article | 3/10/2022

Perot’s Hillwood designs the Circle T Ranch to round up relocating companies

A historic North Texas ranch is being offered to relocating companies that want a new home on the range.

The 2,500-acre Circle T Ranch in Westlake already has lassoed a stable full of big business names, including Fidelity Investments, Deloitte and — most recently — Charles Schwab.

The rolling property northeast of Fort Worth has been owned by Dallas’ Perot family since 1993. Ross Perot Jr. paid Dallas oilman Nelson Bunker Hunt less than $20 million for the horse and cattle spread on State Highway 114.

A new development plan for the storied property — called the Campuses at Circle T — will provide locations for a half dozen or more corporate campuses surrounding a sprawling park.

For companies from California and other locations looking for new digs in North Texas, the Circle T project should catch eyes.

“It’s what they really want to see,” Perot said. “Where else in town can you have 100-acre campuses?

“It has the best demographics in North Texas,” he said. “You are 15 to 20 minutes from DFW Airport and Alliance.”

Perot said the new Circle T plans are already being shown to potential corporate relocation clients. “We are giving these companies a vision of what they can do,” he said.

Architect Gensler did the new designs for Circle T, creating a series of distinct business centers surrounding the new park.

“This will become a very large public park for the region,” Perot said. “We are planting 50,000 trees out there.

“Especially after COVID, you want to have really beautiful facilities embed in nature,” he said. “We have hills and trees and beauty that is unique in this part of the country.”

Instead of high-rises, the planned office buildings will be constructed in clusters around the new park.

“We decided to create something really extraordinary out of the large swath of land that cuts through the west side of the ranch,” said Hillwood senior vice president Steve Aldrich. “It’s almost 300 acres and will be a huge natural amenity to the property.”

Hillwood has hired Virginia-based landscape architect Nelson Byrd Woltz to design the new park, which is already under construction.

“We have planned about 10 million square feet of office campus sites that are really centered around this central park,” Aldrich said. “It will be the central park for this part of North Texas.

“We have chosen to master-plan the project around the park and have identified the first six or seven corporate sites.”

Aldrich said the park property will be restored to its natural state, with part of the land used for landscaped areas, walking trails, pavilions and gathering places. Work is already underway to plant trees and create water features for the new park.

“This is a legacy project for us,” he said. “The one thing unique about this property is the physical characteristics of this land.”

Circle T Ranch has taken a long path from rural retreat to corporate enclave.

In the 1930s, the then-remote property was owned by Dallas newspaper publisher Ted Dealey, who had a weekend home on part of the ranch.

In the late 1940s, the ranch sold to J. Glenn Turner, who added to the land and raised horses on the property. Turner — one of the founders of the town of Westlake — named his spread Circle T.

Dallas oilman Nelson Bunker Hunt bought the ranch in the late 1960s and continued to run horses and cattle on the spread. Hunt sold the Circle T to Perot after running into financial difficulties stemming from his well-known failed attempt to corner the silver market.

Perot’s Hillwood has considered multiple development plans for the Circle T, including a regional shopping mall before those projects fell out of fancy.

In 2000, Fidelity Investments opened its campus as the first big corporate player to plant a flag at Circle T.

New York-based financial services giant Deloitte LLP landed at the Circle T in 2008 with plans for a $300 million campus.

And Charles Schwab Corp. began opening its new Circle T headquarters in late 2019 after moving its headquarters here from San Francisco. Schwab now houses thousands of workers at its corporate offices near Highway 114 and has continued to grow its employment over the last year. The firm still plans to add buildings.

Near the Schwab campus, Hillwood is working on plans for an urban village that will serve the new office centers.

“That will be more mixed-use in nature, with restaurants, hospitality, retail, etc.,” Aldrich said.