News Article | 2/15/2024

Why Deloitte considers the timing right for massive Westlake campus expansion

Heidi Soltis-Berner added oversight of Deloitte LLP’s U.S. real estate strategy to her responsibilities as managing director for Deloitte University in 2019.

About six months later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

While it wasn’t something Soltis-Berner could have expected or predicted, she said she believes it brought opportunities, along with challenges. Soltis-Berner applied experience from her role with Deloitte University, an offering for employees and clients involving leadership and technical training, to what she had gained during her 30-year tenure with the professional services firm.

That culminated in an examination of the firm’s real estate and Deloitte University and what it meant to get people together in-person for the right reasons for the moments that matter.

“We saw the innate value as we were coming back [to the office] and the experience of our people, but how did that translate to their everyday world when they are with clients and having different development experiences?” said Soltis-Berner, who is based in Dallas. “Was it a magical five- to 10-year plan? No, but it has come along at the right time with the right experiences.”

It has already been a big year for real estate moves for Deloitte in North Texas. The firm announced in January plans to move its longtime base in downtown Dallas to Uptown’s forthcoming 23Springs development.

Discussions during the pandemic also helped Deloitte determine it was the right time to expand its Westlake university campus about 30 miles northwest of Dallas.

“We spent a lot of time during 2020, 2021 and 2022 talking about the importance of Deloitte University and started to work with our board and leadership to make the decision to expand,” Soltis-Berner said.

Deloitte University’s North Texas hub was the firm’s first, launching in 2011. The program has grown to include five more locations in Paris, Mexico City, Singapore, Toronto and Hyderabad, India.

The firm considers its university campuses to be cultural hubs. In a typical year, Deloitte University brings in about 75,000 guests and delivers 1 million learning hours across the program.

The expansion in Westlake, which broke ground in April, is massive. In July 2022, Tarrant County approved a $5.1 million tax break that requires Deloitte to invest at least $300 million, create 25 new jobs and retain a minimum of 455 workers. Average salaries at Deloitte’s existing university campus come in at $90,000 a year, with the average annual payroll adding up to more than $27 million.

Deloitte is building 500 to 600 sleeping rooms — in addition to its existing 800 — along with learning classrooms, client spaces and other amenities. All in, Deloitte projects it will gain 600,000 square feet in new development to pair with its current 700,000-square-foot campus.

The firm also purchased 118 adjacent acres in 2021, tacking the land onto its existing 117 acres in the Circle T Ranch area. Part of that will accommodate the expansion that is underway, while some is slated for potential future phases.

Deloitte expects the university expansion to be completed in late 2025.

Deloitte’s strategy around the university offering comes to life with Soltis-Berner’s roles, which merge the tangibility of real estate with the philosophical nature of the workplace environment.

“As I think about either Deloitte University or our workplaces that we have today and that they are evolving forward to, it’s about creating a community that allows for individuals to learn, develop, connect, collaborate, counsel with one another and bring that to life,” she said.

Read more