Nebraska Furniture Mart wins New Development Deal of the Year Award

Apr 27, 2012

Dallas Business Journal - April 27, 2012 - by Candace Carlisle

Nebraska Furniture Mart Inc.'s planned $1.5 billion, 433-acre complex is expected to bring Texas-size development along State Highway 121 in The Colony.

The Omaha-based furniture retailer, which is owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK), acquired four separate land tracts south of State Highway 121 and east of Plano Parkway for its mixed-use development.

The project will be anchored by a 1.8-million-square-foot retail and distribution center for Nebraska Furniture Mart and would include 1.2 million square feet of warehouse space, a 546,000-square-foot showroom, and 25,000 square feet of regional corporate office space.

Plans for the complex include a theme park, hotel, restaurants and retail. It is expected to bring in 8 million customers a year and $600 million in sales.

"We showed them the entire Dallas-Fort Worth market," said Larry Leon, a partner at Venture Commercial and co-broker on the deal. "There weren’t that many tracts that could accommodate something of that magnitude. As they grew their expectations, it came down to city incentives."

Leon, Jonathan Cooper and Bob Moore of Dallas-based Venture Commercial consulted on the site selection and provided market analysis for the furniture retailer. The largest of the four land parcels is a 308-acre tract sold by Maharishi Global Development Fund.

David Davidson Jr. of Venture and David Davidson Sr. of Davidson Real Estate assisted Leon, Cooper and Moore in assembling other land parcels for the acquisition.

"We were competing with other brokerage firms and other cities," Leon said. "We did not have an exclusive going into the deal, which is unusual for us. We just kept trusting that if we did a great job that we would get it."

Venture Commercial spent several years working with Nebraska Furniture Mart before it confirmed that it would come to The Colony.

It's unusual for a municipality to give these incentives to a retailer, especially in Dallas-Fort Worth, but that wasn't the case for Nebraska Furniture Mart, Leon said. The Colony created a tax incremental reinvestment zone for the project.

Turner Construction Co. is the general contractor for the project.

Construction could finish by the end of 2015. By that time, Nebraska Furniture Mart plans to hire 1,700 full-time employees.

Bob Batt, executive vice president of Nebraska Furniture Mart, studied the Dallas-Fort Worth area for years and was struck by North Texas’ ease of highway systems that could aid access to The Colony and help the retailer gain visibility.

The retailer has three other locations in the United States, including Omaha, Neb.; Kansas City, Kan.; and Des Moines, Iowa.

In Kansas City, the retailer's development helped spur further development, including a Nascar racetrack, a minor league baseball park, nine hotels, 1 billion square feet of office space and other major retailers.

Bringing a development of this size to The Colony was all about location, said Jeff Lind, chief strategy and development officer for Nebraska Furniture Mart of Texas.

"To create the kind of development that would be a regional draw — and bring in customers from other states — it was important that the location be tied to a super-regional location," Lind said. "For us, it's all about bringing good value to our customers, and this site allowed us to do that."

Key Players:
Jonathan Cooper, Larry Leon, Bob Moore and David Davidson Jr., Venture Commercial Real Estate; David Davidson Sr., Davidson Real Estate Co.; Bob Batt, Ryan Blumkin and Jeff Lind, Nebraska Furniture Mart; Tod Maurina, Keri Samford and Troy Powell, The Colony; Chris McFadden, Turner Construction Co.; Mark Murray, Glast Phillips and Murray.