How Gerald Hines built an $89B real estate empire

Texas-based firm controls 450 buildings on five continents

Rendering of 53 West 53rd Street, the Lipstick Building at 885 Third Avenue and Gerald Hines
Rendering of 53 West 53rd Street, the Lipstick Building at 885 Third Avenue and Gerald Hines

Developer Gerald Hines’ namesake firm Hines controls some $89 billion worth of real estate on five continents. But the 91-year-old developer’s big break came in the 1960s when he pitched a group of Shell executives on a Houston office tower by showing them a set of bronze door handles, and promising to outfit the entire development with equally high-end hardware if the oil company would serve as the tower’s anchor tenant.

The pitch worked, and today the Hines family is worth $2 billion with a massive real estate empire that includes property and asset management holdings that include 450 buildings on five continents, including iconic projects such as the Lipstick Building in Manhattan and Goldman Sachs’ Jersey City tower, according to Bloomberg.

While the firm is recognized for pushing the boundaries, Hines’ [TRDataCustom] longevity is tied to the family patriarch’s foresight during the 1970s oil crash, when he reduced his risk by pulling in equity partners. Hines made a similar move in 2014 when oil prices plummeted amidst the firm’s $1.7 billion development spree in Houston.

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Gerald Hines launched his real estate empire in Houston in 1957. In 1966, he landed Shell as the anchor tenant of a 50-story tower his young firm was building. The deal was a coup for Hines, who parlayed the credibility and success to develop eye-catching headquarters in Houston for Penzoil and Texas Commerce.

Today, Hines is developing the “MoMA” condominium at 53 West 53rd Street in Manhattan. The firm is also partnering with REIT Welltower to create a 15-story luxury assisted living facility for seniors at 156 East 56th Street[Bloomberg] — E.B. Solomont