Why Goldenrod Companies’ Texas president is “bullish on office”
Nebraska-based developer making a major play for North Texas
Goldenrod is sprouting up everywhere.
The Omaha, Nebraska-based real estate company is making a major play for North Texas. Goldenrod Companies has firmly planted itself in Fort Worth’s Cultural District, the neighborhood anchored by Dickies Arena, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Kimbell Art Museum. Its two forthcoming mixed-use developments, the Van Zandt and One University, represent a nearly $500 million investment in the neighborhood.
About 35 miles east on Interstate 30, Goldenrod became one of the largest landowners in west Dallas in a 2023 deal with West Dallas Investments. It snapped up a 35 acre chunk of land in the Trinity Groves area, giving the firm the unique opportunity to build an urban district less than 2 miles from downtown Dallas.
The Real Deal sat down with John Zogg — a Crescent Real Estate alum who moved over to Goldenrod as president of the southwest region — to discuss the firm’s North Texas strategy.
What are your plans for West Dallas?
It’s a great piece of property. There’s a lot happening all around it. We think there’s a good opportunity for multifamily over there. If somebody would want to do an office campus, that’s an incredible spot. If Sands casino would like a spot, we could do that too. There are a lot of opportunities. Nothing’s off the table at this point. I would say the first phase will be high-rise multifamily.
The historically Latinx neighborhood of La Bajada has pretty vocally opposed development in the area that could lead to displacement. How is Goldenrod working with the community to develop this area?
We’re not changing zoning or doing anything outside of as-is rights. Everything we’re trying to do would be additive to the community – great amenities, more restaurants, more retail. I’ve met with a bunch of community groups, and I haven’t heard, “Don’t do what you’re doing.” Everybody seems supportive and knows something’s going to happen. We’re being very patient and cautious and doing a lot of thinking to make sure we do the right thing.
Both the Van Zandt and One University are located in Fort Worth’s Cultural District. Why did Goldenrod choose to invest there specifically?
Crescent validated a lot of people’s opinions about the Cultural District. Fort Worth is starved for new product. When I was at Crescent, we worked on that development. The hotel is doing great. The multifamily will do fantastic. Fortunately, Goldenrod accumulated these sites during Covid. Two mixed use projects in what I believe is the best market in all of Fort Worth. And virtually, I believe, Fort Worth is the best opportunity to invest in Texas. And they say Texas is the best market to invest in real estate in the country. Well, I say Fort Worth is probably the best one to go invest in. We’re super bullish on Fort Worth. That’s why you see us doing more than just those two projects.
What else does Goldenrod have planned for Fort Worth?
We’re one of two finalists to redevelop the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. Our original design was to start from scratch. But something kept gnawing at us. We decided to put the Scott Theater at the centerpiece of our development.
The Frost Building is the only Class A office in downtown Fort Worth. Given the dearth of this asset class, what do you see for the future of Fort Worth office space?
There is an incredible need. Covid taught us this. Uptown Dallas taught us this. People want walkable environments, and they want AA office space to recruit employees. The Crescent opened their building full. Now you have all of these banks and others are moving to the Crescent. Everybody else is saying, “How do I recruit?” For me, I’m incredibly bullish on office. If you’re going to attract people to the four walls of an office, you have to have offerings outside those four walls.
Speaking of office, Goldenrod just purchased Collins Crossing (at 1500 North Greenville Avenue in Richardson). What are your plans for the property, and what made it a good deal?
We were not in the market to go buy an office building. They’re hard to finance. It’s not ’80s vintage, but it needs some upgrades. They came to us at a good price. We said we were busy. We would do it at this price, which was lower, and they took it. Plus, it includes three and a half acres of land zoned for multifamily. It’s got a great tenant roster. We’re really excited about it. I hope I can find more office deals like that. We couldn’t pass it up.
What are your thoughts on the interest rate environment and distress in the market? Did you have trouble getting construction loans for these projects?
I think this is a time to be super patient. Location is more important than ever. We’ve executed very well. To me, this is almost a good thing. When it’s too frothy, you have too many people who don’t know what they’re doing, doing it. And so now you’re getting a lot of the experts back in the game.
Goldenrod has a pretty diverse range of projects in DFW. What’s next on the horizon for the firm in DFW and elsewhere?
We’re in the process of working on seven public-private partnerships with universities. We’re building student housing, research centers, arenas and hotels. That’s the next wave of development. We’ve worked with the University of Nebraska, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Colorado State.
How about Texas A&M?
Not yet. I would love to work with Texas A&M. I would love to work with the University of Texas.
Are there other DFW submarkets you’re bullish on?
For a commodity space of any kind, if you’re having trouble finding why you’re unique, and what the story is for why your asset is going to be great, you shouldn’t do it. I can tell you the story about each of those assets and why they’re going to be successful. It’s the same thing for a city.