The world of economic development is often focused on big deals with large corporations. These are the stories that make headlines and get the most attention. But the Allen Economic Development Corporation is just as committed to helping new startups as it is to assisting large companies.
“We often get calls from businesses that just have two or three employees because they’re brand-new, and we want to be able to provide resources to help those new businesses grow here in Allen,” says Dan Bowman, Executive Director at the Allen EDC.
That’s also why the city has set a long-term goal of creating an incubator facility in Allen, which could offer services to new businesses such as office space at a reduced rate, shared services, management training, and networking opportunities.
“Most of your new jobs are created by smaller businesses,” Bowman says. “So, while we always want to encourage existing companies to relocate to Allen, we also want to have a unified strategy to help small businesses.”
One step in this strategy will happen on April 7, when the AEDC hosts its first Open Innovation event, in partnership with The Bridge Alliance. The luncheon will be at the Hilton Garden Inn in Allen and feature networking opportunities, as well as a line-up of renowned speakers on the topic of Open Innovation.
Innovation isn’t found in a vacuum. It takes partnerships, connections, and the ability to look beyond your four walls to see what’s happening outside, says Ken Koo, the founder and CEO of the Bridge Alliance. Helping to facilitate those connections is the goal of The Bridge, Koo explains—to bridge gaps between large corporations, small start-ups and the academic world—for the benefit of all.
Koo launched his company last fall, after being heavily involved in the startup community and serving as an angel investor for a number of years. In his research he noticed that, despite the ever-growing number of startups in the Dallas area, there was a divide between start-up companies and large corporations.
Keeping it hyper-local
With the idea of changing the status quo and fostering partnerships, Koo began planning the Open Innovation events. The City of Allen proved to be an ideal location.
“I knew that we wanted to go somewhere north of LBJ so we could be hyper-local to the businesses in the area,” he explains. “Allen was very open to the concept and they’re also very good at recognizing the importance of long-term sustainability when it comes to the businesses that they attract.”
Allen’s size, affordable real estate and the fact that they already have a number of well-established corporate offices also make the city the perfect climate for small businesses and new start-ups. “There’s an entire vendor eco-system that exists when connections are being made and deals are happening,” Koo says. “Many start-ups don’t have a home yet, so if they get a contract with a business like KONE or Jack Henry, they’re probably going to move to Allen.”
“Connecting Allen businesses with innovative solutions from the startup and academic community drives economic development,” he says. “We’re excited to be hosting the first Open Innovation event to play a leading role in an effort that benefits established companies and helps incubate startup ventures.”
What do the Trump International Tower in Chicago, the Washington D.C. Transit System, Madison Square Garden in New York, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and The Gateway Arch in St. Louis all have in common?
They all use KONE elevators. And they’re all connected back to Allen, Texas.
KONE, which is pronounced [Cone-Ay], was started in Finland in 1910 and expanded to the U.S. in 1981. In 2010, the global leader in the elevator and escalator industry consolidated operations into a nearly 25,000-sq-ft. office space in Allen Central Park. At the same time, they moved their central tool storage facility to nearby Twin Creeks Business Center.
They are the lead tenant in first phase of AllenPlace, which is currently under construction east of North Central Expressway between West Bethany and West McDermott Drives. The $26 million initial phase of the five-building, 700,000-square-foot office park will keep KONE growing and include additional office space and improved testing facilities. The company will occupy the entire first building and a portion of the second building in the office park.
Approximately 80 positions will be added at the new Allen facility, says Patrick O’Connell, a spokesman for the company. “KONE AllenPlace will be home to a variety of skilled employees, from sourcing and supply chain specialists; research and development engineers; product installation experts and trainers; to logistical specialists that are building job-site tool boxes and manufacturing specialists adding electrical components to our elevator products.”
Currently the KONE Torreon, Mexico facility is responsible for the construction of KONE’s base elevator cars and doors, the foundation of the company’s product line. KONE AllenPlace will start a new center of excellence for KONE Americas, picking up from the KONE Torreon’s base car and doors and making the elevator products’ electrification and installation processes come to life, Patrick explains.
Recently, KONE was named to Forbes Magazine’s list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies, featured on the list for the fifth year in a row. The organization also has several industry accolades including Elevator World’s Project of the Year award.
It’s no surprise that this top-quality company has found a home in Allen.
“Allen and the Dallas community has been a great place for KONE Americas to grow our business,” Patrick says. “We are able to attract a talented pool of candidates from the area and attribute some of this to the new housing and infrastructure developments, as well as a great metro area full of family-friendly activities.”
Construction began this month on Tech Center One, the first phase of an office/warehouse complex at Greenville Avenue and Bethany Drive in Allen. Completion of the 38,000-square-foot office/warehouse hybrid building is expected in August. Two additional building phases are planned, for a total of 94,000 square feet.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the project is set for Thursday, Feb. 25. at 2 p.m.
“We know there’s a demand for this type of product,” says Bruce Heller, President of the Allen-based development firm JaRyCo. “As we were in the leasing process for another office project in Allen, we heard from a number of businesses that were looking for an option that offered both office or showroom and warehouse space together. There just wasn’t anything like that in the city, and that’s when we saw the need.”
Office/warehouse combinations are available in other areas, Heller explains, including Plano and Richardson. However, the majority of these complexes were built 10 to 15 years ago and lack modern appeal, as well as today’s efficiencies and amenities.
“We’ve come up with a space that has an attractive look in front for the office user, along with that storage space they need in the back,” Heller explains. “We’re talking about simple overhead doors that come to the parking level so companies can drive vehicles in for easy loading and unloading, or parking service trucks at night.”
In addition to relocations, they’re targeting companies looking to consolidate their office and warehouse facilities. While the cost per square foot of the new facility may be higher, companies may still be able to save money by consolidating shared areas and equipment or existing in a smaller, better-designed footprint.
“There is strong demand from companies that are currently located in other cities, but their executives live in Allen,” says Allen EDC Executive Director Dan Bowman. “They’d prefer a shorter commute and access to restaurants just down the road at Watters Creek.”
This will be the 10th project in Allen for JaRyCo in the last 15 years. Lee & Associates DFW’s George Tanghongs and Brett Lewis are marketing the property. Heller says he expects that the Tech Center will attract a diversified group of businesses, including some that may not have previously considered the city because the option for a flex space wasn’t available.
“The city of Allen has always maintained high quality when it comes to developments, and that matches with what we do,” Heller says. “We’re long-term owners who focus on quality, and really understand the Allen market.”
ABOUT ALLEN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
In 1992, the citizens of Allen passed a citywide half-cent sales tax in support of an economic development corporation. Since its inception, the Allen Economic Development Corporation has been charged with facilitating company relocations and assisting the expansion of existing businesses, which creates jobs and additional tax revenue to the community. Since 1992, the AEDC has recruited over seventy new businesses and industries to Allen that have contributed to increasing Allen’s total ad valorem tax base from $729 million in 1992 to over $8.3 billion in 2013.
The AEDC Board of Directors, appointed by the Allen City Council, governs the corporation’s operations. These individuals represent a diverse spectrum of interests and expertise, which is invaluable to making prudent decisions with regard to the quality of Allen’s economic development.
In April, Purus Labs and Formulife, Inc. will move to Allen from Dallas. The company will occupy 45,000 square feet of leased space in Allen Station II, located off Central Expressway near The Village at Allen. Purus Labs and Formulife, Inc. design and manufacture high-quality products that maximize efforts in exercising, weight lifting, workouts, and weight loss. Brandon Smith, the companies’ founder, and CEO, has always been passionate about health and nutrition. Read more
CQ Press has ranked Allen as the 13th safest city in the nation, moving the city up from the 14th spot. Allen also earned the highest ranking of any Texas city.
ALLEN, Texas – TIG Real Estate Services, Inc., plans to build Ridgeview Business Center, a $31 million, 154,000 square-foot, six-story office building on eight acres optioned by Allen Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) along the Sam Rayburn Tollway between Stacy Road and North Watters Road.
Ridgeview Business Center will be the first office building developed in this corridor in Allen, which includes 1,300 acres of developable land stretching nearly six miles from U.S. 75 southwest to Custer Road between the Sam Rayburn Tollway south service road and Ridgeview Drive. Future land-use plans show office, entertainment and mixed-use development along the corridor.
According to Brad McJunkin, TIG’s director of Acquisitions and Development, construction will get underway once a quarter of the space has been pre-leased. He said he anticipates the space will fill quickly at rates of $27.50 plus E.
“With this site, we can be competitive in the market and value-conscious,” said McJunkin. “We believe corporate office users will find this to be an outstanding opportunity and a logical alternative to what they would find along the Dallas North Tollway Platinum Corridor.”
The AEDC has optioned the eight acres for phase one from nearby Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church, and an additional 17 acres owned by Betty Williams Trust southwest of the site for phases two and three, said AEDC Executive Director/CEO Dan Bowman. The 17-acre parcel could accommodate up to 500,000 SF of office space, he said.
“Current plans call for phase one to be a multi-tenant building but, at this point, we have the flexibility to adapt the design for a build-to-suit corporate user,” said Bowman. “This site offers tremendous highway visibility and access, and nearby services that appeal to the corporate workforce including restaurants, daycare, exercise facilities and more.”
The exterior has been designed by international architectural firm Gensler.
“The design strives to balance the transparency that our corporate clients are seeking in a modern workplace environment with a high-performance energy-efficient design, said Gensler Senior Associate Rick Ferrera. “We are combining high-performance curtain wall and insulated precast concrete panels to achieve this.”
Ferrera said the top floor has a north facing exterior balcony which will create a unique and distinctive feature of the building.
AEDC and TIG were self-represented on the transaction.
About TIG Real Estate Services, Inc.
For more information, visit: http://www.tigusa.com.
About Allen Economic Development Corporation
In 1992, the citizens of Allen passed a citywide half-cent sales tax in support of an economic development corporation. Since its inception, the Allen Economic Development Corporation has been charged with facilitating company relocations and assisting the expansion of existing businesses, which creates jobs and additional tax revenue to the community. Since 1992, the AEDC has recruited over seventy new businesses and industries to Allen that have contributed to increasing Allen’s total ad valorem tax base from $729 million in 1992 to over $8.3 billion in 2013. The AEDC Board of Directors, appointed by the Allen City Council, governs the corporation’s operations. These individuals represent a diverse spectrum of interests and expertise, which is invaluable to making prudent decisions with regard to the quality of Allen’s economic development.
The Allen City Council has approved a development agreement with TCH Altera, LLC, for the construction of The Convention Center at Watters Creek, an $85 million, full-service four-star facility. The convention hotel will contain 290 guest rooms, a 64,500 SF convention center and a 1,000-car parking garage on seven acres at Bethany Drive and North Central Expressway, adjacent to Allen’s premier Watters Creek mixed-use center.
Projected to open in January 2017, the center will offer the largest convention and exhibition space among the north Dallas suburbs and compares to DFW’s most significant centers, including the Gaylord, Hilton Anatole and the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, according to a study by HVS.
“This convention center is truly a unique asset for north Texas,” said Allen Mayor Stephen Terrell. “The sheer size of the convention space opens the door for significant conferences and propels Allen to a whole new level as a destination city for business and tourism.”
Terrell said the HVS study estimates venue revenue from the convention center will reach $3.6 million annually by its fourth full year of operation.
The multi-entity agreement provides for the City, Allen Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) and Allen Community Development Corporation (ACDC) to jointly contribute $12.3 million toward the capital investment in the project and to provide additional operational support over time. The AEDC also will contribute the land, which it has owned since the 1990s. TCH Altera has arranged construction financing and anticipates breaking ground by the end of this summer.
According to Allen officials, the convention center is being developed largely in response to Allen’s explosive corporate office and retail growth that continues to drive demand for larger business and recreational events. This strong interest from corporate relocations also drove the recent announcement of Peloton Commercial Real Estate’s Watters Creek Office Park, which will be built adjacent to the convention center with up to 860,000 SF of new office space.
“With the relocation of corporate tenants like KONE Elevators, Allen is quickly becoming a Class-A office market,” said AEDC Executive Director Dan Bowman. “This convention center and the adjacent Watters Creek mixed-use destination provide amenities that are critical for these corporate tenants.”
According to Bowman, developer TCH Altera brings extensive experience with a wide range of notable hotels, including the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas, Nev., The Knickerbocker in Manhattan’s Time Square, and the recent redevelopment of The Fairmont Acapulco Princess, Acapulco, Mexico.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the commitment to this project by Allen officials,” said TCH Altera Principal Tom Hendrick. “We view this as a long-term partnership with the city that will build on the area’s momentum for attracting visitors and tourism.”
“This is a real game-changer,” said Karen Cromwell, Director of the Allen Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The new convention hotel will compete on a regional level with major venues such as the Frisco Embassy Suites that offer large combined meeting and exhibit space.”
5G Studio Collaborative has been selected for architectural design. Plano-based Aimbridge Hospitality has been chosen to manage the hotel and has a wealth of experience working with cities for management of convention center properties. Aimbridge currently manages over 270 hotels in 38 states and the Caribbean and is the second largest independent hotel management firm in the country with an impressive team of veteran hoteliers.
ABOUT TCH ALTERA LLC
TCH Altera, LLC, is a privately held development joint venture consortium specializing in luxury hospitality projects. The team has developed more than 100 projects valued at more than $3 billion over the past 30 years. The principals bring extensive experience in hotel feasibility analysis, financing and development, as well as Public Private Partnerships with municipalities. http://tchaltera.com
ABOUT AIMBRIDGE HOSPITALITY
Aimbridge Hospitality is the nation’s second largest independent hotel investment and management firm with a proven track record for delivering superior returns for its strategic partners in a variety of markets and economic cycles. Aimbridge provides management, asset management, development, renovation and consulting services. Based in Dallas, Texas and with development offices in Chicago, Dallas and Puerto Rico, Aimbridge currently owns and/or manages over 270 upscale, independent and branded hotels with over 36,000 rooms across the United States and the Caribbean, including such affiliations as Marriott, Hilton, Embassy Suites, Doubletree, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn & Suites, Aloft, Hyatt, Wyndham, Choice Hotels and the Phoenix Inn Suites chain of hotels.www.aimbridgehospitality.com
ABOUT ALLEN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
The Allen Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) is funded through a citywide half-cent sales tax and charged with facilitating company relocations and assisting the expansion of existing businesses, which creates jobs and generates additional tax revenue to the community. Today, Allen’s total ad valorem tax base exceeds $8.5 billion. Recently, the AEDC was instrumental in recruiting KONE Elevators, MonkeySports and CVE Technology to locate offices in Allen.
ABOUT ALLEN CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU
The Allen Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) is tasked with marketing Allen as a destination for conventions, events and tourism. ACVB has been instrumental in bringing meetings and events to Allen. Due in part to their efforts, spending on travel in Allen has increased from $40 million in 2002 to $151 million in 2013. The ACVB is funded through Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue, from which the City has pledged $10 million over a 12-year period toward the management operations of The Convention Center at Watters Creek. http://www.visitAllenTexas.com
ABOUT ALLEN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
The Allen Community Development Corporation (ACDC) is funded through a citywide half-cent sales tax and is charged with overseeing the funding for land, buildings, equipment and improvements which are suitable for professional and amateur athletics, entertainment and tourism, parks and public spaces, transportation and other projects which promote new or expanded business enterprises.