A Time to Be Bold: Lucy Billingsley

Real estate legend Trammell Crow had a profound impact on North Texas. His daughter, Lucy Billingsley, is well on her way to doing the same.

Cypress Waters' developer Lucy Billingsley

This package was originally published in Dallas-Fort Worth Real Estate Review.

Earlier this year, Crow Holdings chairman Harlan Crow held a party to mark what would have been the 100th birthday of his father, real estate legend Trammell Crow, who died in 2009 at the age of 94. One of the highlights of the evening was an uproarious video that began with a shot of Harlan, dressed in a hooded robe, wandering the darkened halls of Old Parkland (a signature Crow Holdings development north of Uptown).

Harlan summoned “the great Crow in the sky” for real estate advice, and “Trammell” appeared in a green-lit crystal ball. The two began bantering and, in a scene that drew loud laughs from the crowd, Trammell tells his son: “Your biggest mistake is you don’t listen to Lucy!”

Lucy Crow Billingsley, Trammell’s only daughter (she and Harlan have four brothers) is the driving force behind Dallas-based Billingsley Co., a real estate development firm she runs with her husband, Henry. She says it wasn’t until her children were grown and out of the house that she realized just how much real estate meant to her. “I thought about what I wanted to do with that free time, and what I really wanted to do was work,” she says. Billingsley Co. has had tremendous success in all product types, with developments such as Austin Ranch, International Business Park, and One Arts Plaza. Along the way, it has been a pioneer in creating places that focus on end-user perspectives. Billingsley’s goal, she says, is to give people things they don’t even realize they’re lacking, in both residential and commercial developments. She likens it to a quote from hockey great Wayne Gretzky: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

At Cypress Waters, this means putting an emphasis on nature, art, and incorporating “third place” elements. (In urban planning, third place refers to the social aspects of communities, separate from home and work.) These spaces will evolve organically, says Billingsley’s daughter, Lucy Burns, who oversees office and build-to-suit operations for the company.

“The objective is to not have a manufactured feel or create a Disneyland for grown-ups, but for it to be serendipitous,” she says. “We want the trail system and the parks to be authentic areas that people really do use and that don’t feel forced.”

Billingsley says it all comes down to creating great places. “It’s our responsibility to do this in a big way,” she says. “I feel like I’m at the stage in my life now when it’s important to make some bold gestures and bold moves. Fortunately, I have enough tenure and understanding where I think I can do bold that’s not unnecessary or risky. I hope and believe that we’re going to be able to make these environments really remarkable.”

A Family Tradition: Real estate is a way of life for the crow-Billingsley clan:

  • Lucy Crow Billingsley is a partner with her husband Henry in Billingsley Co., which they founded in 1978. The company has significant holdings across all real estate sectors.
  • Son Trammell Hancock specializes in retail brokerage as a vice president at Venture Commercial. His wife, Cheryl, is an associate at Venture.
  • Daughter Lucy Billingsley Burns is a partner at Billingsley Co., where she oversees office projects and build-to-suits. Her husband, Tom, is a vice president at Deutsche Bank, where he focuses on originating CMSB loans.
  • Son George Billingsley is a partner at Billingsley Co., where he oversees the industrial portfolio. His wife, Lindsay, is a development director at Alliance Residential Co., specializing in multifamily and site selection work.
  • Daughter Sumner Billingsley is joining the family business later this year to focus on the retail and multifamily portfolios, after working for CBRE in New York.


This story originally appeared in the Dallas-Fort Worth Real Estate Review.

Read all stories from the Cypress Waters Anatomy of a Deal package:

Creating a Lakeside Legacy
7-Eleven’s New Heaven
Nation Building
Workplace of the Future
A New Multifamily Paradigm
The 25-Year Vision
Educating for the Future
Embracing the Great Outdoors
A Time to Be Bold: Lucy Billingsley

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