On CNBC’s “The Deed: Chicago,” Sean Conlon helps real estate investors avoid disaster and find success, all in his trademark Irish/Chicago brogue. North Texas will soon know his accent well, because he’s set his sights squarely on Dallas-Fort Worth.
“For much of my life, I’ve lived in a world that admired Texas from afar,” Conlon told Dallas Innovates. “It always seemed to do everything bigger and better. I believe Texas and the DFW area, in particular, has to be one of the most business-friendly places on the planet.”
So Conlon’s being friendly right back—with two DFW-area investments in the last month.
The property financier and his partners at Conlon & Co., former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and his son Patrick Daley, bought 719 undeveloped lots in the White Bluff Resort on Lake Whitney last month. Today they announced their second major local deal: the acquisition of 690,000 SF of “soon-to-be constructed” industrial and logistics space in the Midlothian Business Park, Conlon said.
Conlon calls his firm “a buccaneering real estate merchant bank,” according to the Financial Times. So what’s attracting their Chicago money to North Texas? Just ask the mayor.
“What I learned from my father, and my 39 years in government,” Mayor Daley told Dallas Innovates, “was that the key to a great city was a business-friendly climate, an abundance of community-supported cultural institutions, and a willingness to invest in the educational infrastructure from early childhood to post graduate. The DFW area continues to grow and expand in all of these areas, and we are excited to participate in this.”
Conlon says his attraction to DFW is “driven by several factors, including population size and density, educated workforce, and industry diversity. I strongly believe the Texas economy looks positive post-pandemic. The pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of supply chain and logistics real estate.”
Conlon sees a lot of potential for growth in DFW.
“Given the general trend in America now, Texas and its industrial sector are ideally suited for continued growth as we look to a post COVID-19 economy,” he said. “With the Daley family—who knows firsthand the importance of urban planning and redevelopment—we’re looking forward to continuing our presence in Texas.”
Conlon & Co. sees two booming sectors as key to the DFW market: IT and logistics. His firm believes the DFW market is “ideally suited to these sectors that provide critical supply chain and essential digital infrastructure to the U.S. economy. The Midlothian Business Park project embraces the trending investment pillars.”
Conlon & Co. partner Patrick Daley is big on DFW, too.
“My father and I share a passion for urban planning,” Daley said. “Dallas-Fort Worth has undergone a remarkable evolution over the past two decades, given the recent shift in migration and now experiencing one of the strongest economic and population growths in the country. [Texas] is one of the most economically resilient states and only shows opportunities for Conlon & Co.”
The Midlothian Business Park will bring more than 200 jobs to the community, Conlon & Co. said. Conlon’s team worked in tandem with the Midlothian Economic Development Corp. on the urban development project.
The anchor tenant at the Midlothian Business Park will be Sunrider International, a California-based global health and wellness brand. Sunrider is moving its manufacturing and R&D operations from Torrance, CA, to the Midlothian park, the company announced. Expected to complete in mid-2022, the company broke ground in October on what will eventually be a nearly one-million-square-foot facility. Founded in 1982, Sunrider operates in dozens of countries, with six manufacturing facilities worldwide and approximately 500 retail stores. Its move to Midlothian is expected to begin in 2021.
Separately, Conlon & Co. has made a significant strategic investment in Renovo Financial, the fastest growing specialty lender in Chicago and now Dallas. Renovo’s recent Dallas expansion provides Texas’s entrepreneurial real estate investors a committed partner, Conlon & Co. said—providing the service, support, capital, and partnerships necessary, while executing on its business plan to grow its annual originations to $1 billion.
“Renovo Financial is the fastest-growing specialty lender in the market, targeting $200-300 million in rehab loan organizations,” Conlon said. “They’re expanding their DFW presence with the goal of financing $200 million in rehab projects in 2021. Their business overall has fully recovered from the initial COVID-19 shutdown, and we’re looking forward to their continued success in the DFW market.”
In addition to all these moves, Conlon & Co. has entered into a strategic partnership with Kynikos, the hedge fund led by celebrated Wall Street short-seller Jim Chanos.
Conlon said recently that his TV stint may be over, with no new season planned. If so he seems to have a lot on his plate—and a lot of it is right here in North Texas.
“Let’s just say, I’m hoping to see my dance card as full as that of a Texas debutante in the prime social season,” Conlon said.
Updated on Nov. 13, 3:14 p.m., to clarify construction details at the time of the acquisition.
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