Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

D.R. Horton execs heading back to Arlington in late May

D.R. Horton is building a four-story, 200,000-square-foot headquarters complex on the north side of Interstate 30 in Arlington.
D.R. Horton is building a four-story, 200,000-square-foot headquarters complex on the north side of Interstate 30 in Arlington. D.R. Horton

D.R. Horton, which has moved its headquarters between Fort Worth and Arlington twice before, is getting ready to make the move again this spring.

Work is finishing up on the home builder’s new 200,000-square-foot, four-story corporate headquarters, which is rising on the north side of Interstate 30, east of Collins Street and across the highway from Globe Life Park. The complex, with a price tag exceeding $20 million, will have a courtyard and a six-story attached garage.

Answering questions before the company’s shareholders meeting on Thursday, Horton President and CEO David Auld said the company expects to make the move in late May. Horton will relocate about 500 employees from its current home in downtown Fort Worth, where it’s spread across 10 floors of the City Center tower that bears its name.

Auld said the company decided to build a headquarters to create a more intimate setting for its workforce.

“It will feel more like family,” Auld said, adding that the decision was more about culture than cost.

The company was founded in Fort Worth by Donald R. Horton in 1978 and moved to Arlington in 1993. By 2004, the fast-growing home builder had outgrown its space in a converted strip center and moved to the high-rise in downtown Fort Worth.

The company is growing once again now that it has recovered from the housing bust last decade. Donald Horton, who remains chairman, said Thursday that the company was the nation’s No. 1 home builder for the 15th year in a row last year, closing sales on 40,309 homes and outpacing its biggest rival, Lennar, by 52 percent. Its goal is to be twice as big, he said.

In its last fiscal year, ending Sept. 30, D.R. Horton reported net income of $886.3 million, up 18 percent, as revenue reached $12.2 billion, up 12 percent.

“These are good numbers. These are really good numbers,” Horton told shareholders. The company reports first-quarter results on Tuesday.

Hope the new home office has room for expansion.

Tarrant appraisals expected to climb

Tarrant Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Jeff Law is not prepared to say exactly how much yet, but he said last week that he anticipates another boost in property tax appraisals notices in 2017.

Citing a report by the MetroTex Association of Realtors in Dallas that puts North Texas housing inventory at less than two months, Law said the “low supply and high demand” will raise valuations in Tarrant County. The increase probably won’t be as high as last year’s 12 percent, he said, but appraisals are still headed up.

“I have a crystal ball, but it is cloudy,” Law said during a break in the Tarrant Appraisal District board of directors meeting on Friday, where he declined to publicly predict how big the average increase may be. But he said that there clearly “is not enough supply to meet demand.”

Law said the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M has reported that 6.5 months of inventory usually represents a market where supply and demand for homes is balanced.

Law also forecast that up to 6,000 homes will be added to the tax rolls this year.

The MetroTex report, issued this month, said that in December 8,365 homes were sold, a 3 percent rise from the year before, and that they were on the market an average of 47 days. The median sales price for homes was $232,000, a 10 percent increase from December 2015. It said there were 16,401 active home listings last month, a 1 percent drop.

“In December, we really didn’t see enough [new listings] to replace the homes we sold,” MetroTexas President James Martin said in the report. “It’s almost hard to imagine what will happen to price levels if we continue to see inventory levels fall at this rate.”

American employees get a free ride

American Airlines rewarded its 120,000 employees with free plane tickets after the carrier was named “Airline of the Year” last week.

The Fort Worth-based airline was given the award by industry publication Air Transport World. It has won the award twice before, in 1981 and 1988.

“The creation of the ‘New American’ has been a remarkable journey for employees, customers and investors,” Air Transport World editor-in-chief Karen Walker said in a release. “American Airlines has never been in better shape to deliver more to all of its stakeholders and that is because of the leadership skills of American’s executive team and the dedication and hard work of its employees around the world.”

In a letter announcing the free tickets to employees, American CEO Doug Parker said the award was recognition for the work performed by all its employees at its mainline and regional carriers.

“I hope you enjoy a special trip, and the memories you’ll create with someone close to you, as appreciation for all you’ve done to set American on its path to greatness,” Parker said.

The two tickets are upgradeable to first class, depending on available space, and employees can begin using the tickets this summer through December 2018. The tickets are for confirmed seats unlike the ticket benefits that employees currently receive, which can be used for standby.

Another discount German grocer?

Among the many highlights of the annual Tarrant County Commercial Real Estate Forecast is hearing what new retailers and restaurants might be coming to the area.

For several years, that task has fallen to Stephen Coslik, chairman of the Woodmont Co., a Fort Worth commercial real estate developer and brokerage firm.

Coslik never shies away from going out on a limb and his prognostications again last week did not disappoint.

Coslik’s big prediction this year: Lidl, another German-based grocer, will enter the market. They’ve already been searching the area and have their sights set on a north Fort Worth location first, he said.

Lidl is a competitor to Aldi, another German discount grocer. Lidl stores are 30,000 square feet, a little larger than Aldi. In May, reported the company planned to start opening stores in 2018, primarily from New Jersey to Georgia.

“Dallas-Fort Worth has more competition for grocery stores than any other area of the country,” Coslik said.

Sandra Baker

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko