Building on legacy
RYAN MCCORD, president McCord Development
One of the biggest commercial real estate developments in Texas is taking shape at Generation Park in northeast Houston under the direction of Ryan McCord.
One of the biggest commercial real estate developments in Texas is taking shape at Generation Park in northeast Houston. Behind the project is Ryan McCord, who carries forward the legacy of his father, Rick McCord, who founded McCord Development in 1973.
The company has been involved in the acquisition, development and management of office, industrial, land, single-family and multifamily properties in Houston and beyond. McCord, who joined the family-owned company 15 years ago and is now president, primarily focuses on a single project spanning 4,000 acres along Beltway 8 in the Lake Houston area. Anchored by TechnipFMC’s corporate campus, Generation Park broke ground in 2014 and recently sold a large parcel to Ikea. It’s close to Summerwood, a master-planned community originally developed by McCord in 1995.
Q: Can you name some notable projects where you’ve left your stamp on the city?
A: One of my personal favorites is one we did in downtown Houston called One City Centre. It’s a 600,000-square-foot office building on Main Street that we acquired when it was in a state of underperformance. We completely renovated the building, including removing asbestos from the building, and re-tenanted the building. We actually officed there for 20 years. It was just a great story of seeing a lot of opportunity and vision in something that others didn’t. It was right under everyone’s nose. Others neglected to see the opportunity or have the vision to see it become a great and valued asset for the city of Houston.
Q: Can you tell me about your father’s impact on your career?
A: We worked together for 12 years before he passed away. He was a very tenacious businessman. He loved people, and he viewed real estate at all levels. Whether the capital partners and financiers or the companies occupying the buildings or the janitorial company that was changing light bulbs, he viewed it as a service business. That was something he told me over the years. Real estate is about taking care of people. And so, in stark contrast with some of his hard-driving efforts that he put into getting the best out of his team and the contractors and consultants working for him, he used to tell me, “There are six levels of ‘no,’ and the first five don’t count.” He taught us not just to handle rejection but to seek it out and to want to receive it personally. Not over the phone. Not via email. But to be told no personally, and with a smile on your face.
Q: How did that benefit him in his dealings?
A: A lot of times when you’re pursuing an investment that other people have not looked at or that is outside the mainstream — whether it is a greatly underperforming asset like an office building in downtown Houston or what we’re doing in Generation Park, which is something that other folks have basically looked past — you tell people, “This is what we’re going to do.” The general response is: “You can’t do that. This is not going to work.” You have to basically ignore them and prove them wrong.
Q: What do people perceive as the biggest challenge for you?
A: The biggest challenge is simply that people are unaware of the area in which Generation Park is located. It’s beautiful. It’s convenient. Because it’s new in the commercial real estate world, most commercial real estate stakeholders have not been here.
“Sometimes building something that is architecturally attractive and significant takes time and energ y and sometimes costs more.” Developer Ryan McCord
Q: When they do take a tour, what surprises them?
A: They’re like, wow, this is great. This is a brand new, pristine environment. I didn’t realize how close it was to wherever they’re coming from, primarily the downtown or Galleria area, which is ground zero for commercial real estate stakeholders in Houston.
Q: What best practices are you using that everyone wants in today’s environment?
A: Real estate is designed for the benefit of the building occupant. Whether it’s a warehouse, an apartment, a restaurant, a hotel room, a store, it’s about people. It’s about human beings. We try to stay very focused on what the experience is for each one of these people going into these spaces. Where are they going to park? What are they going to see? Is it convenient? Is it beautiful? Is it nice to look at? If it’s a commercial building, when that tenant’s investors come in, what will their perceptions be? When that tenant’s customers come in, what will their perceptions be? The second thing is we want to make sure that our interest as the developer, as the owner, as the operator of Generation Park and many of the buildings here, that our financial interests are generally lined up with the people coming into our spaces.
Q: Can you give me an example of that?
A. Sometimes building something that is architecturally attractive and significant takes time and energy and sometimes costs more. If something costs more, it may mean that rent is higher than something that is unattractive. People appreciate the beauty. There’s alignment in the experience. There’s mutual agreement that any premium associated with it is worth it.
Q: to What other are properties the costs in relative that region? A: Because we’re pioneering this region, there really are not direct cost comparables.
Q: How would you compare with downtown or the Energy Corridor?
A: I’d say we’re competitive with downtown or the Energy Corridor.
Q: Are people willing to pay that?
A: They are.
Q: Did the collapse in oil prices have an impact on your development?
A: The short answer is no. McCord Development has been in business for 45 years. We’ve been through many cycles in the Houston market. The most re-
McCord from page B16 cent was exceptionally mild by historical standards. We anticipate more ups and downs in Houston’s future during our build-out. We’re very well positioned to absorb that and handle it.
Q: What kind of residential options do people have in Generation Park?
In our general area, there are probably seven or eight master-planned communities under development right now with a wide range of housing opportunities. In Generation Park, we’re under construction on our first mixed-use multifamily apartment community with 251 units, a retail podium with 17,000 square feet of retail space.
Q: Do you plan any singlefamily or other types or residential development?
We do plan to build several thousand multifamily rental apartment homes at varying price points.
Q: What’s on the horizon for hospitality?
Our first hotel, a Courtyard Marriott, should be completed in the next 12 months. In our first phase, we anticipate two additional hotels, an extended stay and a full-service hotel. In subsequent phases of Generation Park, we anticipate having fullon conference and exhibit hall facilities here that serve the greater Houston region.
Q: Will industrial be a big component of Generation Park?
It will be a balanced component of Generation Park, just like it’s a balanced component of the Houston economy. Generation Park is of a scale that it will statistically resemble the makeup of Houston as a whole.
Q: How much office space will there be?
12 million square feet. 28 million feet of industrial, 6 million of retail and hospitality, and 12,000 apartments.
Q: Will McCord Development see it through to the end, or possibly sell it along the way?
It’s hard to answer, sitting here today. We as a company and as a team have started to recognize our moral obligation to develop the land in a manner that really raises the bar for Houston, and because of that, it’s not just about trying to get the top dollar from the sale. Again, it’s getting back to this idea of alignment and people and trying to discern and understand what’s really best for Houston and the future of this land.
Q: How did you assemble that huge tract of land?
A: It took over 20 years to put it together. The greatest challenge is really just coming to terms of the overall scale of the development and making sure that our vision is appropriately large. You have to have a big vision for a development of this size. We have to continue to challenge ourselves to think bigger. To think about anything and everything that may be possible that is missing in Houston, Texas, that belongs here, and what we can do to bring it to this marketplace.
Ryan McCord, president of McCord Development, is leading the development of Generation Park, a 4,000-acre master-planned commercial development in northeast Houston.
McCord Development created the 1,500-acre Summerwood community in the Lake Houston area in 1995. Newland Communities purchased it in 2000.
McCord led the redevelopment of downtown’s One City Centre, 1021 Main, 20 years ago. The 30-story building, which once housed First City Bank, went from being nearly vacant in 1999 to almost fully leased two years later. It has since been sold.
Source: McCord Development Inc.
1. 250 Assay St. office-retail building in Redemption Square. 2. Future office building in Redemption Square 3. Apartments under construction at 255 Assay4. TechnipFMC campus 5. Prevailing Winds art installation at 250 Assay garage 6. Lone Star College-Process Technology Center.