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Dallas’ Hot Market: The Q&A with Arch-Con’s Robert Martin

Robert Martin

Robert Martin

For nearly two decades, Arch-Con Construction, a Texas-based general contractor specializing in commercial design and construction services for real estate developers, building owners, architects, brokers and tenants has had a major presence in Houston. The company currently has some 100,000 square feet of office buildings, eight hotels, more than 2 million square feet of industrial buildings, 750,000 square feet of retail/shopping centers and nine corporate interiors under construction. Now the company has set its sights on another market:  Dallas. Arch-Con has broken ground on a 468,000 square foot cross-dock distribution center on a 36-acre site in Park 20 Distribution Center in Lancaster, Texas, for developer Huntington Industrial Partners. The architect of the tilt-wall, cross-dock distribution center is Meinhardt & Associates Architects. Arch-Con’s Vice President Robert Martin is leading the Office and Industrial Divisions for Arch-Con’s Dallas office and oversees business development, estimating, project management and construction. Martin has more than 20 years of construction management experience — all in North Texas — and has completed more than $300 million in work. Realty News Report recently sat down with Robert to talk about Arch-Con’s Dallas plans, its expansion, and the real estate market in Big D.

Realty News Report:  Houston-based Arch-Con Construction is expanding to Dallas. Why?

Robert Martin:  Since Arch-Con was founded in 2000, there has been a vision to expand outside Houston. With a solid foundation and infrastructure in Houston, there was no better time to expand than now and no better location than Dallas. It is a homecoming of sorts for our founder, Michael Scheurich, who started his construction career in the early 1990s with The Ballpark at Arlington and The Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake. I am proud to be a part of Arch-Con’s strategic growth into the Dallas market.

Realty News Report:  Is the real estate development sector stronger in Big D compared with Houston?

Robert Martin:  I wouldn’t say stronger, I would say strongly similar. Real estate developers in Dallas and Houston are savvy, have similar mindsets and many common core relationships. More often than not, they already serve both the Dallas and Houston markets or have offices in both.

Realty News Report:  How is the economy in Dallas? What is driving industrial development? Is Dallas having as many economic challenges as Houston?

Robert Martin:  The economy in Dallas is robust. Intense job growth is occurring due to numerous Fortune 500 companies expanding in the area including State Farm, Liberty Mutual and the Dallas Cowboys.  This job growth is spurring development in support services such as retail, multifamily, industrial and office. In addition, Dallas is a hub for product distribution and large warehouses are needed to temporarily house items to then be shipped across the country.  Areas like south Dallas, DFW and Alliance are seeing substantial growth. The downturn in oil/gas is affecting Dallas somewhat, but not as significantly as Houston and San Antonio.

Realty News Report:  What is the industrial sector like in Big D?  Strong?

Robert Martin:  The industrial market is very strong and is prime for significant expansion for the next 12 to 18 months.  Speculative industrial warehouse development is strong where many projects become leased prior to completion.

Realty News Report:  Is development/building different in Dallas than Houston since Houston doesn’t have zoning.

Robert Martin:  The market is different in that you see massive industrial warehouses in Dallas to serve distribution for I-35 and I-20; whereas in Houston warehouses serve the ship channel to Dallas. Houston has no zoning where Dallas does.  Houston expansion is currently focused on the port where Dallas is focused on rail and major highway distribution lines.

Realty News Report:  Arch-Con is breaking ground on Park 20 Distribution Center in Lancaster. Tell us a little about this development.

Robert Martin:  This project is a great milestone for our team as it kick starts our presence in North Texas and cultivates our grateful relationships with Huntington Industrial Partners and Meinhardt & Associates.  It is a speculative development that will serve a growing need for product distribution along major corridors.

Realty News Report:  Do you have other developments on the boards for the Dallas area?

Robert Martin:  Our retail division is bubbling up with a number of potential projects and we are in negotiations with a half dozen other projects. Right now, we are laser focused on building relationships and letting people understand our unique business model.  We anticipate grocery anchored retail projects to be developed to serve the growing area.

Realty News Report:  What is design-build?

Robert Martin:  Design-build is Arch-Con’s hallmark. We can deliver a project under a single source contract format where the customer can receive singular responsibility. We will manage the entire design and construction process during the development of the project and allow for a fast-track approach in which the construction of a facility can begin before the design is complete. That said, design-build is not our only delivery method. We are a full service contractor and can easily adapt to whatever phase of development the customer is in.  We approach every single project with a design-build mentality whereby the design is as important as the construction.

Realty News Report:  Any plans to expand to other cities in Texas like Austin or San Antonio?

Robert Martin:  Arch-Con has a vision to expand to other markets in Texas as well as outside of Texas.  We’ll keep you posted on future plans.

Realty News Report is an award-winning Texas-based publication edited by Ralph Bivins.

April 10, 2016

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