PaperCity Magazine

December 2019- Houston

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48 To keep it cohesive, we'd all have to come together and agree. It was like herding cats. But we kept talking until we all said yes to everything in the building, all 9,000 items. I've been involved on everything to the level that my designers are pulling their hair out because they know that Bill has a strong opinion on every little lamp. Nothing gets past me — the outdoor heater, the firepit, you name it, I've been involved in discussing it, ultimately selecting it. I think that's made the hotel — if I dare say so myself — a better place. Shag Room. I'm in love with so many spaces in the building. On the entertainment deck, there's the Secret Garden and the Moroccan Garden. In the Commons Club, you can not only rent the whole club, but you can rent out the Shag Room, a really cool round room with a booth and ottomans that closes off with curtains for privacy. In The Kitchen, our restaurant, there's a private area inside — a sexy area of five round booths you can close off for 25 to 35 people. Adjacent to the pool, we have windows that open like an accordion on beautiful days. There are five different areas in the hotel where I want my Christmas party for Dunhill to be — that's my dilemma. To the moon. We wanted to put a sculpture in the front by the valet, and I kept coming up with ideas, and Virgin kept shooting them down. I said, "I'm confused, what is your vision, Virgin?" They said, "It has to be something Richard Branson likes and appreciates." So, I called his right-hand man, Jason Felts, and asked him: What would Richard like to see? He said, "That's easy — a rocket ship. Richard has spent so much time wanting to conquer space, and that would be the best symbol for the hotel." He sent me a picture of a rocket ship, and I showed it to Kenneth Crain of Studio 217 in the Design District and asked him if he thought he could build something like it. He said he could, and I said, "Done! You're hired." Hotel revolution. My passion and my focus right now is on hospitality — hotels. Dunhill still has a large portfolio of shopping centers, over 30 centers we are paying close attention to, keeping them well leased and managed, but hospitality is a new direction for us. We're not only focusing on the Design District but on bringing hotels to the district. Part of what I want to do is build more apartments for lease. Dallas doesn't do well in the condo market like other cities in the country where there's a shortage of space. In Dallas, everyone can have a house and a yard — Texans like our elbow room and piece of the earth. But rentals are doing phenomenally well in Dallas. Atlas shrugged. I'm a transactional guy, a deal maker. I move onto the next deal. But, with the Design District, it's been a life changer. Whether I wanted to or not, I became the face of the District, and there's a lot of weight on my shoulders because I don't want to let them down. For me, it wasn't just like buying another shopping center; it's become a huge part of my life and responsibility. My life is so much richer and fuller now that I own the District. I go there every day, I eat in the restaurants, I walk into the showrooms, and I know almost everybody. They're important to me — I love them. I didn't know that buying a commercial piece of property was going to change my life like that, but it did. Eyes wide open. It's also made me a better person. I've met all these interesting people that are artistic and talented and in some ways very different than I was. I'm conservative, and they're liberal, generally speaking. They opened my eyes to another way of thinking — I've broadened the horizons of my personal intolerances. I would say I'm a social liberal now. I think everyone grows up insulated by the people you are related to — you end up thinking like everyone around you. Owning the Design District smashed every glass wall of my insulation: my conservative parents, conservative family, conservative SMU, conservative commercial real estate people, conservative investors. Now all of a sudden, I'm hanging out with designers, showroom people, liberals, gays, lesbians, open-minded people who have a whole different view point on the world and on America. Hutchinson on a terrace at the Virgin Hotels Dallas, overlooking the Dallas Design District. "I HAD SO MUCH FUN WITH THE VIRGIN THAT IT LED ME TO LEAPFROG OVER TO VICTORY TO ACQUIRE THE W HOTEL." — Bill Hutchinson

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