Dallas Business Journal

By Candace Carlisle, Dallas Business Journal


It's 1:30 p.m. and Legacy West master developer Fehmi Karahan hasn't had time to eat lunch.


Karahan, president and CEO of The Karahan Cos. in Plano, has been too busy readying buildings along Windrose Avenue for business. Luckily, a newly completed restaurant has opened to customers.


"Is everything good?" said Karahan, asking a Shake Shack executive about the building. The sought-after burger restaurant opened its doors to the public on Wednesday.


Beyond anxiously waiting for Shake Shack's neighbors to also open their doors, Karahan gets a pleasing response from the longtime restaurant executive.


In the next month or two, Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse, True Food Kitchen, Tesla and much more, will also join Shake Shack and furniture retailer West Elm in the much-anticipated Legacy West mixed-use development in Plano.


Creating a city-like destination takes time, but for Karahan — it hasn't taken too long — with the initial part of the $400 million retail district getting wrapped up this year after a relatively short, two-year construction timeline.


By opening date, Karahan expects to have much of the $400 million retail district — which is part of the $3.2 billion, 255-acre Legacy West — leased to retailers and restaurants by this fall.


And, if Karahan plays his cards right, he could also open the village with about 60 percent of the office space above the shops leased to companies, including his development firm.


The Karahan Cos. plans to open its new world headquarters on the top floor of the mixed-use building at the northwest corner of Legacy Drive and the Dallas North Tollway this summer. And he's not alone.


The developer has brought in other corporate clientele into the Legacy West vision, including:

Toyota Connected has leased a total of 33,000 square feet of office space. The company expanded its original lease of about 20,000 square feet to accommodate projected growth.
German software maker SAP has leased about 20,000 square feet of office space in Legacy West.
New York City-based coworking concept WeWork has leased about 25,000 square feet of space, or the entire third floor, of a building near the Legacy West food hall.
Dallas-based Front Burner Restaurants LP plans to move its corporate headquarters to Legacy West next to the food hall it plans to operate.
Dallas-based Fogo de Chao Inc.(Nasdaq: FOGO), plans to lease about 24,000 square feet on the second and third floors of a building along Windrose Avenue in Legacy West. The company recently became publicly held.
Fidelity Investments has moved into its 16,000 square feet of office and retail space fronting Legacy Drive in Legacy West. The Karahan Cos. plans to relocate its headquarters above Fidelity in July.
Marriott Hotels plans to open a regional sales office at Legacy West totaling about 10,000 square feet of space.
SureTec Financial Corp. plans to set up an office totaling about 8,000 square feet of office space. The company is being acquired by Markel Corp. in a $250 million deal expected to close during the first half of 2017.
Visit Plano, the city's convention and visitor's bureau, plans to move its office to Legacy West, which will give it "a special place," to showcase the city.


The construction on the initial phase of the district is 90 percent complete, with equipment, such as the fermentation tanks, being installed in the Legacy West food hall.


Some retailers, such as Coach and Johnny Was, have begun finishing out the interior of their shops to get ready to house high-end goods for shoppers.


"It's a beautiful thing that it will finish that quickly," said Karahan, who walks along Windrose Avenue in Legacy West touring the project.


He pulls aside the Rogers-O'Brien Construction project superintendent to talk to him about the progress on the development, while the details of the conversation are muted — Karahan emphatically says, "Today, today," underlining his request.


"I work with a very good group of people that understand my expectations," he told me. "That's the key. Building something is one thing, but meeting my standards is another.


"There is a regular development and then there's the 'Fehmi standard' development and they know it," he said, laughing.


Each restaurant will have a patio or terrace for visitors to enjoy the carefully curated streetscape. Karahan paid particular attention to varying the details throughout the project to give Legacy West's the feel of a streetscape that has authentically evolved.


"There's an articulation of all the different buildings with different shapes and the terraces that come out," Karahan said. "There's nothing about this that will have a Disney-look to it. This development will have an authentic, evolved over time feeling.


"Every detail is different — from lights to building exteriors to materials," he added.


Legacy West will also have some exterior art or features — such as three glass towers — with LED lights to glow during the evenings. The project also has fountains with lights and nozzles for shows.


The next phase of Legacy West's retail district will include another luxury hotel by Sam Moon Group, 160 more apartments, more retail shops and restaurant spaces on another five acres of land.


When the Dallas Business Journal asked Karahan if the evolution of Legacy West upped the projected build-out costs from $3.2 billion— he said it's the best estimated value of the development, so far.


"It depends on how the remaining land is developed, but $3.2 billion is still a good number," said Karahan, who said he's looking forward to moving to the front door of Legacy West. "Leasing wise, we are doing very well here."


Karahan and his team plan to manage Legacy West — his dream project — as the project continues to evolve.