ExxonMobil’s move to Houston comes as no surprise to the real estate broker who brought the oil giant to Irving

In 1989, Paul Whitman held North Texas’ biggest business secret.

For three months he remained silent while managing Exxon Corp’s plans to move its headquarters from Manhattan to Irving.

More than three decades later, Whitman said no one should be surprised that ExxonMobil is moving its headquarters to Houston.

The company announced Monday that it will close its Las Colinas headquarters and move those jobs to its campus north of Houston.

“Since they built their huge facility in Houston, that has always been a consideration,” said Whitman, international director of commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle. “I’m not surprised.

“We are already selling all the land around the headquarters, now I hope we will take care of the sale of the building.”

Last year, ExxonMobil put up for sale more than 50 acres of vacant land it owns around its 30-year-old Irving headquarters near State Highway 114 and Royal Lane. It is one of more than 130 acres that the giant oil company bought up in its first move to Texas.

At the time, the company’s silent relocation was codenamed Project Everglades.

“All I knew was that it was a Fortune 100 company,” Whitman said when the deal was finally announced in October 1989. »

Exxon’s move from Manhattan to the Dallas area has grabbed headlines as other big companies, including American Airlines and JC Penney, traded digs in the Big Apple for new homes in the northern prairies. from Texas.

For more than a decade, Exxon has repeatedly denied speculation that it would move from Las Colinas to its massive new campus in suburban Houston.

Designed by architects Gensler and Pickard Chilton, ExxonMobil’s campus in suburban Spring can house 10,000 workers in 20 buildings.

By comparison, the Las Colinas headquarters — designed by HOK Architects — is only about 365,000 square feet and was built for a few hundred executives and support staff.

The low, dark-colored buildings are surrounded by trees and are barely visible from the nearby highway. ExxonMobil says about 250 people are currently housed in the structure which overlooks a small lake.

“The ExxonMobil building will be a challenge,” said Whitman, who believes the property will “require a lot of changes” for a new company to occupy it.

All the vacant land surrounding the office building may prove to be the real draw for potential buyers.

“I suspect it will be a land game more than anything,” said Moody Younger, one of the founders of commercial real estate firm Dallas Younger Partners. “Given its age, it will likely require a major refurbishment to appeal to most users.

“The buyer will likely be a developer with a long-term vision for building the property,” he said. “To maximize the value of the property, it will require multiple uses.”

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