Larry Corson is a key player in real estate investment and development in North Texas. Throughout his 30-year career, he has focused largely on residential developments and was recently named co-president of Wilbow Corporation, a privately held Dallas-based residential property developer.
Corson has guided the strategic acquisition of new properties throughout DFW, particularly in suburbs like Southlake, Colleyville, Flower Mound, Roanoke, Keller, McKinney, and Prosper. For example, as a director at Cooper & Stebbins, Corson led the development of the Garden District, a successful luxury enclave located in the Southlake Town Square area.
We sat down with Corson to get his insights on development in North Texas, the housing market, and his big projects for 2015.
Candy’s Dirt: Much of your development work has been in DFW suburbs. What is the opportunity there that attracts you?
Larry Corson: We try to think like a homebuyer and focus on the suburban markets with great schools, access to quality job centers, great retail nearby including in some cases, walkable retail, and safe neighborhoods. We also pay heavy attention to data on home sales, prices, which homebuilders are selling the best homes – we strive to be out ahead of the market in these great suburban communities.
CD: What’s on your 2015 roster, in terms developments? Which ones do you think are the most significant and why?
LC: We have a great mix of urban and suburban developments coming to market this year. Later this year, we will be opening a development in Kessler Park for David Weekley Homes, which will be detached lifestyle homes on micro-lots. Pricing is expected to be in the mid-$300s to $500,000.
We will be opening this summer a new neighborhood in Flower Mound, Hunters Glen, which will feature homes from Darling Homes and American Legend Homes. In Keller, we will be completing next month the last phase of Silverleaf, which will feature homes by Our Country Homes. We will also be opening this summer the newest phase at Fairway Ranch in Roanoke with Highland Homes, Darling Homes, and David Weekley Homes featured.
CD: What’s your perspective about the housing market in North Texas?
LC: We are very bullish on North Texas. There is a dramatic undersupply of new and resale homes against a backdrop of ongoing job and population growth that is leading the country. There is simply no better place to be than Texas.
CD: Where are the big opportunities and what are the risks in the North Texas market now?
LC: The most obvious opportunities are the corridors such as Highway 114 from Las Colinas to Texas Motor Speedway, and between the Tollway and 75 from Oak Lawn to Celina. But we are also seeing “closer-in” markets that are being rediscovered. Areas like Richardson, Garland, and even Dallas itself are catching attention. The biggest risk is that the market gets carried away and pricing gets out ahead of affordability. But the DFW housing market is in equilibrium today.
CD: Why have you chosen to stay in DFW?
LC: DFW is the best housing market in the country. We have great job growth in a pro-growth state. DFW can grow geographically in virtually all directions.
CD: Why have you chosen to be in residential development as opposed to commercial or industrial?
LC: Our parent company and founder is based in Australia and they have done both commercial and residential development there virtually from their start almost 40 years ago. 27 years ago, our Chairman saw a great opportunity in DFW to provide land and lots to homebuilders, and that need today is even more acute. We love to build great neighborhoods and we go back often to see how our neighborhoods and communities grow and change as DFW changes.
CD: Tell us about your work with Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the Community Development Council (CDC) in North Texas. Why those organizations?
LC: ULI is the largest organization in the world focused on land use and development practices. At its core, ULI is focused on educating its members and the real estate development industry on smart growth principles and how good development can promote healthy living. ULI is a sounding board for our industry to share best practices. I have been involved in ULI for over 20 years and am currently serving as an Assistant Chair of the North Texas Community Development Council.
CDC is focused on local DFW issues such as smart growth and regional transportation and infrastructure issues.