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15 posts from May 2013


Kelly Hart & Hallman named 2012 Spirit of Enterprise honoree by FW Chamber

Kelly Hart & Hallman, a nationally prominent Fort Worth-based law firm, will receive the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 Chairman’s Spirit of Enterprise Award.

It is the first time a law firm has been honored since the award began in 1975. It is among the chamber's most prestigious awards.

“Kelly Hart & Hallman has stood with Fort Worth and Tarrant County through thick and thin, always bringing their considerable expertise to the public or private sector when legal help has been needed and serving as a model of civic involvement,” said Chamber President and CEO Bill Thornton, in a statement.

The law firm was founded in 1979 and has grown to 257 employees. It also has an Austin office. The firm represents many leading Fort Worth families and Fortune 500 companies.

Its lawyers are encouraged to devote 50 hours annually to pro bono work and to participate in charitable and civic organizations, the chamber said. Some of those groups have included CASA of Tarrant County, Downtown Fort Worth Inc., Habitat for Humanity, Leadership Fort Worth, Lena Pope Home, Safe City Commission, Tarrant County Women’s Center and the Van Cliburn Foundation.

Managing partner Dee Kelly Jr. said the firm is “excited, surprised and grateful” for the award.

“It means that we’re doing a few things right,” he said in a news release.

Added founding partner Dee Kelly, “We’ve been blessed to have wonderful clients and people from the very beginning.”

The firm will be honored at the chamber’s annual meeting Friday, June 14.

_ Sandra Baker


Fewer Fort Worth-Arlington mortgage holders late on their loan payments

The number of Fort Worth-Arlington homeowners at least 90 days late on their mortgage payments fell for the 14th consecutive month is March, according to CoreLogic.

The percentage of loans in the area 90 days delinquent fell to 4.35 percent from 4.54 percent in February, CoreLogic said. It is the lowest percentage since January 2012 when the delinquency rate was 5.47 percent.

In Texas, the delinquency rate was 3.74 percent, compared to 4.46 percent in March 2012.

Nationwide, the delinquency rate was 6.01 percent, down from 7 percent a year earlier. 

The rate looks at mortgages in Tarrant, Wise, Parker and Johnson counties. 

In a separate report, online research website Zillow said 20.4 percent of homeowners with mortgages in Dallas-Fort Worth were in negative equity in the first quarter, or those who owed more on their mortgage than the home is worth.

But another 26.3 percent, although not underwater, has less than 20 percent equity in their homes, said the Zillow Negative Equity Report.

_ Sandra Baker

Arlington real estate firm partners to buy Grand Prairie project out of foreclosure

Arlington-based SkyWalker Property Partners and an affiliate of Venture Commercial real estate firm have bought the remaining 70 lots on 8.3 acres of the Townhomes of Camp Wisdom in Grand Prairie.

The land, at the northeast quadrant of Camp Wisdom Road and Magna Carta Boulevard, was previously foreclosed and sold by Washington Federal Bank.

The group said it will re-plat 1.6 acres, or 22 residential lots, for two commercial pad sites for lease to national restaurants chains. Those negotiations are underway, the group said.

SkyWalker will said it will spend $6 million from its Hangover Opportunity Fund to build-out the remaining 48 lots with townhomes. Construction on those could begin in 120 days, the firm said.

“The dirt was bought at a substantial discount to replacement value,” says Clint Holland, Skywalker’s acquisitions director. "We're creating significant value in the commercial pad sites. That's really what made this deal work."

Holland said they are deciding whether to sell or lease the new townhomes.

The original developer began work on the 113-lot gated development in 2008 and completed 43 townhomes, a community pool with cabana and infrastructure before facing foreclosure.

SkyWalker did a similar deal in 2010 when it acquired 65 unfinished condos in the Arthouse section in So7 in Fort Worth. Skywalker said they are under contract to sell the last 29 units in June.

Jim Whitten with CBRE represented Washington Federal.

_ Sandra Baker


Insured damages from May 15 tornadoes estimated at $250 million

The May 15 storms in North Texas that included tornadoes and hail produced an estimated $250 million in insured losses, according to an insurance industry group.

Mark Hanna, spokesman at the Insurance Council of Texas in Austin, said insurers are seeing claims from at least six counties, from Palo Pinto in the west to Ellis in the east. He said that while the tornadoes that hit Granbury and Cleburne received most of the news coverage, “there was as much hail damage as tornado damage,” judging by insurance claims.

Hanna said it’s been difficult to come up with an estimate of damage because “it was so widespread.”

Six deaths and dozens of injuries were reported in Granbury, where a tornado cut a swath about 100 yards wide and a mile long, and 80 mph winds were reported in Cleburne. Hanna said there were also reports of grapefruit-size hail in Mineral Wells and wind damage in downtown Ennis in a day that ultimately counted 16 separate tornadoes.

His group’s estimate only counts damage to insured properties. There are always additional uninsured and underinsured losses, he said.

-- Jim Fuquay


Humana to hire hundreds at new Irving mail-order pharmacy

Health insurer Humana said today it will employ more than 620 people within three years at a new mail-order pharmacy it expects to open in Irving by August. Humana said its RightSource pharmacy will include a call center and support operations. It will be the company's third U.S. mail-order pharmacy location to serve about 1.5 million people who filled nearly 20 million prescriptions last year. Along with existing jobs at subsidiaries Concentra and LifeSynch, the new jobs will give Humana more than 2,500 employees in North Texas, it said.

"Humana will build out all three floors of the building, located at 2001 W. John Carpenter Fwy., to accommodate its office and work spaces, open meeting spaces, conference rooms, training and huddle rooms, storage areas and communications functions," the company said. "Positions to be hired will include pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, customer service representatives, and data entry clerks." To apply or learn more, go to careers.humana.com.

-- Jim Fuquay


Dr. Stephen Brotherton elected president of Texas Medical Association

Fort Worth orthopedic surgeon Stephen Brotherton is the new president of the Texas Medical Association, the group announced this weekend. TMA is holding its annual meeting in San Antonio. Brotherton, in a prepared release, said he has three priorities for his term: supporting primary care, ensuring patient safety and boosting TMA's county medical organizations, such as the Tarrant County Medical Society. "Primary care is the essence of medicine, and it is ailing in Texas," he said.

Brotherton is a past-president of the Tarrant County Medical Society, a leader of the TMA's House of Delegates, which sets association policies and legislative action, and a longtime participant in American Medical Association activities. He teaches at Texas Christian University, his alma mater, the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Affiliated Hospitals Orthopedic Residency Program. TMA says it is the largest state medical society in the nation, with more than 47,000 physician and medical student members. It is based in Austin.

-- Jim Fuquay


Alliance leases large warehouse to Saddle Creek Logistics Services

Saddle Creek Logistics Services has leased a large warehouse at Alliance from Hillwood Properties. 

Saddle Creek, a privately-held third-party logistics company based in Lakeland, Fla., has leased 287,000 square feet at 743 Henrietta Creek Road in Roanoke.

The lease brings first quarter leasing activities at Alliance in far north Fort Worth to 1 million square feet, Hillwood said.

“First quarter activity continues to follow 2012’s pace and is a good sign that the industrial market is continuing its rebound,” said Mike Berry, Hillwood Properties president, in a statement. “We believe AllianceTexas is well-positioned to take advantage of these improved market conditions.”

Saddle Creek has leased a portion of a 1-million-square-foot warehouse that is leased by Tom Thumb, said Reid Goetz, marketing manager with Hillwood.

The space has been leased by a number of other tenants, but was available and met Saddle Creek's needs, he said. Saddle Creek will use the space for several of its clients, he said.

Saddle Creek also operates an 860,000-square-foot warehouse at 4600 Railhead Road in Fort Worth. The company’s website said it also operates two Grand Prairie facilities totaling 900,000 square feet.

Saddle Creek took occupancy of the Alliance warehouse in April.

Goetz represented Hillwood Properties in-house. Gary Lindsey with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, and Robert Pericht, senior vice president, warehouse operations, represented Saddle Creek Logistics Services. 

“Saddle Creek has experienced strong growth in quite a few markets, and the Dallas-Fort Worth market is certainly one of those,” said Pericht, in a statement. “This new AllianceTexas building puts us in a great spot to continue that growth.”

_ Sandra Baker


Proton therapy facility to break ground in Irving on Wednesday

North Texas' first facility offering proton radiation therapy, a $105 million project that will be located in Irving, will break ground Wednesday morning. The Texas Center for Proton Therapy, first announced in June 2011, will be built by Dallas-based Baylor Health Care System and Texas Oncology, the state's largest cancer physicians group. Gary Barlow, the facility's director, said the 63,000-square-foot project will include three treatment rooms, associated imaging services and labs. He said it is expected to treat its first patients by early 2016. There are currently 11 proton treatment facilities in the United States, he said. The only current Texas facility is at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Dr. Scott Cheek, a radiation oncologist at Texas Oncology-Baylor Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas, said a proton beam delivers a more precise dose of radiation than conventional x-ray therapy. It is especially helpful when tumors are near the brain, eyes or spinal cord, or when a tumor is wrapped around a organ, he said. "This is additive, another arrow in our armamentarium" for fighting cancer besides conventional radiation and chemotherapy, Cheek said. The new facility's address is 1501 W. Royal Lane in Irving, which was selected for its proximity to both Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field.

-- Jim Fuquay



Atmos says it has reimbursed overcharged customers

Atmos Energy said it reversed more than 39,000 overcharges that hit debit and credit cards of customer accounts on Sunday, who were charged 10 times the actual cost of the bill.

In a statement, Atmos said "the isolated event occurred when a vendor charged a segment of customers who pay their bill by credit or debit card through a recurring automatic draft."

Atmos said it will reimburse affected customers for any fees or charges caused by the mistake. The company said it has contacted the customers who were affected "to reassure them that their bank accounts, debit cards and credit cards will be reimbursed."

The overcharges affected 27,772 customers in North Texas, 2,325 in West Texas and others in six other states. Atmos said it serves more than 3 million customers in eight states.

-- Steve Kaskovich


Fort Worth-Arlington home prices rise nearly 11 percent in March

Fort Worth-Arlington home prices rose 10.9 percent in March compared to a year ago, according the latest monthly CoreLogic Home Price Index released Tuesday.

The prices don't include the sale of distressed properties.

When distressed sales are included, home prices rose 5.8 percent compared to March 2012.

On a month-over-month basis, excluding distressed sales, local home prices increased 3.2 percent in March compared to February.

Including distressed sales, month-over-month prices increased 1.7 percent, CoreLogic said.

Nationwide, excluding distressed sales, home prices increased 10.7 percent in March, and including distressed sales, home prices rose 10.5 percent. The change represents the biggest year-over-year increase since March 2006, CoreLogic said.

March was also the 13th consecutive monthly increase in home prices nationally, CoreLogic said.

"For the first time since March 2006, both the overall index and the index that excludes distressed sales are above 10 percent year-over-year," said Mark Fleming, CoreLogic's chief economist in a statement. "The pace of appreciation has been accelerating throughout 2012 and so far in 2013 leading into the home buying season."

Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned transactions.

CoreLogic said it expects home prices to also rise in April.

_ Sandra Baker



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