United Commercial Realty Celebrates 20th Anniversary

DALLAS, Texas, November 3, 2008 – United Commercial Realty marked its 20th anniversary by honoring 21 individuals who played significant roles in helping the company become one of the country’s leading retail real estate firms. Over 600 guests were in attendance as UCR recognized the honorees at a celebration gathering in San Antonio on the evening of October 30 at Club Giraud in conjunction with the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Texas Conference.

“These are the people who helped UCR become the successful company it is today by introducing us to our first national accounts, serving as our role models and mentors, and believing in us when we had no credentials during the early years of the firm,” said Mickey Ashmore, president and CEO of UCR. “Since our founding in 1988, the friends we are honoring have played significant and influential roles in pioneering our success, and we want to recognize them in a meaningful way.”

Honorees will be presented large, framed photographs, depicting interpretations of the retail environment, taken by photography students at Dallas’ Booker T. Washington High School for Performing and Visual Arts.  Photography students participating in the project were seniors Dylan Smith, Genna Ford, and Matthew Brown and juniors Katy Wood and Rachael Davis. The project provided the students an opportunity to gain experience working for a real-life client, and UCR thanked them for their contributions by donating photography supplies to the school. Directing the students was Visual Arts teacher Cassie Edmondson.

UCR honored the following individuals:

•Bob Austein, director of real estate, Limited Brands
Throughout the years, Bob Austein has been one of UCR and Jack Breard’s greatest proponents. Bob’s tenure with The Limited Group and his loyalty to UCR have allowed us to represent Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, two of the specialty apparel giants in the retail industry. Our relationship with Bob has proven that doing the right thing for your client can bring much more than success – in this case, a true friendship. Thanks, Bob.

•Frank Bliss, executive vice president, Cooper & Stebbins, L.P., Southlake Town Square
Frank Bliss is truly the man behind the scenes at Southlake Town Square. His attention to detail, process management and incredible work ethic were just what UCR needed in a role model. He definitely taught us that “the project rules.” Today, UCR Urban still works on a weekly basis with Frank and Southlake Town Square. He continues to be an amazing teacher and advocate of the UCR team.

•Mike Corey, former director of real estate, Blockbuster, Inc. and Dan Wollent vice president real estate, Mays & Company
Both former Directors of Real Estate for Blockbuster, Dan and Mike have been instrumental in UCR’s success. In 1995, as Jean Smith was wondering if retail real estate was the business for him, he was tapped by Dan to handle Blockbuster for Dallas County. Dan also suggested to Mike Corey that he use Jean for Tarrant County. Dan almost single-handedly kept Jean in the business by giving UCR one of our first national accounts. The subsequent results vaulted Jean into tenant rep prominence. With Mike’s belief in Jean and UCR, the entire Blockbuster group has sent numerous relationships our way. This is proof of the old adage: “People do business with people they like and trust.” We have definitely “trusted and liked” Dan and Mike for over 14 years, and we are very proud of our long-standing relationships.

•Marc Drasin, vice president real estate, Grocery Outlet, Inc.
In 1993, Marc Drasin noticed Mickey Ashmore sharing UCR’s DFW Retail Overview with a prospect at an ICSC in Rye, New York. Within hours of this fortuitous meeting, Petco became UCR’s first national account. UCR proudly repositioned over 50 stores in DFW and Austin for Petco. As Marc moved on from Petco, he remained a steadfast advisor and supporter who is always available when needed. Thanks so much for giving us a shot!

•David Dunning, founder and president, United Commercial Development
After questioning how to survive the real estate crash of 1988, David Dunning created UCR. David took a bet on Jean Smith by giving him a job and then recruited Mickey Ashmore as the President in 1991. He generously stepped aside in 1999 and sold his remaining stock in UCR Dallas, allowing Mickey and Jean to grow internal partners. Today, David’s development company still uses UCR, and he has continued to be a great advocate, advisor and inspiration.

•Mike Jaffe, president, The Jaffe Companies
Mike’s first major project with his own company was Huebner Oaks, and he looked to UCR to share the vision of what was to become San Antonio’s first and finest lifestyle center. He made the final decision to appoint the UCR team at the Las Vegas ICSC. At the end of the convention, Tom and Guyla Sineni informed Mike that they were going to Europe for a month. Mike’s ulcer, as a result of that conversation, is now under control with the help of strong medication. Mike still gives Guyla the credit for coining the term “lifestyle center” and we wholeheartedly agree that she did.

•Michael Epsteen, CEO of Epsteen & Associates and founder of ChainLinks, Epsteen & Associates
In 1991, seeking entry into the coveted ChainLinks Retail Advisors, Mickey Ashmore’s pilgrimage to Los Angeles, the home of ChainLinks Guru and Founder, Michael Epsteen, was pivotal in the culture and growth of UCR. Anointed, blessed and accepted into the group, Mickey and his partners found in Michael a mentor and friend for life.

•Mike Hopkins, president, Hopkins Commercial and Steve Shafer president, Shafer Property Company
Even though Mickey Ashmore did not have a clue what “$16 per square foot” alluded to, Mike and Steve hired him to be their Director of Leasing in 1985. They figured it would take someone who didn’t know the business to lease Casa Linda Plaza and The Village at Bachman Lake. Lease these properties he did, but more importantly, he learned the business from these two dynamic veterans. Mickey attributes his belief in attaining above-market rents on anything to Steve Shafer, and he thanks Mike for telling him “he didn’t know who he was.” They gave Mickey a chance, and for that, UCR is eternally grateful.

•Larry Leon, owner/partner, Venture Commercial Real Estate
Larry Leon and Associates merged with UCR in late 1991, and suddenly, with the influx of key brokers and accounts, UCR went from virtually nothing to actually something. Most importantly, Larry gave us the entré to ChainLinks Retail Advisors. As Larry taught us best practices and helped instill the retailers’ perspective into our culture, we were approved by ChainLinks. Larry remains a dear and respected friend.

•Terry Montesi, president & CEO, Trademark Property Company
In 1996, Terry reached out to UCR and asked us to lease a grocery-anchored center in North Richland Hills, Texas, one of our first pre-leasing adventures. As Terry’s interest grew to mixed-use, so did ours. Now, for over 12 years, we have helped lease projects like The Woodlands, Alliance Town Center and Watters Creek for Terry. His and Mickey Ashmore’s penchant for creativity has always challenged both groups to seek new levels of marketing. The friendly, competitive spirit is balanced by healthy mutual respect.

•Lynn O’Neil, president, Gilliland Properties, Ltd.
Lynn O’Neil entrusted her family’s properties to Lawrence Attaway and UCR in 1995. It was her belief in our abilities that allowed us to continue to reshape Knox Street. Because Lynn is not a mainstream retail developer, her trust in us helped UCR develop into more deliberate and thoughtful advisors, not just dealmakers. For over 12 years, we have continued to team with Lynn to bring Apple, Restoration Hardware, Viking and many other retailers to the area. Always gracious, Lynn has proven to be a skilled landlord, a very valued client and a wonderful friend.

•Ed Page, president, Page Partners
In 1991, Ed Page, Houston’s ChainLinks member, was wondering who the UCR group in Dallas was. Well, thank God for Ed’s belabored nod of approval and his patience in dealing with our upstart group of neophyte real estate brokers. Though our abilities would directly reflect on Ed, he shared clients from day one. The fact that Ed was looking over our shoulder was a constant reminder to perform and it provided a layer of accountability that proved highly beneficial to UCR. Today, our partnership with Page Partners is exceptional, and our friendship is even better.

•Arthur Rubinfeld, president of global development, Starbucks Corporation
When Arthur, former Director of Real Estate for Starbucks, selected UCR in 1994
to handle North Texas over many other well-known competitors, he gave UCR a
much needed jolt of caffeine. Over 150 deals later, UCR Dallas has proudly
kept the account.

•Dan Slattery, executive vice president, Kimco Developers, Inc.
Because Dan admired UCR’s great leasing success with La Plaza del Norte and Huebner Oaks, he challenged the team to lease what would become the largest open-air shopping center in the state of Texas – The Forum at Olympia Parkway. What Dan did not expect was to be mortified at the Forum groundbreaking ceremony by the toga-clad beauties and Romanesque decorum. Today, Dan continues to look to UCR as a valued service provider and remains an equally valued client.

•Ric Smith, vice president real estate advisory services, Texans Commercial Capital
As one of the many Starbucks reps we have encountered, Ric Smith always appreciated UCR’s efforts. His loyalty and the mutual respect we shared kept us in the saddle at Starbucks during turbulent internal changes. As Ric has moved on to new challenges, he has always stayed with UCR as the representative of choice. We truly appreciate Ric’s sincerity, pathos and friendship, and he has shown many of UCR’s young associates what it means to be a true gentleman.

•Brian Stebbins, CEO, Cooper & Stebbins, L.P., Southlake Town Square
Brian Stebbins selected UCR to pre-lease Southlake Town Square in 1996. Through a monumental effort and focus by Brian and his team, plus his belief in UCR, the vision became a reality. This defining project put UCR on the map in the mixed-use/lifestyle arena and was the precursor to UCR Urban. Brian’s intelligence and strong ability to communicate has had a lasting effect on all of us at UCR. The partners at UCR consider Brian the ultimate role model for any developer who wants to get a seriously complicated project built.

•Art Tropp, senior vice president real estate, Williams-Sonoma, Inc.
In 1994, Art gave UCR’s Larry Leon and Lawrence Attaway the mandate to find street stores for Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn. His belief in us led to the beginning of Knox Street, as it is today. Along with Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn were the first lifestyle tenants that chose UCR to represent them. Today, Art continues to support our efforts as a valuable tenant in many of our projects.

•Samuel Ware, president, Lazarus Property Corp.
When Sam was looking for an AMC Theatre site similar to the one he built in Dallas, the result was the purchase of a foreclosed, 29-acre tract from a foreign bank. He built the 310,000 sq ft La Plaza del Norte center, which became UCR San Antonio’s first major leasing assignment of a power center, as well as the first power center in all of San Antonio. Sam accomplished this feat within a mere 36 months after the deal died for about the 22nd time. His determination throughout the process earned him the nickname, “Save the Deal” Sam. He is also well-known for being the only developer in San Antonio’s history to have the Dixie Chicks play at the groundbreaking of a shopping center.

•John Weber, Sr., president, Weber and Company
Early in 1994, John teamed with Stan Lotridge of UCR to bring DFW their first SuperTarget, located in Watauga Town Crossing. Since that time, John Weber, and now his son, has seen fit to keep us leasing space on a regular basis. John’s bravado is contagious, and when coupled with his entrepreneurial spirit, has served as a constant reminder for all of us to mirror these attributes when it comes to our leasing efforts. Thanks, John, for being a mentor and sounding board for so many of the principals and associates of UCR.


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