Executive Insights: Jihane A. Boury, Harwood International

Harwood International's Jihane Boury talks about master-planning of the district of HARWOOD in Uptown Dallas.
Jihane A. Boury

Jihane Boury joined global real estate developer and investor Harwood International in 2003 and is currently responsible for pre-leasing new developments, build-to-suits, national accounts leasing and overall marketing of spaces for lease for Harwood International in Dallas. She is also involved in the master-planning of the district of HARWOOD, encompassing 18 city blocks in the heart of Uptown Dallas.

As a registered interior designer in the state of Texas, Boury brings 15 years of experience in programming, master planning and all phases of space planning and interior architectural design. Prior to joining Harwood International, Boury was a principal at one of Dallas’ most renowned architectural and interior design firms, where she directed the design and development of major corporate headquarters nationwide, including several pre-eminent Dallas law firms and international advertising companies.

Pairing a background in interior design and expertise in commercial real estate is quite rare, and Boury is able to deliver design options while leasing space. This sets her far apart from her peers, making it easier on the client to find and plan their space more effectively.

“We design our buildings from the inside out,” Jihane told Commercial Property Executive, further stating that the client comes first and in essence they are the ones who build the culture and character within each building. Her passion to deliver perfection and continue making Dallas a better place are her driving forces.

In addition, Boury keeps her Lebanese roots alive, as she is fluent in Arabic, French and English. She has served on the board of the International Red Cross in Beirut and was also involved in the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Hearts and Hammers, and Habitat for Humanity. Boury holds a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from the University of Texas at Arlington.

CPE: What are your current goals at Harwood International?

Boury: We have reached our goal of leasing out the entire district of HARWOOD. The demand for leasing in HARWOOD is higher than ever, and with the opening of Frost Tower next spring we are negotiating to bring the building to 80 percent leased.

Frost Tower will be a 22-story build-to-suit located in the district of HARWOOD. The Class AA office tower will feature approximately 167,000 rental square feet, including two office penthouses with private balconies and over 10,000 rental square feet of mixed retail and landscaped European-inspired gardens along the lower level.

This is a true success story about the ongoing partnership between Frost, a long-term tenant in HARWOOD (since 1996), and the developer, Harwood International, which continues to build as the tenant’s needs grow.

Phase Five is another office development and ready to accommodate up to 320,000 rental square feet.

The district currently has a Walkscore of 92, one of the highest walk scores in the area, and will continuously improve as new developments arise. HARWOOD is a mix of commercial, retail and residential, resort-style mid-rise and high-rise buildings—a place to work and a place to live within an urban oasis of parks and art-filled spaces.

CPE: When did you start working on the Harwood District, and what’s its current status?

Boury: I started working on Azure in HARWOOD in 2003. This year marks 30 Years of HARWOOD, which is a huge milestone for us. Our corporate headquarters are located in the district, and is Uptown Dallas’ fastest-growing district.

Home to such companies as Amegy Bank, The Boston Consulting Group, Emirates Airlines, Frost Bank, HollyFrontier Corp., Jones Day, MoneyGram International, Prologis and Rolex, the six-building development by Harwood International currently showcases more than 2 million square feet of premier Class AA office building, residential multi-family living, retail space and art-filled lobbies. In addition, the campus features Marie Gabrielle Restaurant and Gardens, Mercat Bistro, Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar, and The Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection.

Now an 18-city-block district, HARWOOD will grow to include over 7 million square feet of high-rise and mid-rise office, retail and multi-family residential developments. Coming soon are new phases: cafes and retail.

CPE: Are there any major obstacles to overcome when starting off such an expansive project?

Boury: Uptown is not typically seen as a potential campus location, so it’s important to market that it is in fact the most prime location in the area. We have additional buildable rights of over 5 million square feet and are marketing to Fortune 500 companies that would like to house their offices in Dallas. Dallas is landing corporate relocations and new branch offices more than ever as companies are seeing the advantage to being centrally located in an economically viable city.

CPE: The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is currently experiencing a construction boom. How do you strive to differentiate your product from the competition?

Boury: We have developed a community where our tenants, residents and visitors can enjoy a stimulating environment filled with restaurants, cafes, gardens and artsy spaces. People are seeing the benefit to being part of a community rather than just one building.

In addition, having our own architecture firm is a unique advantage, as it makes for a more cohesive way of designing and creating a vision all under one roof. HDF L.L.C. is our full-service architectural firm dedicated to delivering the best in world-class design, sustainability, planning and construction solutions. Building on the successes of Harwood International in creating exemplary developments by aligning with world-renowned architects such as James KM Cheng, Michael Graves and Richard Keating, HDF’s talented team of architects and designers from around the world has more than a century of cumulative experience in design and construction of commercial and multi-family residential mid-rises and high-rises.

CPE: Tell us more about your upcoming projects. What are your goals for 2014?

Boury: Our plan is to focus on build-to-suit opportunities as well as lease out the remaining space at Frost Tower.

CPE: Where else have you invested, apart from the Metroplex?

Boury: Harwood International has prime offices and projects in select niche markets in Beverly Hills, Dallas, Geneva, London’s West End, Paris, Sunnyvale and Zurich. The full-service real estate company covers every aspect of real estate acquisition, development, construction, design and management of both commercial and multi-family residential mid-rise and high-rise properties.

CPE: What’s one challenge that you’ve overcome on your path to success?

One challenge we faced was showing potential tenants the economics behind building efficient floor-plate plans. For instance, we had a high-profile client in downtown and they had a hard time justifying moving into a newer space with a higher price per square foot. Once I was able to show them how they can be much more efficient and in Dallas’ prime location with HARWOOD’s amenities and services, they realized that they could have the best of everything and were sold.