Henry S. Miller’s Vance Miller Dies

Vance Miller, CEO of Henry S. Miller Brokerage, died Feb. 23 of cardiac arrest.

By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

Vance C. Miller, CEO of Henry S. Miller Brokerage L.L.C., died February 23 of cardiac arrest. The 79-year-old leader in Dallas-area real estate passed away just one year shy of the 100th anniversary of the highly successful commercial real estate firm founded by his late father, Henry S. Miller Jr.

“He was a giant in the industry not only in Dallas/Fort Worth, but in the State of Texas,” Sam Kartalis, president & COO of HSM, told Commercial Property Executive.

Born in Oklahoma but bred in Texas, Miller had a huge hand in creating what has become one of the Lone Star State’s largest independent full-service commercial real estate firms. His fingerprints have been on HSM since he joined the firm in 1959 and moved forward full-steam ahead, becoming president in 1970 and helping spearhead the firm’s expansion from $81 million in transaction volume to more than $2 billion just one decade later.

The accomplishment was followed by HSM’s sale in the early 1980s to commercial real estate firm Grubb & Ellis, where Miller sat on the board until 1991, when Miller and his father reacquired HSM.

“Vance and I and Robert Grunnah put back together the new HSM; it was a lot of fun,” Kartalis added. “We created the environment everyone had enjoyed in the previous firm.”

What Miller has since assisted in building is a company that is well known for deftly guiding clients through transactions involving veritably every single traditional property type, as well as assets in such indigenous sectors as farm and ranch. He took his–and the company’s–knowledge base to new heights with the development of the golf courses at Prestonwood Country Club, a property owned by the Miller Family.

However, perhaps Miller’s biggest claim to fame is Highland Park Village, the upscale 250,000-square-foot property which, when HSM sold it in 2009, fetched $170 million, or $165 million more than the company had paid for it in 1976. “HSM got the listing, and at first Vance was very much involved in selling it and he showed it to quite a few [national developers] whose names you would know but they all turned it down because it was old and somewhat rundown,” Kartalis said. “But it was in an excellent location and being the entrepreneur he was, Vance went back to his father and said, ‘If they don’t want it, we’ll buy it.’ Today, it’s one of most successful shopping centers ever built in the country.”

Miller leaves behind a firm that provides its clients with comprehensive services through its various divisions, including, Henry S. Miller Realty Services; Miller Realty Investment Partners; Henry S. Miller Development Group; Miller Club Group; Henry S. Miller Interests Inc. and Vance C. Miller Interests Inc.

Texas is big but it was not big enough to contain HSM, so in 1993, Miller orchestrated the firm’s expansion to the other side of the country with investments in Perry & Butler Realty Inc. and American Western Mortgage Co. in Colorado.

“He was able to identify an opportunity and take advantage,” Kartalis concluded. “He was a great man. He was very giving, very generous very much involved in civic duties. He will be sorely missed.”

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