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Overhead power lines and light poles owned by Oncor are silhouetted as the morning sun rises over Camp Wisdom Road in Dallas on Sunday, March 20, 2016. Texas electric power finance fans know that the state’s largest utility, Energy Future Holdings, went into bankruptcy almost exactly two years ago.
Oncor owns about 119,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines that deliver power to more than three million homes and businesses in North and West Texas. EFH went bankrupt in 2014 when it was unable to pay debt amassed in a record $45 billion leveraged buyout seven years earlier of the former TXU Corp. 2) The Sunday document dump in Delaware means the old plan as approved there in September is dead.
This is consistent with comments made in Thursday’s bankruptcy court hearing, during which EFH counsel emphasized that the alternative plan under consideration would allow ongoing pursuit of a REIT transaction and related PUCT application. Hunt will continue to move forward and seek the rehearing in an effort to allow a REIT transaction sponsored by Hunt to remain the transaction of choice.
A guy running a goat farm transforms into a GameStop store employee in the Grapevine-based retailer’s new TV spots. Or more to the point, “it’s that easy” to trade or sell back a game, said Dave Kroencke, principal at The Richards Group, the Dallas-based firm that created the ads for GameStop.
The spots start running Monday on several channels including cable’s Comedy Central, a pretty solid favorite for at least the older players among GameStop’s 42 million PowerUp reward card members.
This is the first time GameStop is doing some brand-building on television, said Frank Hamlin, GameStop’s chief marketing officer. But these spots highlight what GameStop is credited with pioneering: the used game business.
The timing is right as the video gaming industry prepares for virtual reality hardware hitting the market later this year, Hamlin said.
The ads will relaunch in August in time for some major new releases coming in the last half of the year.
Another new spot has a super hero character flying through early, nostalgic versions of Halo and Assassin’s Creed.
Craig Hall has built 16 office buildings in his Frisco business campus but this will be the first hotel.
Starting last year developer Craig Hall began working on plans for a major makeover of his Hall Office Park in Frisco.
The 20-year-old business campus on the Dallas North Tollway is Frisco’s largest office district with more than 2 million square feet. Hall has built more than a dozen buildings in the project since buying the land in the late 1990s. Newer developments like the nearby Legacy West in Plano and the planned Frisco Station project on the Dallas North Tollway are combining office, retail, restaurant and residential space to create a mixed-use environment.
Developer Hall has said he plans to add retail and restaurant space to Hall Office Park, but that’s not all.
The developer just got approval from Frisco’s planning and zoning commission to build a high-rise hotel at the entrance to Hall Office Park at the tollway and Gaylord Parkway.
The 10-story, 170-room hotel will be one of Hilton’s high-end Curio hotels, according to details provided to Frisco city planners. Curio is the same Hilton brand that plans to operate the hotel in the Statler-Hilton redevelopment in downtown Dallas.
The Hall Office Park Curio hotel will be more than 122,000 square feet and planned for one of the last large vacant tracts in the business campus. An Omni Hotel is being built just north of Hall Office Park in the Dallas Cowboy’s new Star headquarters, practice, training center and mixed-use development. Hall Office Park’s new hotel will be at the northeast corner of the tollway and Gaylord Parkway.
The expansion of the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine will be slightly larger than first proposed and include a 9-story hotel and ballroom building. The expansion of the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine will be slightly larger than proposed and include a 9-story hotel and ballroom building. The $120 million expansion plan, which was approved this month by both the Grapevine Planning Commission and the City Council, will add 344,000 square feet to what already is one of the largest hotels in the state. Announced in January by the hotel’s owner, Ryman Hospitality Properties Inc., the expansion will add 90,500 square feet of conference space and will add 303 guest rooms to the existing 1,511. The Gaylord project represents a scaled-back version of a 2007 plan that would have made the Texan the largest hotel in the state. The initially proposed $315 million expansion to the Grapevine resort would have added 500 rooms and 200,000 square feet of meeting space.
A portion of the building will be dressed in glass, with a terrace and views of Grapevine Lake. When the Dallas Independent School District headquarters on Ross Avenue hits the market, look for a scramble by developers to buy the prime property.
On Thursday, DISD voted to acquire an office tower on North Central Expressway and consolidate its offices in the North Dallas tower. The district plans to sell the properties it will move out of, including its current headquarters and surrounding properties at Ross and Washington avenues just east of downtown. DISD owns almost 10 acres on Ross in an area that’s already seeing rapid redevelopment with apartments, shops and townhouses. Along with the main headquarters building at the south corner of Ross and Washington, the district occupies two other corners there. The DISD holdings are just blocks from where apartment developers are putting up hundreds of new units. Builders will have a keen interest in DISD’s old digs, said Steve Bancroft, senior managing director of Dallas-based Trammell Crow Residential. The DISD Human Resources Building on Ross is among the properties that could be up for grabs. With tax appraisals going out soon, it’s no surprise that Texas is being singled out as a state with some of the highest property taxes.
Texas ranked as the state with the fifth highest property tax burden in the country, trailing only Illinois, New York, New Hampshire and New Jersey, according to a new study by CoreLogic.
The average property tax rate in the Lone Star State is about 70 percent higher than the nationwide average rate of 1.31 percent. Across the country a homeowner with a property valued at $200,000 will pay $2,620 a year in property taxes, CoreLogic said. While Texas often claims that its high property taxes are offset by the lack of a state income tax, studies show that’s only partly true. A recent study by WalletHub showed that Texas was among the two dozen states with the highest overall tax burden.
Texas residents’ total state and local tax burden is more than 11 percent, according to WalletHub.
The largest retail project to open in 2015 in North Texas was Nebraska Furniture Mart in The Colony. We aren’t applying for their store credit at the same rate that folks do in Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa. Oh, and we’re ignoring that big, beautiful parking garage the company went to the trouble of building so our trucks and SUVs don’t bake in the Texas sun. The pressure was on even before the store in The Colony on State Highway 121 was preparing to open. The Texas-size Nebraska Furniture Mart, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate — which is holding its famous annual meeting in Omaha this weekend — would “do over $1 billion” in first-year sales, Buffett said on national TV in March 2015.


Total sales in the first full year ended up being about $750 million, which is still enormous and puts The Colony performance right up there with just a handful of single U.S. A billion is a huge number even when it’s applied to 560,000 square feet of selling space, backed up with the capability of having that sofa you just bought loaded on your truck in 10 minutes. In its first year, Nebraska Furniture Mart snatched the largest market share for furniture in Dallas-Fort Worth, said Edward Lipsett, director of the local store. Shoppers get the furniture part — it’s in huge letters outside the building — but the fact that the store also sells appliances, electronics and flooring hasn’t been communicated well, he said. The higher-end furniture is doing best, Lipsett said, and he expects the floor space that comes with designer services will be expanded. Britt Beemer, CEO of America’s Research Group, has been to the store several times in the past year as part of the research he’s doing for Nebraska Furniture Mart. The Colony store is competing with a lot more existing furniture, electronics and appliance stores vs. Fewer customers here are seeking in-store financing for their purchases than at its other stores in Omaha, Des Moines and Kansas City, he said.
An electronic tote board keeps track of the available parking garage spaces at the Nebraska Furniture Mart. About half of the store’s customers want delivery and half take it home themselves, which is about how it goes in the other stores. Lipsett believes consumers are benefiting from the store’s presence even if they don’t shop there. A while back, the store added a sign to the parking garage that says “free parking.” The garage entrance has a digital screen showing how many spaces are available on each level. It cost $400 million to build Nebraska Furniture Mart, the warehouse and five-level parking garage. Coming later this year will be Heritage Pizza Co., and a Truck Yard beer garden is planned for summer 2017. The message from company officials was “stay the course.” That whatever problems smaller and lesser energy companies are having in an era of low prices, Exxon is doing fine for the long haul.
He did say that the current oversupply of oil that is keeping prices down is likely to continue into 2017.
Digging into the data, whatever money the company made was on its chemical sales and not on the oil business.
And yet, Exxon Mobil actually produced more oil in the first quarter of 2016 compared with a year ago and compared with the fourth quarter of 2015.
This counters some analysts who worry that the  sharp drop in what the entire industry is spending on exploration and development could eventually lead to a fuel shortage. Exxon Mobil was one of several oil companies reporting dismal earnings for the first quarter than nonetheless exceeded expectations. On Thursday, Bloomberg’s survey of 25 analysts had 30 percent recommending the stock as a buy, 22 percent saying to sell and 48 percent calling for a hold. The couple has been looking at houses since January and get outbid time after time — even when they make an offer over the asking price. For the third spring in a row Dallas-area homebuyers are getting hammered with too much demand and not enough supply. Home prices this year are up by more than 10 percent from last year in most Dallas-area neighborhoods.
And there’s less than a 2-month supply of houses listed with real estate agents as of the first quarter.
In Plano, where the Radfords have been shopping for a house, there’s only about a 1-month supply of houses to chose from. Even that’s no guarantee. If another potential buyer offers more money or better purchase terms, you’re out of luck. Tanya Rutledge, their sales agent with Keller Williams Realty, said it’s hard for buyers not to get discouraged in a market like North Texas where prices are at record levels and the inventory of houses on the market is near an all time low. As one of the biggest job and population growth markets in the country, the Dallas-area should be used to its runaway home market. Even with the tight market, some Dallas-area residential districts have seen stout increases in sales in the first quarter of 2016. Sales are up this year by more than 25 percent in a handful of markets, including Mesquite, Irving and the Colony.
Gaines said so far the slump in Texas’ energy sector and worries early in the year about the bumpy stock market have been shrugged off by homebuyers. Dallas area homebuyers who stepped back from the market last summer hoping things would calm down are now regretting that move, sales agents say. While the number of for sale signs this year has increased by a fraction in some Dallas neighborhoods, it’s still not enough.
A growing number of sellers are requiring potential buyers to agree to the purchase regardless of the appraisal with special clauses in the contract.
A groundbreaking is just weeks away for JPMorgan Chase’s huge new office campus in the Legacy West development in Plano.
The banking giant said Thursday that it has completed the purchase of 49 acres at Headquarters Drive and Communications Parkway west of Dallas North Tollway.
The development site will be used for a six-building office campus that will house 6,000 Chase workers consolidating from locations throughout North Texas.
Chase will join Toyota, FedEx Office and Liberty Mutual Insurance as major employers in the $3.2 billion, 255-acre Legacy West mixed-use development. Commercial real estate firm KDC will be the development partner for the new office campus, according to Chase. Chase also purchased a 1-acre site at Legacy Drive and Communications Parkway, where it will build a retail-banking center. Chase’s new regional business center will include more than 1.4 million square feet of office space. Our current townhome project at 1210 Broadway Avenue is being built to achieve Energy Star certification. To have a specific home classified as an Energy Star home, the home then needs to be constructed to much higher energy efficiency standards than a standard home. Energy Star homes will generally perform better than standard homes in terms of insulation, air tightness, electricity consumption, water consumption, and ventilation. Energy "vampires" in your home are devices that suck energy while providing little to no use. Inefficiency caused by dirty filters, dirty parts or worn components will make your home heating system work harder than it should, costing you money. And that a central part of the plan to emerge is the sale of Oncor, the company that runs the power lines. Either the Hunt group could have put up $50 million (not chump change, but not so much compared with the entire size of an $18 billion deal) or lose the right to be the exclusive plan moving forward. In addition to power line company Oncor, EFH owns Luminant, which runs the utility’s power plants.
The proposed new plan filed in Delaware sets up two possible tracks, one being the Hunt plan.
The new plan filed by EFH early this morning explicitly contemplates a potential REIT transaction under our current proceeding before the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT). That’s a corporate structure that would allow the new company about $250 million in tax breaks annually.


In the past, its TV ads have been about the next blockbuster video game release, he said, and it will still be doing that.
GameStop buys back about $1 billion worth of games and equipment annually that its customers use to buy more stuff from its stores. It was to start in 2008 and finish in 2010 but was largely shelved as the recession ravaged the hotel industry. And according to surveys conducted throughout the past 12 months by America’s Research Group, 97 percent of shoppers who made a purchase said they would return.
In electronics, the home theater selection will be expanded too, because area shoppers have more of an appetite for it than in the company’s other markets.
He said the store is profitable in its first year and should make that $1 billion target in the third or fourth year.
And there’s direct access from the garage into the store, but “unless it’s raining really hard, people aren’t using it,” Lipsett said. Rock & Brews, the restaurant owned by KISS members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, opened in March. But the world’s largest publicly traded oil company didn’t offer much guidance to investors or members of the public who wonder what will happen with those prices.
Regardless of what it’s going to do, it’s going to do it,” Exxon Mobil vice president Jeff Woodbury said in a call with analysts. That’s partly because the low prices that crush oil profits mean less expensive costs for producing petrochemicals. Natural gas production dropped a bit from a year ago but was up compared with the fourth quarter of 2015. And while the amount spent on development this quarter dropped significantly from a year ago.
Upstream operations recorded a loss of $832 million, compared to a loss of $52 million in the first quarter of 2015. Overall sales are up 10 percent from first quarter 2015 in the almost four dozen residential areas The Dallas Morning News tracks each quarter. To become an Energy Star home builder in Saskatoon, home builders need to take Energy Star training and then become certified as an Energy Star home builder. This is accomplished by performing a number of required efficiency upgrades as well as selecting a number of optional upgrades to achieve the Energy Star efficiency level.
Environmental Protection Agency created the Energy Star program, originally under the Clean Air Act and later under the Energy Policy Act, to identify and promote energy-efficient products and building to reduce energy consumption, improve energy security and reduce pollution.
Homes, buildings and industrial plants can also earn the rating by completing an inspection by an EPA-approved third-party organization and fulfilling certain requirements. The interplay of government, business, and market forces brought together through ENERGY STAR has changed the energy efficiency landscape." (Ref. Up to $800 value! These programmable thermostats are ideal for people who have a set schedule, leaving and returning home at the same time each day. And that for the past eight months, a group led by the Dallas-based Hunts has been trying to swing the deal for Oncor. If there’s a storm this week and power lines go down, the same techs will be out there fixing the problems.
There’s a hearing on Wednesday at the Public Utility Commission where the Hunt representatives will be asking for a chance to get some of the more contentious issues reworked.
Whether some of that should go back to customers in the form of a rate cut is one of the issues the Hunts want to take back the PUC.
So that gives the Hunts less than three months to get the needed government approvals in hand and in a form that the investors will find attractive. And $1 billion is a lot of sofas, beds, dishwashers, smartphones, headphones, TVs, rugs, ceramic tile and hardwood floors in a market that already has a lot of stores. That compares with a national average of 58 percent in the furniture category, according to the consumer behavior research firm based in Charleston, S.C.
Selling patio furniture year-round is also a difference the store is adjusting to, he said.
The bigger 400-acre Grandscape development it anchors will be a $1.5 billion project when it’s completed in a few years. It announced a boost in dividends of 2 cents per share — the smallest rise in five years. ENERGY STAR qualified new homes are substantially more energy efficient than homes built to the minimum code requirements.
Energy Star identifies and labels products with a yellow Energy Guide label when they meet certain requirements that qualify them as energy efficient, making it easier for consumers to select products in the marketplace that will conserve energy and lower their energy costs. Simply unplugging the adapter from the outlet will kill this common energy vampire and save you some money. Call Hillside for a maintenance appointment today, and we'll give you $50 OFF your bill for this service call! A programmable thermostat will turn your equipment on and off to meet your schedule, so it is warm when you get home, but saving you money while you are away. And for various reasons, notably issues with the Texas Public Utility Commission, the deal has not been swung. And so early Sunday (these people do not believe in weekends) the current EFH debtors filed a new plan (more than 260 pages of documents) with the bankruptcy court in Delaware. If that happens, it’s possible the investors behind the Hunt plan might be willing to move forward and close the deal.
But if that doesn’t close pretty fast, it proposes essentially selling Oncor off to its creditors. The ads were tested in several local markets, Hamlin said, and the campaign lifted comparable sales, trades and brought in new customers.
Our ENERGY STAR qualified new homes are independently verified by a third-party Home Energy Rater to ensure they meet ENERGY STAR energy efficiency guidelines.
As consumers, like you and me, have realized there is a cost savings associated with Energy Star labeled appliances, lighting products and heating and cooling equipment, we've made smarter choices for ourselves as well as the environment.
Unplug other electronic devices around your home when not in use—TVs, DVRs, game consoles—and you could save your family about $100 annually in electricity. If your schedule is a bit unpredictable, consider a programmable thermostat that you can access from anywhere you have your smartphone or Internet access. Which being mostly hedge funds and other large financial institutions, likely don’t much want to be long-term bosses for a utility and will be trying to sell it to someone else. Turn your equipment on or off from anywhere, adjust the temperature, check outside temperature, and even change your program schedule whenever you need!
The Hunt group said Sunday that it is still full-speed-ahead with trying to close the deal. The Hunts stress a benefit to having Texas owners for the utility that owns and operates Oncor’s assets. So any other proposal would be stacked up — assuming the judge agrees to let the new EFH plan move forward.



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