Trammell Crow leaves lasting lodging imprint following death

TYLER, TX—Master real estate developer Trammell Crow, who died here on Jan.14th at age 94, was mostly known for such skyline defining commercial projects as the Market Center, the Infomart and the Bryan Tower, among other developments, all in Dallas. He is reported to have built roughly 100 million square feet of property during his six-decade-long career. Less well known is that Crow was also active in the lodging sector and his hotel projects extended beyond Dallas to include cities like San Francisco and Atlanta, where Crow projects included the 802-room Hyatt at Embarcadero Center in downtown San Francisco and the 1,260-room Hyatt Regency Atlanta at Peachtree Center. Yet Crow left his imprint on the Dallas hotel market as well. He was the force behind construction of the Anatole, which is located on a 45-acre site a mile north of downtown. Through a series of expansions, the hotel now has 1,606 rooms. The Anatole holds a special place in the affections of many Dallas residents, according to its general manager Marc Messina, who described it as a “hospitality landmark” in that community. Yet Crow’s most lasting contribution to the lodging industry might be his pivotal role in the founding of Wyndham Hotels in Dallas in 1981. In fact, the Anatole flew the Wyndham flag until early 2006 when the management contract was awarded to Hilton, which operates it today. The Wyndham brand has been owned by different entities in recent years and the current Wyndham Hotel Group is actually the former Cendant Hotel Corp. Ironically, the current president and CEO of Wyndham Hotel Group, Eric Danziger, was hired by Crow in 1990 to be president of that first Wyndham brand incarnation. Danziger recalled Crow as a strong role model. “This ‘master builder’ was influential in thousands of people’s careers and lives,” Danziger told HOTEL BUSINESS®. Yet unlike the stereotype of the ruthless, hard-driven business tycoon, Danziger described Crow as quite the opposite. “His humble approach and sharing spirit allowed so many of us to have an enriched life, both professionally and personally,” he said. Similarly, hotel marketing consultant Neil Ostergren recalled Crow positively from the period in the mid-1980s when he served as vp of marketing services for Wyndham and worked closely with Crow. “He was hands-on and certainly in charge, but he didn’t get in the way of anyone doing their job. In the case of the sales and marketing team he understood that we had a skill set he himself didn’t have and he deferred to that expertise accordingly,” Ostergren said. Kirk Kinsell, IHG’s president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, also “had the privilege to work directly with Mr. Crow from 1981 to 1988,” he said, adding, “My career has been shaped by the lessons learned from him. In the seven years [working with him], I had the opportunity to be involved in so many transactions and negotiations of management contracts and many hundreds of millions of dollars in hotel developments. We founded Wyndham and along the way I met and worked with a bunch of talented people.” The privately held Trammell Crow Co., which offers management and brokerage services, went public in 1997. In 2006, CB Richard Ellis acquired the firm for $2.2 billion and still owns it today. Many Crow assets are now held by the family controlled Crow Holdings.