DALLAS (Sept. 26, 2016) — For the first time since its founding in 1973, Woodbine Development Corporation has a new president. Founder, Chairman and President John Field Scovell named Les J. Melcher as his successor and the new president of the full-service real estate development company.
Scovell also announced several other leadership changes: He promoted Ian James “Jim” Cihak to chief operating officer and chief financial officer. He also named King Scovell and Dupree Scovell as managing partners. Additionally, he promoted King to serve as chief development officer, based in the Dallas office, and Dupree to serve as chief investment officer, based in the Los Angeles office. Changes were effective September 1.
There’s one thing, however, that will stay the same—Scovell will continue in his role as chairman of Woodbine, remaining actively involved in the business.
“I have always said that development is a team sport. While it has been a privilege to lead this company for nearly 44 years, it is time for a quarterback change, and the next generation is well equipped to take Woodbine to the next level,” Scovell said. “It will be exciting for me to work alongside them as we move forward while honoring the formula that got us this far—‘have good partners!’”
Melcher joined Woodbine in 1997 and most recently served as chief investment officer. Cihak joined the company in 1984 and previously held roles as senior vice president, controller and treasurer. King joined the company in 2007 after five years at JPI, a multi-family real estate firm in Irving, Texas, where he worked in the construction, asset management, capitalization and acquisition phases of the business. Dupree came to Woodbine and opened the L.A. office in 2011 after spending five years at Trammell Crow Company of Dallas, where he focused on office, industrial and retail/mixed-use development.
John Field Scovell and Dallas businessman Ray L. Hunt of the Hunt Oil Company founded Woodbine in 1973. The Woodbine Sand in East Texas provided the financial base for the founding of Hunt Oil Company in 1934, and more than four decades ago it served as the naming inspiration for the real estate company formed by Scovell and Hunt. After a lot of research and reading, Scovell recommended the name as a salute to the Hunt family.
It was the relationship between Scovell and Hunt that led to the creation of Woodbine—and their relationship would ultimately become the foundation on which the real estate company’s other relationships, partnerships and projects would be built in the ensuing years.
“It’s a relationship business,” Scovell said. “And relationships are one of the pillars of the Woodbine way. The companies and organizations—and even friends and families—that partner with us understand that we’re in this together, and we don’t take these relationships lightly. We’ve always said, you don’t appreciate good partners until you have had a bad one…fortunately, we have had a lot of good ones.”
Keeping relationships front and center, the real estate company has grown its asset base into a portfolio of just over $1 billion with a geographic reach that’s deeper and wider than Texas—also securing strong returns for its partners and collaborating on multiple projects with several investors since 1973. While maintaining its deepest roots in Dallas, Woodbine has also seized opportunities beyond the Lone Star State—it opened offices in Phoenix in 1996 and Los Angeles in 2011. During the last five years, Woodbine has expanded its reach from a few select states in the Southwest to a total of 14 states, stretching from D.C. to Florida to California to Oregon.
Across the decades, the developer has built a portfolio of notable and award-winning projects, shaping skylines and landscapes across America. The company’s first project—Reunion Tower and Hyatt Regency Dallas at Reunion—opened in 1978, and it was ultimately one of the first private-public-partnership endeavors in the United States.
“I was 26 when we started Woodbine and Reunion projects,” Scovell said. “Had we been older, wiser, smarter, the Reunion project wouldn’t exist. We didn’t know you couldn’t do that. We didn’t know you shouldn’t attempt to build a project where you must deal with railroads, municipalities, preservationists and highways—all in a market that hadn’t built a new downtown hotel in 10 years. Youth was a big advantage, as was having a partner like Ray Hunt and the absolute trust he put in me and our team.”
With moxie and an unwavering commitment to making it happen, Woodbine changed the Dallas skyline, created a notable landmark and added the first new hotel to downtown in more than a decade. It would be the first of many major developments it would create—among them Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio, La Cantera Resort in San Antonio, The Westin Kierland Resort and Kierland Commons in Phoenix/Scottsdale and Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa outside of Austin.
In recent years, the company has focused on hospitality development, including ground-up projects in the limited-, select- and full-service categories for brands like Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott and Starwood. It has also partnered on various boutique and independent destinations, including The Sentinel in Portland, Oregon, in collaboration with the Provenance Hotels, and the Mountain Shadows resort and condominium residences in Paradise Valley, Arizona, currently under development with Westroc Hospitality of Scottsdale.
“It was always home-run derby in our early stages, and Reunion was our marker. In the years after that, our focus was on large-scale destination hospitality resorts,” Scovell said. “But as the times have changed and the appetite of capital has changed, we’ve shifted from just playing home-run derby to also playing small ball. We are now actively developing both urban full-service hotels and select- and limited-service projects across the country with multiple brand partners. Our acquisition platform, which has been focused on repositioning independent and lifestyle hotels, has been a great success for our partners and investors as well.”
Since opening its doors, Woodbine has developed more than 7,000 hotel rooms, 5 five full-service spas, 6 golf clubhouses and ancillary buildings, 12 fitness centers, 20 master plans, 144 holes of golf along (with negotiated access agreements on another 54 holes), 4.3 million square feet of office space in 36 projects and more than one million square feet of special-event venues. It has also completed a total of 7 historical renovation projects.
About Woodbine Development Corporation
Woodbine Development Corporation is a full-service real estate company with over 40 years of development, investment, acquisition and asset management experience. With offices in Dallas, Phoenix and Los Angeles, Woodbine specializes in hotels, resorts and mixed-use developments throughout the United States. The company’s hospitality portfolio features major brands, independent hotels, full-service destinations and select-service stays alike. Since 1973, Woodbine has been involved in more than $7 billion in commercial real estate projects, including the development, ownership, asset management, repositioning and renovation of over 7,000 hotel rooms. To learn more, visit www.woodbinedevelopment.com.