The Comeback – Video Transcript

Female Narrator (00:07):
Craig and Kathryn were married at their home in 1993, and Craig got back to doing what he does best, looking for turnarounds.

Craig Hall (00:14):
My plan was to come back. My goal was not to be large, it was to be successful.

Larry Levey (00:26):
I got a flyer. It was a listing for the sale of St. Paul Place.

Dick Hyman (00:32):
There were two buildings which were substantially vacant at the time.

Craig Hall (00:36):
We all knew it was a risky thing, I suppose, to buy an empty building, but how much worse can it get?

Dick Hyman (00:44):
I’m generally the one that throws shade on a lot of Craig’s ideas. My pitch to him was, “Craig, why do that? Why not put the same amount of capital into something that’s much more cash flow oriented?”

Craig Hall (00:57):
There are some people on our team that were more excited than others.

Dick Hyman (01:00):
But that’s not Craig. Craig is somebody who likes the challenge, likes the home run deal.

Don Braun (01:07):
They bought St. Paul Place first and we bought Hardwood shortly thereafter. Not too long thereafter.

Craig Hall (01:12):
Together they were a little over a million square feet and we added parking for both of them. We changed the lobbies. We did what we’ve always done. We tried to see something that can be improved and make it better.

Dick Hyman (01:26):
Sure enough, leased them up, sold them at a perfect moment in the market and made a fortune.

Craig Hall (01:40):
We bought a number of pieces of property in Frisco and we sold most of them. One we decided to keep and develop was because I thought it would be fun and a bit of a challenge to do a development of primarily office space, and our property was a cow pasture.

Ron Berlin (02:02):
What the hell are you doing in buying this track of land cows out there? Have you lost your mind?

Mark Depker (02:09):
I think some thought he was crazy.

Craig Hall (02:10):
Not some people, everybody.

Larry Harris (02:11):
Why on earth would you buy real estate almost to Oklahoma?

Craig Hall (02:15):
And then I decided we should build a building, and so we figured out an area and where we’re going to build a hundred thousand square foot building.

Larry Levey (02:24):
We had no loan, no tenants, and no road.

Kim Butler (02:30):
I remember brokers telling me, “Can you believe Craig Hall is building way out north?”

Mark Depker (02:36):
We stood where the building would be and scratched our head and just thought, “Wow, this is quite a challenge.”

Kim Butler (02:43):
Well, why would I take a client out there to lease space? You couldn’t even get there except by a dirt road.

Craig Hall (02:48):
I believed it would work. We built the building. It’s finally finished. It’s a hundred percent vacant. We have a grand opening party, invite all the brokers.

Mark Depker (03:02):
We had food.

Craig Hall (03:03):
We had these big shrimp bowls.

Mark Depker (03:04):
We had band playing.

Larry Levey (03:06):
It was fully decked out.

Mark Depker (03:07):
We had banners on the building.

Larry Levey (03:09):
And there were more hall people there than guests.

Mark Depker (03:12):
I think four people showed up.

Craig Hall (03:14):
It was a disaster.

Female Narrator (03:19):
Around the same time that Hall was breaking ground out in Frisco, another interesting opportunity came along.

Kim Butler (03:26):
I started my career in downtown in the mid ’80s. It was actually a good time to learn the business, but a very painful time if you were actually in the business and had money at risk because it was a terrible recession. I had seen eyesore that sat here for years and years, favorably referred to as Stonehenge.

Don Braun (03:46):
All these pillars were sticking out of the ground.

Kim Butler (03:48):
It was rebar and concrete.

Craig Hall (03:50):
And then below grade seven stories of underground garage.

Kim Butler (03:54):
It was the infrastructure plan for the building that just never occurred.

Craig Hall (03:58):
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, they were going to build two 50 story office buildings, 2 million square feet on some land in the arts district. Metropolitan decided in 1986, I think, to stop construction. By 1995, they made a decision that the market was still terrible and they’d rather just take their loss and walk away, and that’s when I was approached. Would I be interested in buying it?

Don Braun (04:26):
It was a very distressed sale, a very opportunistic purchase. Immediately we went and hired an architect to start to try to figure out how to develop this site. Of course, we didn’t develop it for 20 years later.

Female Narrator (04:44):
Meanwhile, Craig and Kathryn were ready for a new adventure. They were both friends and supporters of US President Bill Clinton, and began discussing the possibility of seeking an ambassadorship with the Clinton administration. That conversation included which one of them should vie for the opportunity to serve.

Craig Hall (05:03):
That was a fairly brief conversation. Here’s a person who has a law degree, has run her own business.

Kathryn Hall (05:12):
Part of my life spent in Europe.

Craig Hall (05:13):
Ran for mayor of Dallas.

Kathryn Hall (05:15):
Spoke other languages.

Craig Hall (05:16):
And has a lot of political strengths. Then on the other hand, here’s a guy who just got out of bankruptcy, dropped out of college, probably has some people that don’t like him or are mad at him because it’s been through a rough time.

Kathryn Hall (05:30):
Call came and it was, “Would you like to go to the ambassador to Austria?”

Female Narrator (05:35):
Kathy accepted and Craig asked Don Braun to step into the role of president of Hall Financial Group.

Don Braun (05:41):
To me, it was a great honor and that Craig would placed that responsibility on me, not only the fact that he had named me president, but that he was leaving the country.

News Anchor Ashleigh Banfield (05:52):
When the president needed to appoint a new US ambassador to Austria, he called on a Dallas woman.

News Anchor Steve Eagar (05:57):
He named Kathryn Hall to that post. Fox 4’s Barbara White traveled to Vienna for a behind the scenes look at Hall’s new life.

Female Speaker (06:09):
The United States of America Ambassador to Austria, Kathryn Walt Hall.

Kathryn Hall (06:14):
We are in the age of public diplomacy.

Nice to meet you.

I’m very grateful to the United States. They always send strong women to Austria. I am very proud to be here this evening. It was a time for me that was profound life-changing. We were able to get treaties signed. We did work on the Holocaust to give a measure of justice to the survivors and relatives of the survivors. We had policies in Vienna that brought together young people from warring countries who today I’m sure are in political leadership positions.

News Anchor (06:55):
Like other US ambassadors before her, Hall is a media star. Friends in Dallas may call her Kathy, here, the proper way to address her is…

Waltraud Lenchofer (07:04):
She’s always your Excellency or Madam Ambassador period.

Interviewer (07:08):
And her husband?

Waltraud Lenchofer (07:10):
Well, he can say whatever he wants to say.

Female Narrator (07:13):
Craig Hall left his real estate firm in Dallas to join his wife in a supporting role.

Craig Hall (07:18):
It’s certainly a reversal for me, but I both respect and love my wife a lot. So because of that… But it is not an easy thing or something that I naturally fit into.

Kathryn Hall (07:35):
The adjustment was hard and something for which I will always be indebted to him.

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