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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Walker brings back real estate firm

SCM Real Estate Services

Vandergriff Town Center

200 N. Mesquite St., Suite 202

Arlington 76011

(817) 226-5000


The company’s mission statement is: Making Places Better.

Gary Walker’s professional world has come full circle.

A company he founded and cultivated for more than two decades has returned to its roots as a niche commercial real estate services firm based in Arlington.

Bringing SCM Real Estate Services back has been a triumphant move for Walker.

“What has happened to us is exciting,” Walker said. “We built it and ran it for more than 20 years and we’re happy to bring it back to where it was and have the support of a lot of clients.”

Walker founded SCM Real Estate Services in 1992 and grew it into a thriving company that provides management services to owners of office, retail and warehouse properties across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The company’s motto “making places better” defines its priority to go the extra mile for its clients.

Walker understands the importance of providing a quality experience because he simultaneously leads a property investment company called SkyWalker Property Partners.

But it was Walker’s desire to expand SCM and give it national presence that led to a partnership with the New York-based hedge fund, Waterfall Asset Management, which resulted in SCM becoming Coldwell Banker Commercial Alliance DFW in 2013.

Through further mergers and acquisitions that company became Coldwell Banker Commercial Advisors, one of the largest private commercial real estate firms in country with 29 offices and more than 500 employees.

Walker served as managing principal of the Coldwell Banker Alliance DFW and CBC Advisors DFW, stepping down from his role in 2018.

When the management change was announced, Walker said in a statement that he wanted to focus on brokerage and investments.

“The partnership had dissolved,” he said, leaving the door open for Walker to start over with SCM.

“On June 1, SCM Real Estate Services was reborn to service private client property owners like me,” he said.

The experience of SCM’s team members and their insight as property owners is key to the company’s culture of stewardship of clients’ investments and its resourcefulness, he said.

Although Walker will be at the helm, he won’t have day-to-day involvement in property management operations as he continues to concentrate on brokerage and investment. Brian Summers, who brings more than 20 years’ experience as an executive in property management, has taken over that role.

Walker, 55, has spent his entire 30-year career in real estate, which he quickly settled on after earning his bachelor’s degree from Baylor University in finance in 1986. At first, he considered a career in financial services but then realized that managing and investing stocks and bonds was “too intangible.”

“I though real estate had a lot more to offer because it involved a lot more face-to-face contact and was a lot more tangible,” he said.

But Walker quickly confronted the reality that he was launching his real estate career on the cusp of one of the darkest periods for the industry in Texas history: the savings and loan crisis.

Walker, who grew up in Richardson and now lives in Fort Worth, started out like other newbies as an office leasing agent. He and another agent were assigned to lease two buildings in the Mid-Cities area that were only 10 percent occupied and were largely unfinished concrete forms.

But Walker and his co-worker were promised if they worked hard and leased the space, the developer would complete the finish-out. The two worked hard to sign several leases and then waited on the developer.

“Then we got a call from a savings and loan telling us they had foreclosed,” Walker recalled. The lender told them they would honor the leases and encouraged them to keep going, he said.

A few months later, another call came from the savings and loan, informing them that the property had been taken over by the Resolution Trust Corp., the U.S. government-owned asset management company charged with liquidating real estate-related assets such as mortgage loans that had been assets of the many savings and loan associations that had been declared insolvent.

Despite the unfortunate experience, Walker was not dissuaded.

He went to work with a friend at a small brokerage firm and then decided to strike out on his own as a leasing agent, working with tenants and landlords to lease commercial space. About 90 percent of his work was with office space.

Building on that success, he added property management to his list of services as he launched SCM Real Estate Services as a full-service brokerage and property management firm for commercial properties, medical office space, investment sales and tenant representation.

Around the time he launched the SCM, Walker also began looking to buy property, even though he didn’t have any capital to invest. His first purchase was a foreclosed condo.

“I moved into it and lived there with a roommate,” he said.

Taking advantage of the bargains on the market in the early 1990s, Walker bought more condos and then around 1992, he bought a foreclosed strip center.

“I was doing commercial work by day and investing at night,” he said.

Walker has been involved in multiple real estate partnerships since buying his first condo in 1990. SkyWalker manages multiple discretionary funds that were created to purchase investment real estate.

As founder and president of SkyWalker, he led the group to purchase 21 properties between 2010 and 2014 valued at more than $50 million. SkyWalker’s portfolio currently contains more than 800,000 square feet of commercial real estate assets and developed land.

Walker said most of SkyWalker’s properties are located in the Mid-Cities area, along with Arlington, Irving and Grapevine. Some are also in Fort Worth.

An important focus for Walker, has been the revitalization of Downtown Arlington. He currently serves on the executive board of Downtown Arlington Inc., his third round of service for downtown economic development.

With SCM located in Arlington, Walker involvement in downtown’s vitality led to the purchase and renovation of the historic Vandergriff Building, now known as The V, in 2003.

Built in 1927, it is the oldest commercial building in Arlington. The building at 255 N. Center St. was originally a Chevrolet dealership, perched in the former “Auto Isle” of Arlington where most dealerships clustered. SCM and SkyWalker were formerly located in the building.

In 2013, SkyWalker purchased Vandergriff Town Center, a downtown Arlington landmark, next to the Vandergriff Building. SCM is now located there. Walker has collected and contributed Arlington memorabilia to the area as well as a commissioning a mural on the Vandergriff Building that tells the story of Arlington’s past.

Walker has a long record of public and community service, including being a board member of the Trinity River Vision Tax Increment Financing District, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and the Arlington Housing Authority.

He is a member of the Fort Worth Chamber and graduate of Leadership North Texas and Leadership Arlington.

He also devotes time to helping budding entrepreneurs through organizations such as Baylor Angel Network. His other personal service includes organizations such as Meals on Wheels, Big Brothers & Sisters, Arlington Police Association’s Santa Cop Program and CASA of Tarrant County.

One of his cherished projects is volunteering with Youth with a Mission’s Homes of Hope, which leads homebuilding efforts for poor families in Mexico and other impoverished nations.

An avid basketball fan, he has held season tickets to the Dallas Mavericks for more than 30 years but follows the sport at all levels.

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