Hicks' golden years

Keeping busy in retirement, Hicks, Muse founder Tom Hicks recently announced a joint venture with luxury hotel developer Gatehouse Capital.

Tom Hicks is apparently not spending his retirement on the beach. Last November, for example, the cofounder of Hicks, Muse Tate & Furst completed the buyout of Ocular LCD, a manufacturer of liquid crystal displays, via his family investment firm, Hicks Holdings.

Now, two years after stepping down as head of his namesake private equity firm, Hicks has jumped into the high-end hospitality market, announcing a joint venture with Dallas-based real-estate firm Gatehouse Capital. The new partnership will develop luxury hotels and residential real estate projects in Texas, California and other US regions. The first investment involves the W Hollywood Hotel & Residences project in Los Angeles, set for completion in 2008, which includes a 300-room W hotel, 150 residences and 40,000 square feet of retail space. A person close to the firm declined to specify the size of the investment but noted that the joint venture anticipates developing half a dozen projects over the next three to five years. Many, though not all of those projects, will involve the W hotel brand as well as their new high-end concept “aloft,” an area familiar to Gatehouse Capital.

Gatehouse, founded in 1995 by Marty Collins, has completed W Hotels in Northern California and San Diego, and is currently developing a similar project in Dallas. In fact, Hicks and Collins, though they have known each other for 20 years, first started working together on the Dallas project, which is situated in Victory Park near the American Airlines Center. Hicks Holdings has a stake in Victory Park as well as a 50 percent ownership interest in the American Airlines Center.

Hicks Holdings also controls two professional sports teams, the Texas Rangers baseball club and the Dallas Stars hockey team, which plays in the AA sports arena. Some of Hicks' other real estate ventures in Texas include an urban town next to the new Dallas Cowboys football field and a forty-acre, mixed-use project adjacent to the Dr. Pepper ballpark in Frisco, Texas.

But Hicks is no stranger to the real estate market beyond Dallas and sports arenas. Through Hicks Trans American Partners, Hicks Holdings also pursues South American real estate investments. And while at Hicks, Muse, one of the firm's affiliates, Olympus Real Estate, was actively involved in highend hotel development and other types of projects.