Mogul helped transform Village into destination
In 1976, Highland Park Village did not embody the presence, fine dining, and shopping that we enjoy today. It was in a state of disorder. The grounds looked shabby, there was an odd mix of tenants, and investors showed little interest in the property.
Until the Henry S. Miller Company stepped in.
Rather than selling the property like they were originally hired to do, Henry S. Miller Jr. and his son, Vance Miller, saw great potential and acquired the land themselves.
The father-son duo set out to revamp the image of the landmark by renovating, landscaping, and letting proper tenants.
The company brought in Ralph Lauren, creating the first lease of its kind with a retail store.
A second major move that was originally deemed controversial was the closing of the beloved Los Vaqueros restaurant to bring in Tex-Mex hot spot Mi Cocina. Miller Jr.’s wife, Juanita, had a large hand in this shift.
Ultimately, the company created a venue with high-end retail and dining, but maintained the service tenants that served the needs of the community.
“They turned the Village into a world-class shopping center,” said Greg Miller, president and CEO of Henry S. Miller Companies and son of the late Vance Miller. “It really was a family effort. My uncle, Henry S. Miller III, and my aunt, Jackie Stewart, were very much a part of the project, as well.”
To date, it is still very much a family business.
Henry S. Miller is one of the largest full-service, independent, commercial real estate firms in Texas.
In addition to Highland Park Village, Henry S. Miller Companies is responsible for Preston Royal Village and other prominent landmarks that have shaped Dallas.
“Our story is the story of Dallas,” Miller said. “We watched our city grow into an international city. Likewise, our company grew along with it and played a big part in seeing that growth.”
Henry S. Miller Sr. launched the company in 1914, just one year after the founding of the town of Highland Park.
It started as a one-man shop and grew into one of the most respected companies in the business with regional offices spanning six cities. It was the first to create specialty divisions within a real estate firm, offering a retail group, office group, industrial group, land group, and so on.
Several prominent names in the local real-estate community began with Henry S. Miller Companies, including Roger Staubach and Virginia Cook.
Sam Kartalis is proud to be in that number, as well. Kartalis began his real estate career with Henry S. Miller in 1974 before pursuing his own ventures. In 1994, Kartalis returned to the company as president and chief operating officer.
He’s proud of the legacy that has been created by the firm.
“The company has done so much in influencing the growth of Dallas and for providing the platform for so many entrepreneurial real estate startups,” Sam Kartalis said.
Greg Miller looks forward to continuing the legacy. He took the reigns of the company in April following the passing of his father, Vance Miller.
He believes his father’s most admirable quality was his “thou shalt not whine” mentality. Pair that with the gentle giant demeanor that he saw in his grandfather, Henry S. Miller, Jr., and you get the foundation for the fourth generation Miller’s leadership.
“I try to embody those two great character traits. A powerful gentleman with a mental toughness,” Miller said. “Our company motto ‘is it fair? And is it just?’ And I always try to carry that tradition on.”
One hundred years down and counting.
This story appears in the August edition of Preston Hollow People, on stands now.