Owen Hannay was born and raised in Dallas. But he spent third through fifth grades overseas, when his banking executive father’s work took the family to Japan. The experience left an indelible impression.
On the weekends, Hannay and his younger brother would use their subway and bus passes and explore Tokyo. They’d take off at 8 or 9 in the morning, and their parents wouldn’t expect them home until 5 or 6 at night.
“Tokyo was totally safe,” he says. “It was the first time I experienced honest-to-god, big-city mass transit, and it was wonderful. But when we moved back to Dallas, I had to constantly ask, “Mom, can you drive me?’”
An appreciation for public transportation played a big part in Hannay’s decision to acquire The Awalt Building along the DART rail line back in 2000. Since then, he has made a number of other West End buys—including a three-building portfolio at Elm and North Record streets that he picked up last December. Of the 1 million square feet of office space available in the historic district, Hannay now owns about a quarter of it.
And real estate isn’t even his day job. Hannay is the founder and CEO of Slingshot LLC, a Dallas-based ad agency. He got into that business by happenstance.