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FORT WORTH-A week-old real estate firm has cut its first deal by hiring veteran Richard E. “Rick” Hopwood, who exits NAI Stoneleigh Huff Brous McDowell in Fort Worth at week’s end to take his seat Monday as senior vice president and partner for Red Oak Realty.

Red Oak’s president James M. Eagle last week said the signing was close, but couldn’t release the details until the deal was done. Hopwood, a 25-year professional, has spent the last two years as senior director for NAI Stoneleigh Huff Brous McDowell and SVP for Huff Brous McDowell Management Inc., also in Fort Worth. Prior to that, Hopwood was a leading exec for 12 years at Dallas-based Prentiss Properties Ltd. Inc. His career started in Houston as an assistant VP and loan officer in the real estate department of National Bank of Commerce.

Sam Brous, principal, tells GlobeSt.com that there are no replacement plans at present although the firm has just hired two brokers for its ranks. “Rick is a great guy and we’re going to miss him,” Brous says. “He’s done a great job in the brokerage end and in his supporting role on the management side.” Hopwood was ranked in Top 10 producers in 2002 while overseeing four million sf of property for the management company.

Hopwood says the opportunity to start out as a partner and invest in the operation were the convincing factors that ended several months of talks between him and Eagle. “He was very persistent,” Hopwood says. Equally convincing was the chance to manage properties, acquire and develop simultaneously, which will have him wearing three hats instead of two as he sets out on the new venture.

Red Oak Realty has the financial backing of Fort Worth’s Darden family, a private investment group diversifying natural gas and crude oil holdings into commercial real estate. In fact, Red Oak’s office will be located in one of the family’s holdings, Water Gardens Place at 100 E. 15th St. in Fort Worth.

“We’re going to work hard and have fun,” Hopwood says of a teaming with his longtime friend. The duo, whose skills are a good complement, intend to keep the shop at two for awhile as they build the business, boosting occupancy in the 60%-leased, 86,000-sf Water Gardens Place and advancing the development plan for Magnolia Greens, which at 12 acres is the largest undeveloped infill site in Fort Worth’s hospital district. The site is being groomed for 300,000 sf of retail, office and residential. Hopwood will handle development project management, oversee the property management company, leasing and assist Eagle with acquisitions.

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