Craig Hall (of HALL Park in Frisco) loves art for the way it makes him feel. Nothing else really matters. “Some art makes me smile, some makes me think, some just makes me feel good,” Craig says.
Craig is chairman and founder of Hall Financial Group, a company he founded at age 17. By 21 he was a millionaire, and by 35 he had amassed over $4 billion in real estate and oil and gas interests.
Today, Hall’s Dallas portfolio includes HALL Structured Finance and three real estate developments: HALL Arts in the Dallas Arts District, HALL Park in Frisco, and HALL Park Richardson, a mixed-use project planned for 30 acres on the Bush Turnpike and Custer Parkway.
Craig also owns two wine brands—HALL Wines in Napa and WALT Wines in Sonoma— and SENZA Hotel in Napa. He was also one of the largest investors in American Airlines.
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His passion, however, is art.
“My mother was an artist as well as an art teacher,” Craig says. “Most kids have coloring books and they think you’re supposed to color inside the lines. My mother taught us that you should color inside your own lines, not the ones someone else drew.
When most kids were buying clothes and cars, Craig was spending his money on posters of famous artwork. He funded his purchases through odd jobs and little businesses: paper routes, washing pots, door-to-door sales—even a brief stint as a night watchman. “I was fortunate not to have had the distraction of rich parents,” he laughs.
“Eventually [you start buying] oil paintings and other art. Then you’re hooked for life,” he jokes.
Craig doesn’t know how many works of art he now owns. There are between 150 and 200 at HALL Park alone.
Craig purchased the land for HALL Park in the late ‘80s. At the time, Frisco had a population of just 6,000; the area was nothing but farmland. “I thought it would have growth and be a good investment,” he says.
“We had a grand opening party and six or seven people showed up. You had to have 4-wheel drive because there were pretty big holes in the dirt road. But, six or eight months later it was 100 percent full,” Craig says.
Almost 20 years later, the project is a bustling economic hub—and a destination for the arts.
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“I started putting art in HALL Park because I just thought it would be nice, but I’ve come to believe it’s also good for business,” Craig says. “It makes people enjoy the space better. It’s a physical difference that enhances the life of the customer and the employee.”
The Texas Sculpture Garden—the largest private collection of contemporary Texas sculpture ever assembled and made available to the public—can be found within the lobby of 6801 Gaylord Parkway at HALL Park, as well as in the garden immediately outside the building.
“It’s our effort to showcase a variety of Texas artists that have their own unique ways of showing today’s world. We’re very proud of it,” he says.
Craig is reluctant to reveal any favorites. “They’re like children; you never can have any one piece that you single out.” Nevertheless, as we take a quick stroll through the lobby we share a laugh over a man jutting horizontally out of the wall, Figure Aloft by James Sullivan, and Craig gives an affectionate pat to a wooden carving, Panther by Isaac Smith.
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Elsewhere in HALL Park, there are over 150 other sculptures. Separate from the Texas Sculpture Garden, these are by artists from across the world. In the pond outside of 2601 Network Boulevard, Alligator by Robert Tabak lurks in the shallows and 11 metallic stick figures, Moondancers by Jerry Daniel, prance across the water. Meanwhile, Internet Boulevard is home to Roadrunner with Lizard and Horned Toad, both by Joe Barrington; Lightning Ball by Linda Fleming; six giant red roses, Tar Roses by Dennis Openheim; Blue Strake by Michelle O’Micheal; and many more.
Craig is in the process of completely reimagining the development. “We’ll be adding to the property significantly,” he says.
Plans include: adding at least 20 new buildings; formalizing the parks and green space; adding restaurants, retail and residential; and, possibly, a performing arts center.
“We’re working with Frisco Mayor Cheney and others to figure out how to finance and build a performing arts center within HALL Park that we would donate [to the community],” Craig says.
“Having a performing arts center makes a big difference in attracting big corporations. They’re gonna say, ‘Great, you have sports, now where are the arts? The culture? Where do you have performances and where are your museums?’ Those things have to come.”
Craig believes the addition of an arts center in Frisco would have a positive impact on the entire Metroplex. “If Frisco had the right hall you could have certain types of performances that would come to Dallas for a day or two, then come to Frisco and then go to Fort Worth.”
Whether it’s a giant metallic fish with a house in its jaws—The Headlines Screamed Baithouse Disappears by Joe Barrington at HALL Park—or the latest Broadway hit, Craig Hall wants everyone to have the opportunity to see it.
“Art makes us feel something in our soul; it enhances our life experience,” he says.
6801 Gaylord Pkwy #100, Frisco TX75034
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Story originally published in the December 2017 issue of Plano Profile.