In recent years there has been a proliferation of former professional athletes — particularly Dallas Cowboys — getting involved in retail real estate. Now, you can add former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin to the list. Irvin held court at the Tetra Companies' booth in the South Hall where he discussed the founding of TMI Group, which hopes to raise $45 million to complete $180 million in mixed-use developments in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, primarily in in-fill markets starting with Irvin's home town of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Irvin says that when he took his sons to see his hometown they couldn't believe that was where he was from and immediately he was struck with a desire to revitalize the neighborhood where he grew up. “It hit me that I had been doing everything I had been doing in my career, but I hadn't looked at what I'd left behind,” Irvin says. “I had left a lot of people in that area and realized I had an opportunity to revitalize it.”

The projects TMI Group will pursue will be small mixed-use developments combining affordable condominiums with service retail and other assorted uses depending on the market ranging from hotels to seniors housing to single-family homes.

Besides Irvin, other former Dallas Cowboys now involved in the commercial real estate industry include Keyshawn Johnson, Roger Staubach, Emmit Smith and Troy Aikman. Like Irvin, Johnson, Smith and Aikman are all involved in development. Staubach, of course, is the founder of full-service brokerage firm Staubach Co.