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MetLife Provides $161.5M in Financing for Houston Office Tower; Noble Energy Center One Changes Hands

26 Nov 2013, 4:47 am

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

MetLife Inc. has provided $161.5 million in financing to CBRE Strategic Partners U.S. Value 6, a fund sponsored by CBRE Global Investors that has acquired Marathon Oil Tower in Houston.

“We are continually expanding our portfolio in Texas, which is a key market for us,” said Robert Merck, senior managing director & head of real estate investments for MetLife, in a written statement. “We are excited to work with CBRE Investors and include Marathon Oil Tower, a premier property, in our ever-growing portfolio.”

Located in the Tanglewood / San Felipe submarket of the Galleria shopping and business district, the 41-story landmark tower features 1.2 million square feet of premier office space. Amenities include on-site property management, 24-hour security, full-service on-site dining facilities, 24,000 square feet of conference facilities and an attached card-accessed parking garage containing three levels below ground and 10 stories above ground. The Class A-plus property has obtained LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

In other investment news, Cole Corporate Income Trust Inc. acquired Noble Energy Center One, a 10-story, Class A office building in Northwest Houston, from a joint venture between Trammell Crow Co. and Principal Real Estate Investors. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Sitting on a 3.5-acre tract at Louetta Road and State Highway 249, the 497,000-square-foot tower features exclusive amenities, including a café, dining area and coffee bar; a fitness center; outdoor dining and meeting areas; and a state-of-the-art conference center.

The property underwent a major renovation, earlier reported  by Commercial Property Executive, which included modifications to lobbies, elevators, landscaping, common areas, signage and other aspects of the building and parking garage. The project has achieved LEED Gold certification.

In January 2012, Noble Energy inked a long-term agreement to establish its global corporate headquarters in the building. The Noble Energy campus is expected to office more than 1,600 employees by 2015.

Photo credits: Marathon Oil Tower

Cassidy Turley to Lead Leasing Efforts for Allen Center; Renovations Kick off at Hines’ 600 Travis Sky Lobby

18 Nov 2013, 9:54 pm

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

Brookfield Office Properties has tapped Cassidy Turley to provide project leasing services for Allen Center, a 3.1 million-square-foot, multi-building, Class A office complex in downtown Houston.

“We could not be more excited to get started and work with the Brookfield team to expand the roster of exceptional tenants at Allen Center,” said John Pruitt, the Cassidy Turley executive managing director who will handle leasing for Allen Center, along with managing director Eric Siegrist and senior vice president Jessica Ochoa. “Providing project leasing services for a true trophy asset in a thriving market like Houston is an extraordinary opportunity.”

With an address of 1200 Smith St. in Houston’s CBD, Allen Center consists of three office buildings: One Allen Center, a 34-story, 993,000-square-foot outfit located at 500 Dallas St.; Two Allen Center, a 36-story building featuring 996,000 square feet at 1200 Smith St.; and Three Allen Center, a 50-story high-rise totaling 1.2 million square feet at 333 Clay St.

With Allen Parkway as its western gateway, Allen Center offers direct access to the freeway system and panoramic views of the beautifully landscaped environs. Additionally, the property features premier amenities including an on-site food court, numerous tenant support services, a large central courtyard and a connection to Houston’s downtown tunnel system.

“We look forward to collaborating with Cassidy Turley’s team on leasing efforts for Allen Center,” commented Clint Bawcom, vice president of leasing for Brookfield, Houston’s largest CBD office owner. “Brookfield will continue to lease the remainder of its 8 million-square-foot Houston CBD portfolio, while Cassidy Turley concentrates on this landmark asset.”

The master-planned development is the largest new leasing assignment awarded this year to Cassidy Turley’s Texas division.

Meanwhile, the Houston office of Hines, along with partner and building owner Prime Asset Management, has kicked off renovations of the two-story sky lobby at 600 Travis (formerly JPMorgan Chase Tower), also downtown.

Designed by Gensler, the new space will showcase new museum-quality wood flooring instead of carpet, a new ceiling with more design and lighting features, added seating and new video displays. Offering the highest public view of Houston from the sky lobby’s 60th floor, the observation deck is currently closed for overhauling and is expected to reopen in early 2014.

Developed by Hines in 1982, the 75-story tower is Texas’ tallest office building. The property features 1.7 million square feet of office space and is currently 91 percent occupied, according to company statements.

New Class A Office Building Tops Out at BriarLake Campus

12 Nov 2013, 6:40 am

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

Dallas-based TIER REIT announced the topping out of Two BriarLake Plaza, a 12-story, 332,000-square-foot office tower in the heart of Houston’s Westchase District.

Located at 2050 West Sam Houston Parkway and Briar Forest Drive, Two Briarlake Plaza broke ground in late 2012 and is on track for delivery in April 2014.

The property will be anchored by Samsung Engineering America, which has pre-leased 50 percent of the Class A property for its North American headquarters.

“With its distinctive architecture, amenities and prime location, Two BriarLake Plaza will be a landmark Class A-plus building in the Westchase/Energy Corridor office market,” said John Pruitt, executive managing director, who, along with senior vice president Jessica Ochoa, handles leasing services for the building.

Designed to achieve LEED Silver certification as well as an ENERGY STAR rating, the tower will offer a bistro-style café on site, a fitness center equipped with showers and locker rooms and a first-class conference center that can accommodate as many as 150 people.

The design and construction team for Two BriarLake Plaza includes general contractor Harvey Builders; Kirksey Architecture; structural engineer Haynes Whaley Associates Inc.; mechanical, electrical and plumbing firm Wylie Consulting Engineers; and civil engineer Brown & Gay Engineers Inc.

Behringer Harvard will provide on-site property management services.

With the completion of Two BriarLake, the campus will feature 830,000 square feet of premier office space in one of Houston’s top business districts. Behringer Harvard REIT I Inc. acquired the neighboring One BriarLake Plaza in September 2008. Built in 2000 to the highest Class A-plus standards, One BriarLake is LEED Gold certified and received the Energy Star Award in 2004.

Meanwhile, Chicago-based Brennan Investment Group L.L.C. purchased an 11-acre tract near the intersection of 1-45 and FM-1960 in the North submarket for its second speculative development project in Houston.

Plans call for three office warehouse buildings totaling 110,000 square feet. Designed to serve the significant demand for manufacturing, assembly and distribution uses, the properties also offer ample yard area for outside storage.

“We made a strategic decision to allocate a significant portion of our capital to the ‘Texas Triangle,’ cities and Houston in particular,” said Michael Brennan, chairman & co-founder of Brennan Investment Group. “The economic vitality of the Texas economy seems poised to outperform many other regions of the U.S., and the benefits to the industrial real estate market are manifested in 16 consecutive quarters of positive absorption and a 92.5 percent occupancy rate.”

Photo credits: BriarLake Plaza

390-Unit Luxury M-F Property Breaks Ground at New M-U Development in The Woodlands

5 Nov 2013, 5:37 am

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

The Howard Hughes Corp. and its wholly-owned subsidiary The Woodlands Development Co. have broken ground on a 390-unit multi-family project situated in the new 66-acre mixed-use development of Hughes Landing.

Dubbed One Lake’s Edge, the luxury multi-housing development boasts a location on the 200-acre Lake Woodlands, within close proximity to the shopping, dining and entertainment venues at Hughes Landing’s Restaurant Row.

“These luxury apartment homes help fulfill our vision for Hughes Landing to be a vibrant waterfront community within The Woodlands – an exciting hub where people can live, work and play,” said Paul Layne, executive vice president of master-planned communities for Howard Hughes. “We are extremely encouraged by the interest and excitement surrounding the project, from the pace of leasing of the first office building, One Hughes Landing, in only 10 months, along with several new eateries, including Escalante’s Fine Tex-Mex & Tequila and Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar, that will soon be underway.”

Designed by Houston–based Ziegler Cooper, One Lake’s Edge will offer a mix of one-, one-plus-study, two- and three-bedroom floor plans with panoramic views of the lake and an average unit size of 984 square feet. Interior finishes include wood floors, stainless steel gas appliances, granite countertops, roller shades and Nest “learning” thermostats.

Amenities include a state-of-the-art fitness center, oversize pool deck, show kitchen and large club room with elevated outdoor patio overlooking the lake, along with more than 22,000 square feet of retail planned for the ground floor. Additionally, the community will feature a pet-friendly environment with an on-site wash station, as well as kayak and bike storage and covered apartment-level parking.

Pre-leasing is expected to start in the fall of 2014, with occupancy anticipated to begin in early 2015.

The general contractor for One Lake’s Edge is HOAR Construction, based in Houston. At 825,000 square feet, the eight-story complex will be the third-largest building in the Woodlands.

At full build-out, Hughes Landing will feature as many as 11 office buildings; shopping, dining and entertainment; a specialty grocer; an upscale hotel; a fitness center; and as many as 800 multi-family residences.

Photo credits: A rendering of the One Lake’s Edge multi-family residences on the left and Restaurant Row at Hughes Landing on Lake Woodlands on the right via The Woodlands Development Co.

Marathon Oil Tower Changes Hands; First Building Complete in Noble Energy Campus

27 Oct 2013, 5:24 am

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

Greenwich, Conn.-based Hanover Real Estate Partners completed the sale of Marathon Oil Tower, one of Houston’ most iconic office buildings, to CBRE Strategic Partners U.S. Value 6, a fund sponsored by CBRE Global Investors. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Located at 5555 San Felipe, on the western edge of the Galleria business district, the 41-story, Class A-plus building features 1.2 million square feet of premier office space, above-standard finishes and an attached granite-clad, 13-level parking garage. Amenities include on-site property management, 24-hour security, full-service on-site dining facilities, and 24,000 square feet of conference facilities.

The property is situated in close proximity to the prestigious Tanglewood neighborhood and the Post Oak Boulevard corridor, and offers convenient access to the 610 West Loop.

Since 2003, when it took over responsibility for the management and oversight of the property from Lehman Brothers Inc., Hanover has completed several improvements to the tower, including renovation of the lobbies, upgrading of the outfit’s mechanical systems, as well as significant structural improvements. The highly efficient tower is LEED Silver certified.

The Marathon Oil Co., which occupies approximately 650,000 rentable square feet or 60 percent of the total building, is joined by other notable tenants, including Aon Corp., Kanaly Trust Co. and Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations Inc.

Meanwhile, Trammell Crow Co. and joint venture partner Principal Real Estate Investors announced the completion and opening of Noble Energy Center One, a 10-story, 497,000-square-foot office building in Houston’s Northwest office submarket.

Located at 1001 Noble Energy Way, Noble Energy Center One boasts exclusive amenities, including a café, dining area and coffee bar; a fitness center; outdoor dining and meeting areas; and a state-of-the-art conference center.

The property underwent a major renovation project that included modifications to lobbies, elevators, landscaping, common areas, signage as well as several green enhancements. The property was awarded LEED Gold certification for integrating such features as low-flow plumbing fixtures, a water-efficient irrigation system and energy-efficient lighting. More than 75 percent of construction waste was recycled, salvaged or reused.

Additionally, the joint venture broke ground on Noble Energy Center Two, a 20-story, 470,000-square-foot office build-to-suit on a 4.7 acre adjacent tract. The building is pre-certified LEED Gold and is pursuing Energy Star certification, according to company statements. Like the first building, Center Two will serve as global headquarters for Noble Energy, an independent energy company engaged in worldwide oil and gas exploration and production.

Photo credits: Marathon Oil Tower official website

Lionstone Group Grabs Landmark Office Tower in Houston’s CBD

22 Oct 2013, 3:26 am

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

The Lionstone Group completed the acquisition of 712 Main St. in Houston’s CBD, in a deal that marks the first time the landmark property has been offered for sale on an individual basis since its construction in 1929.

HFF, led by Dan Miller and Trent Agnew, marketed the property on behalf of the seller, Brookfield Asset Management Inc. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Developed by Jesse H. Jones, the signature office tower was originally built for Gulf Oil and the National Bank of Commerce. It then underwent two major expansion projects, in 1948 and 1950, which brought it to its current size of 794,186 square feet.

Located along Main Street, on the Downtown Houston Tunnel System, the 37-story Art Deco skyscraper has been designated a city of Houston landmark and a National Civil Engineering landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Anchored by JPMorgan Chase’s southwest banking operations, 712 Main is currently leased to 43 tenants. Occupancy was set at 85 percent at the time of closing.

“Interest in the property was strong due to the quality of the asset and the stable and predictable cash flow via JPMorgan Chase’s lease through 2030,” said HFF’s Dan Miller in a statement. Transwestern was retained by Lionstone to handle management and leasing for the property.

The building boasts exclusive design features, including eight frescoes that depict Texas history, stained glass windows, gothic ornamentation and French marble. Additionally, the tower hosts a 15,000-square-foot Chase retail banking center on the ground floor, as well as a convenience store and a tenant conference center. Amenities include garage parking accessibility, on-site management and leasing, 24-hour courtesy officers, proximity to the North and East rail lines and two connections to Houston’s underground tunnel system of shops and restaurants.

Meanwhile, in multi-family news, the South Florida Business Journal reports that Ytech International, a nationwide multifamily investment and development company, acquired a 1,312-unit portfolio including five Houston developments, for $35 million. The seller was LB-RPR I Asset Holdings LLC, a Delaware LLC and joint-venture hedge fund of Baupost Group LLC, and The Lynd Co., a nationwide buyer of commercial and residential property.

Photo credits: i_am_jim via Wikimedia Commons

Statoil to Double Footprint at CityWestPlace, Expand Lease to 581,000 SF

14 Oct 2013, 12:12 am

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

Statoil Gulf Services L.L.C., the U.S. upstream wholly owned subsidiary of Norwegian energy titan Statoil ASA, entered into a long-term agreement to expand and extend its lease at CityWestPlace, which serves as the company’s North American headquarters.

Owned by Thomas Properties Group Inc., CityWestPlace is a 30-acre, master-planned Class A office complex in Houston’s Westchase District featuring 1.46 million square feet of office space, parking and amenities.

The four office buildings within the complex range from six to 21 stories and are either LEED certified or pending, as part of TPGI’s award-winning sustainability program. Amenities include three full-service restaurants, an auditorium and numerous conference facilities, two fitness centers with full locker rooms, a basketball court, an athletic field, a sand volleyball court, a running track, a bocce court, a hair salon, an auto repair and detailing center, an amphitheater and grab-and-drop bicycles.

Beginning with initial occupancy in mid-2015, Statoil will eventually occupy the entirety of Building 2, comprising 431,000 square feet, as well as extend its existing lease for 150,000 square feet in Building 4, bringing the company’s total square footage in CityWestPlace to 581,000 square feet.

“The new Statoil lease at CityWestPlace fully addresses the December 2014 lease expiration and expected departure of Halliburton Energy Services well over a year in advance, which is a testimony to the continued strength of this market and the appeal of the CityWestPlace campus to multinational corporate tenants,” said Jim Thomas, Thomas Properties’ chairman, president & CEO. “We are delighted to have recently consolidated our ownership in this unique project to 100 percent and to welcome the expanded relationship with such an outstanding global firm as Statoil.”

Designed by two world-renowned architectural design firms — Keating Mann Jerrigan Rottet and Daniel Mann Johnson & Mendenhall — CityWestPlace was developed in phases between 1993 and 2001 as the Texas headquarters of BMC Software Inc. BMC continues to occupy approximately 550,000 square feet in Buildings 1, 2 and 4 of the campus. Other major tenants include Ion Geophysical, Bristow Group and Spark Energy.

Located on Sam Houston Beltway 8, just north of Westheimer Road, the high-profile complex offers convenient access to the region’s popular residential areas; Houston’s major transportation corridors including the Sam Houston Tollway, Interstate 10 and U.S. Highway 59; and both the George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby airports.

Chip Colvill, Clark Thompson, Win Haggard Jr. and Michael Anderson with Colvill Office Properties represented Thomas Properties in the lease negotiations, according to company statements. Mark O’Donnell of Studley Inc., Houston represented Statoil.

Photo credits: CityWestPlace official Web site

Skanska Sells 3009 Post Oak for $112M; MIG Grabs 240-Unit Woodlands M-F Community

3 Oct 2013, 5:55 pm

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

Skanska USA, one of the leading development and construction companies in the country, announced plans to sell its recently completed office tower in Houston. The buyer, Post Oak Building L.L.C., agreed to pay $112 million for the property. The transaction will be recorded and settled in the third quarter of 2013, as per company statements.

3009 Post Oak Bovd. is a 302,000-square-foot, 20-story, Class A office building strategically located on Post Oak Boulevard, at the intersection of Hidalgo and 610 West Loop in the Uptown/Galleria submarket.

The tower has been pre-certified LEED Platinum and offers premier amenities, including a conference facility, food service, 24/7 security, card-key access, a reception desk with an electronic directory, as well as exclusive design features.

The green enhancements include a highly efficient glass façade; energy recovery wheel and occupancy monitoring systems that focus on maximizing energy efficiency and operational savings; a sophisticated lighting control system for the office and garage areas; and a rainwater collection system used for landscape irrigation.

Meanwhile, in multi-family news, Newport Beach, Calif.-based MIG Real Estate has completed the acquisition of Pine Creek Ranch, a 240-unit apartment community in The Woodlands.

Located at 3600 College Park Drive, the 12-acre property features one-, two- and three-bedroom units. The apartment homes have fully equipped kitchens, full-size washers and dryers, private patios, balconies or sunrooms, as well as oversize closets and bedrooms. Community amenities include a Wi-Fi equipped clubhouse, swimming pool with beach entry, air conditioned basketball half-court, fitness center, barbecue area, billiards room, theater and business center.

Pine Creek Ranch sits within walking distance of various neighborhood retail outlets, including Starbucks and Chase Bank, and less than five miles from Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, the upscale Market Street and regional retail centers such as Pinecroft Center and The Woodlands Mall.

MIG selected Greystar, a national operator with a significant presence in the Houston market, to handle property management for Pine Creek.

This acquisition marks the company’s third investment in Texas multifamily properties, following its investment in The Cottages in Austin in 2012 and Wynhaven at Willowbrook in Houston in 2012.

Rendering of 3009 Post Oak Blvd. via official website

Howard Hughes Corp. Launches First Office Building at New M-U Development in The Woodlands

26 Sep 2013, 4:53 am

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

The Howard Hughes Corp. and its wholly owned subsidiary, The Woodlands Development Co., marked a major milestone with the completion of One Hughes Landing, the first office building in the 66-acre, mixed-use Hughes Landing development, situated on the 200-acre Lake Woodlands.

Designed to meet LEED Silver certification standards, the 197,719-square-foot, eight-story, Class A office building is currently 92 percent leased. Tenants include Strike L.L.C. (70,190 square feet), Layne Christensen Co. (51,152 square feet), PetroQuest Energy Inc. (13,091 square feet), Summit Midstream (12,524 square feet), Sterling Construction (12,340 square feet), Wells Fargo Bank (8,316 square feet), GMA Garnet (4,736 square feet) and Post Oak Bank (4,355 square feet).

Determined to capitalize on the strong demand for commercial space in The Woodlands, the company has kicked off construction of Two Hughes Landing. Set to be completed in mid-2014, the eight-story property will feature 197,719 square feet of office space and seeks LEED Silver certification.

On the retail front, Escalante’s Fine Tex-Mex & Tequila restaurant signed a 5,600-square-foot lease on Restaurant Row in Hughes Landing. The outfit is anticipated to open in late 2014. Additionally, The Woodlands announced that Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar signed an 8,000-square-foot lease, which will mark the restaurant’s debut in the Houston market, with an anticipated opening in spring 2015.

At full build-out, Hughes Landing is expected to house as many as 11 office buildings; shopping, dining and entertainment; a specialty grocer; an upscale hotel; a fitness center; and as many as 800 multi-family residences.

“Our vision for Hughes Landing is to create a vibrant waterfront community within The Woodlands, which will be an exciting hub where people can live, work and play,” said David Weinreb, CEO of The Howard Hughes Corp. “One Hughes Landing is the first step in our long-term plan for Hughes Landing to become one of the premier destinations within this world-class master-planned community.”

The Woodlands Development Co. is being represented by Robert Parsley and Norman Munoz of Colliers International for the leasing of office space in Hughes Landing. Rip Reynolds, senior leasing manager for Howard Hughes, is representing The Woodlands for the leasing of retail and restaurant space, according to company statements.

Photo credits: The Howard Hughes Corporation via Business Wire

HFF Secures $188.8M Financing for Post Oak Central

20 Sep 2013, 3:37 pm

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

Commercial real estate and capital markets service provider HFF has secured $188.8 million in financing for Post Oak Central, a three-building office, retail and parking complex in Houston’s Galleria area.

Working exclusively on behalf of Atlanta-based Cousins Properties Inc., HFF placed the seven-year, non-recourse, fixed-rate mortgage loan with TIAA-CREF, according to company statements. The property was previously unencumbered with debt.

The HFF team representing Cousins was led by executive managing director Scott Galloway and director Colby Mueck.

Located at 1980-2000 Post Oak Blvd., Post Oak Central is close to the Galleria Mall, Loop 610 and Interstate 10 in Houston’s Galleria/West Loop submarket.

Totaling a combined 1.2 million square feet of office space, the Class A complex includes One Post Oak Central, completed in 1975; Two Post Oak Central, completed in 1979; and Three Post Oak Central, completed in 1981. Additionally, the 17-acre business complex includes 86,046 square feet of retail space and 4,418 parking spaces.

With panoramic views of the downtown, Galleria, Memorial and Tanglewood neighborhoods, the LEED Gold-certified Post Oak Central features premier amenities including 24-hour monitored security, on-site management and engineering, a child-care center, a conference center, a 20,000-square-foot health club, 3.5 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet, and dry cleaning and banking facilities.

The property is currently 95.6 percent leased. Tenants include Apache Corp., Stewart Information Systems and GDF Suez North America.

Cousins is a fully integrated, self-administered and self-managed real estate investment trust primarily focused on Class A office and retail projects in high-growth Sunbelt markets, particularly Georgia, Texas and North Carolina.

Photo credits: Post Oak Central

Affordable Housing Community for Veterans Opens

30 Aug 2013, 5:00 pm

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

Public officials and non-profit groups marked a milestone in the effort to end homelessness among Houston-area veterans with the recent opening of Travis Street Plaza, a $19 million permanent housing community for very low-income, homeless, and disabled veterans. Cloudbreak Houston, an affiliate of Cantwell-Anderson Inc., developed the project.

Located at 4500 Travis St., Travis Street Plaza  comprises 188 efficiency and 4 one- bedroom units primarily for individuals earning at or below 60 percent of area median income. Some units are reserved for residents earning at or below 30 percent of AMI. Community amenities include perimeter fencing, controlled access, laundry rooms, covered pavilion with barbecue grills and tables, fitness center, community room and 87 covered parking spaces.

Travis Street Plaza joins Midtown Terrace, a 286-unit facility on the campus, which provides residential treatment and transitional housing for Houston area veterans. Residents have access to a wide range of services, including mental health counseling, medical care, job training, benefits counseling and rehabilitation, from a variety of government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker, city officials, and representatives of Cantwell-Andersen, Inc./Cloudbreak Houston, National Equity Fund, Inc., Amegy Bank, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Houston and Harris County housing officials and residents participated in the event.

“Travis Street Plaza is a great example of how the private and public sectors can work together to offer our veterans—heroes who risked their lives to protect us—a safe and affordable place to call home with access to services that can help lead to self-sufficiency,” Parker said.

National Equity Fund provided $11.1 million through low-income housing tax credits, Amegy Bank and FHLB Dallas provided a $500,000 Affordable Housing Program grant. The ciity of Houston, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, New Man L.L.C., and Cantwell-Anderson, Inc., also contributed funding.

Cloudbreak companies have completed nearly 1,800 units in five states. Another 700-plus units are in the pipeline, according to the company.

Photo: National Equity Fund

CDC to Kick Off Phase One of Multi-Billion-Dollar Community in Houston

19 Aug 2013, 3:58 pm

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

CDC Houston Inc., a subsidiary of Coventry Development Corp. of New York, unveiled plans for phase one of Springwoods Village, a $10 billion, 1,800-acre mixed-use community in Spring, just south of The Woodlands and 20 miles north of downtown Houston.

Springwoods Village Town Center will include approximately 250 luxury apartment homes; a full-service hotel; office space in a variety of configurations; and as much as 100,000 square feet of retail space. Construction is slated to begin in early 2014. Development partners include Fein, Woodbine Development Corp. and the Patrinely Group L.L.C.

The Town Center was designed as a fully integrated mixed-use environment and incorporates a variety of sustainability features and green practices, including use of eco-friendly materials; preservation of natural ecosystems; building energy-smart new homes; and providing a walkable mix of retail, dining, offices and public amenities in an effort to reduce residents’ dependence on cars.

“Town Center will be the heart and soul of Springwoods Village because it will be where people go to eat, play, meet and relax,” said Keith Simon, executive vice president of CDC, in a statement. “We will create a space that invites people to enjoy the beautiful Town Lake and plaza, whether they are taking a lunch break, dining out for dinner or shopping.”

CDC Houston will join forces with Patrinely Group and USAA Real Estate Co. to develop a series of Class A office buildings.

All of the office buildings that front Lake Plaza Drive and Main Street will incorporate retail into the ground floors and will potentially total more than 1 million square feet of space.

Fein plans to break ground on a 250-unit high-end apartment complex with ground-floor retail along Lake Plaza Drive. Construction is expected to begin early in 2014. Fein is currently working on another apartment property in Springwoods Village, the 342-unit Belvedere on Holzwarth Road.

Woodbine Development will undertake construction of a full-service hotel with significant meeting/event space on Town Lake, along the southern edge of the Town Center plaza. The hotel brand will be announced late in 2013.

Construction is currently underway on Southwestern Energy’s new headquarters. To be located on a 25.6-acre tract along the eastern edge of Town Lake, the new building will house more than 1,000 employees currently working at five separate locations. Patrinely expects to complete construction of the 515,000-square-foot facility in late 2014.

Rendering via Springwoods Village Facebook page

Battle of the Giants: Hines, Chevron Supersize Upcoming Skyscrapers

26 Jul 2013, 7:18 am

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

hines' 609 main at texas

Initial rendering, 609 Main at Texas

Houston’s commercial market is in the spotlight again, with two major developers looking to deliver the city’s next great skyscraper.

Local developer Hines—which already holds the record for building Texas’ tallest office tower—was planning a major 41-story tower project at 609 Main St.; but according to recent news, Hines will be supersizing the plan to accommodate the growing number of energy firms that are looking to expand in the downtown area.

While initial plans called for 815,000 square feet of office space, Hines told CultureMap that the project, dubbed “609 Main at Texas,” will be much bigger (and taller) than previously thought, but no official numbers have been released. Working with architectural firm Pickard Chilton for the design of the building, Hines said it will reveal the final height and size of the building in fourth quarter 2013.

So far, we know that the Class A, next-generation office tower will be clad in a high-performance enclosure with low-E floor-to-ceiling glass. Initial plans called for efficient and flexible 27,500-square-feet floor plates that have been designed in order to accommodate a wide variety of uses.

Hines' 609 Main at Texas

609 Main at Texas, rendering via Pickard Chilton

The sustainable building will include under-floor HVAC, “smart” elevators and a sophisticated safety system. The podium will conceal parking for 1,200 cars and will feature an expansive urban roof garden. Plans for the lobby include a modern café and a digital working bar, while the amenity list includes a fine-dining restaurant and a fitness center with associated facilities.

Yet Hines’ next-generation office tower will have to face some competition: Chevron is looking to add a 1.7 million-square-foot tower right next to its two existing buildings in the Central Business District. Located at 1600 Louisiana St., the state-of-the-art, 50-story skyscraper will help Chevron make room for an additional 1,752 workers. The new Chevron tower will be bigger than the existing 1.3 million- and 1.2 million-square-foot buildings at 1500 Louisiana and 1400 Smith owned by the energy giant.

Images via Pickard Chilton

Johnson Development Emerges as Buyer of 2,100-Acre Camp Strake Property

22 Jul 2013, 1:58 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

It’s official: Johnson Development Corp. has been chosen as the buyer of the 2,100-acre Camp Strake property, one of the largest contiguous land parcels currently available in the Houston metropolitan area.

The Sam Houston Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America said that the company already has the property under contract, and the deal is expected to close by the end of the year. Johnson Development is currently managing the construction of 10 Houston-area master-planned communities; it has not yet released any information regarding its further plans for the site.

Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. was hired to market the property in March, when the Sam Houston Area Council first made public its plan to sell the property. At the time, JLL’s Houston market director, Dan Bellow, declared that “Camp Strake is truly one of Houston’s treasures, but the time is right to create a new gem for this city. Between the Exxon Mobil Corporate Campus opening next year with more than 14,000 employees and the Town Center in The Woodlands with approximately 50,000 jobs currently in place and the potential for another 25,000, the north Conroe area is one of the top growth areas in the entire state of Texas.  Amazing things are happening here.”

The development site, located on the southwest corner of Interstate 45 North and Loop 336, features more than two miles of commercial frontage, secluded residential areas and natural amenities suitable for recreation, parks, hiking trials, bike trails and environmental mitigation. The massive site presents no specific zoning requirements and will be annexed by the city of Conroe, whose mayor, Webb Melder, has declared himself in favor of future on-site development, offering potential new owners/developers full support. Located just north of The Woodlands, the property is less than 10 miles north of the new ExxonMobil Corporate Campus currently under construction.

The Camp Strake property served as the flagship camp for the nation’s largest Boy Scout Council for more than 70 years. It was named in honor of Susan and George Strake Sr., who provided the funds to purchase the camp property in 1943. Camp Strake will move to a rural site between New Waverly and Cold Springs in 2015 in order to create a 21st century scouting experience for Scouts and their leaders, according to Tom Varnell, president & Scout executive of the Sam Houston Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Clear Lake Regional Medical to Offer Enhanced Care after $92M Expansion

9 Jul 2013, 8:06 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

Clear Lake Regional Medical CenterLooking to better serve the Bay Area Houston community, Clear Lake Regional Medical Center has invested $92 million in a comprehensive expansion that included the addition of a new patient tower.

An official grand opening event was held on June 17, during which members of the community were given tours of the entire facility. The event also included proclamations from the city of Webster, presented by the Hon. Mayor Floyd H. Myers, as well as from the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, presented by Chairman of the Board Mike Furin and President Cindy Herrald.

The tower boasts 155,000 square feet of new construction and 90,000 square feet of renovations. Added to the west side of the existing hospital, the tower includes a 16-bed observation unit on the first floor, surgical suites on the second and an intensive-care unit on the third. The new tower was designed to feature an expansive main lobby, a spacious outpatient waiting area and separate surgery and ICU waiting areas.

The existing facility will now provide new Caesarean suites, remodeled patient rooms, an all-new labor and delivery unit, as well as a new antepartum unit. The architectural firm of Perkins+Will designed the renovation.

“The nearly $150 million the hospital has invested in capital in the Bay Area in the last six years has made a significant impact on our local economy,” said Bob Mitchell, President of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership. “Because of their Heart and Vascular Hospital and now this $92 million expansion, healthcare – and specifically Clear Lake Regional Medical Center – is a pillar in our community.”

The hospital, which opened in 1972, is the largest in the Southeast Houston region and was recently named “Best Hospital in the Bay Area.” CLRMC currently employs approximately 2,000 staff and is served by about 900 physicians in multiple specialties.

Image: Clear Lake Regional Medical Center via Facebook

Houston Takes Third Place Among Forbes’ Top Development Markets

28 Jun 2013, 5:23 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate EditorHouston buildings at night time

In a ranking of the nation’s most active top construction markets by Forbes, Houston landed in third place, trailing only New York and Dallas.Through May, the Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land metropolitan statistical area registered $4.8 billion in construction starts, a 23 percent increase since 2011.

McGraw-Hill Construction created the list by analyzing building data for the nation’s metropolitan statistical areas and identifying the 20 markets that have recorded the biggest investment in new construction this year.

Metropolitan New York City topped the list with $8.5 billion worth of construction starts, followed by Dallas with $5.2 billion. In fourth place was Washington, D.C., with $4.6 billion in starts.

Topping the list of Houston-area projects to break ground during early 2013 are the $72 million MD Anderson Pavilion and the $45 million Hanover Post Oak multi-family high-rise. Those projects are also characteristic of the healthcare and multi-family sectors that are driving much of the development in Houston. By contrast, development in second-place Dallas tends to focus on business operations and infrastructure.

A leading indicator of economic activity, construction starts consist of the full value of single-family home construction, multi-family, office, retail space, warehouses, healthcare facilities, educational buildings, manufacturing plants and research facilities. Land values and land acquisition costs are not included.

Image via Wikimedia Commons user eflon

Fountain Residential to Add Housing Options at University of Houston

10 Jun 2013, 9:08 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

Reflecting the University of Houston’s efforts to add housing options in order to transform itself from an urban commuter-based campus to a Tier One research institution, a new student housing building will soon rise right across from the campus.

Developer Fountain Residential Partners recently broke ground on the five-story, 347-bed project called The Vue on MacGregor. Located directly across Brays Bayou from the Bayou Oaks on-campus housing community – which serves the Greek housing needs of the university – the new development will be the first privately owned off-campus community for The University of Houston. Featuring a modern design, The Vue on MacGregor will be within walking distance to the center of campus and two new light-rail stations. With 5G Studio as the architect and Centerpoint Builders as the general contractor, leasing for the project is set to start in the coming months for a fall 2014 occupancy.

The University of Houston currently has several significant construction projects underway on the campus, spurred by the recent Tier One Research University status and driven by the school’s significant growth. “Reaching Tier One truly takes UH to a new level. This is an exceptional site and project that will support UH’s efforts on campus, and we look forward to being a part of the community,” said Trevor Tollett, vice president of development at Fountain.

The Vue on MacGregor is one of the three Fountain Residential projects currently underway; the company is also developing the Prado, located across from the University of Texas – San Antonio campus on UTSA Boulevard and planned to house as many as 498 students, and Metro Park East, a student housing complex meant to serve the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Dallas-based Grand Campus Living will provide leasing and management services for the three communities.

Other housing developments near the University of Texas that are set for completion this fall include the 800-bed Cougar Place Apartments at 3800 Cullen and the 1,144-bed Cougar Village II, which is to be located at 4873 Wheeler.

Image via Fountain Residential Partners

Crane Worldwide Signs 150 KSF Industrial Lease

28 May 2013, 8:43 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

In order to comfortably service one of its energy clients, Crane Worldwide Logistics has signed a 150,000-square-foot industrial lease at 6501 Navigation Blvd. in Houston.

Tenant Crane Worldwide—a full-service air, ocean and trucking logistics company and customs brokerage—was represented by Ed Frantz and Kevin Kushner of CBRE Group Inc. in the transaction, while the Houston-based Cushman & Wakefield Inc. industrial team of Jim Foreman and Beau Kaleel represented property owner Levey Group.

The transaction marks a major signing for 6501 Navigation Blvd.; Crane’s location is in the property’s 286,000-square-foot Building A (with an adjacent 26,000 square feet, it totals 312,000 square feet). Once totaling 540,000 square feet in 11 buildings constructed in 1950, “the ownership has razed several buildings and sold 10 acres to Centerpoint Energy as part of its redevelopment plan for the site,” said Foreman.

The adjoining space in Building A is currently still available, but sources say that Crane might be considering that space for another expansion.

The 6501 Navigation Blvd. property is located east of downtown Houston, within the I-610 Loop and near the ship channel. The 21.6-acre complex—formerly occupied by Reed Hycalog—is currently undergoing major redevelopment work. So far, owner Levey Group redeveloped the facility by demolishing several of the functionally obsolete buildings and has rebuilt a portion of the main building to provide congruent column spacing and slab elevation.

“This is an ideal facility for Crane Worldwide,” said David Ebro, president of the Levey Group. “The size of the Navigation facility accommodates Crane’s requirements, allowing them to consolidate other operations of theirs into one facility while maintaining expansion capacity within the development.”

Image via LoopNet

Dynamic Week for Houston M-F; McCann Realty Builds, HGI Sells

20 May 2013, 3:44 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

Two recent events stand out as further indicators of the strength of the metro Houston multifamily market: While McCann Realty broke ground on its newest community, the 323-unit Retreat at Vintage Park in the Champions submarket of Houston, Harbour Group International found a buyer for its 696-unit Fairfield Creek apartment community.

The new McCann Realty community will be a part of the Vintage development—located near State Highway 249 on Louetta Road in Northwest Houston, adjacent to the Vintage Park Lifestyle Center, which will provide residents with access to approximately 420,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

The luxury Retreat at Vintage Park Apartments will consist of three-story stone-and-stucco exteriors, featuring attached and detached garages, a large clubhouse with a state-of-the-art fitness center, a resort-style swimming pool and an activity center with video games and media, a cyber cafe and a gourmet kitchen.

With Wells Fargo Bank providing the construction loan, McCann Realty will act as its own general contractor on the project, while Pegasus Residential will be in charge of managing the property. Leasing is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2014.

RB Associates was the buyer in the Fairfield Creek apartment deal; while the transaction amount was not disclosed, seller Harbour Group International paid $27 million for the property in July 2010, then infused $1.5 million into property improvements.

Fairfield Creek was built in 1984 and consists of one-, two- and three-bedroom units averaging 781 square feet per unit. The property spans 24.8 acres and comprises 52 buildings, including 34 two-story structures and 18 three-story structures. The community features four swimming pools with four heated spas, four laundry facilities, picnic areas, a jogging path and limited-access gates. The interior amenities consist of nine-foot ceilings, washer/dryer connections, patios or balconies, brick fireplaces and built-in bookshelves. The asset was approximately 90 percent occupied at the time of the purchase.

Image courtesy of EveryAptMapped.com

Greenway Plaza Becomes Largest LEED-Certified Office Campus in Texas

13 May 2013, 2:31 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

Crescent Real Estate Holdings’ 10-building office campus, Greenway Plaza, recently achieved LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, becoming the largest Texas office campus to earn this designation.

The master-planned business campus consists of an impressive 4.3 million square feet of Class A office space, and is home to The Shops at Greenway; located five miles southwest of downtown Houston, the 55-acre business park and mixed-use community also includes residential condominiums, a luxury hotel and an athletic/social club.

The office park’s commitment to the environment is easily noticeable due to its large lawns, trees and network of internal roadways connecting to underground parking, all helping establish the “green culture” of Greenway Plaza. The ease of access to major freeways and mass transportation adds commuting options for employees and visitors and another layer of environmental sensitivity, as do its biannual electronics collection events. Maintenance and operations are likewise consistent with the LEED program.

“Along with our energy-efficient and now completely LEED-certified 10 buildings, our office campus has plenty of green space, including the largest green roof in Texas covering underground parking. We also have the most convenient mass transportation options for customers,” said Cruse.

Crescent Real Estate Equities L.P.—the entity that manages and, through its affiliates, owns the Greenway Plaza office campus—was the one to seek LEED recognition for the property. Besides attesting to the property’s environmental commitment, the certification provides a significant business advantage to Class A commercial buildings, according to Bob Carlen, vice president of property management for Crescent.

“Crescent is committed to environmental sustainability and being a responsible environmental leader among existing office buildings,” Carlen said. “Conducting ourselves as good environmental stewards is the right thing to do for the environment. At the same time, environmental leadership and energy savings is a sound business practice that helps our customers reduce costs and improve their bottom line.”

Image via GreenwayPlaza.com

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