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Crescent to Break Ground on New Class AA Office Building in Houston’s CBD

10 Mar 2014, 8:32 pm

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

Fort Worth-based Crescent Real Estate Holdings LLC plans to commence development of 6 Houston Center, a 600,000-square-foot Class AA office tower to be located on the east side of Houston’s central business district.

With robust demand outpacing completions and Class AA occupancy rates running at above 96 percent, Houston’s office market is expected to thrive. Boasting an impressive ownership and development portfolio, which includes Houston Center, Post Oak Central and Greenway Plaza, Crescent aims to expand its local footprint and deliver a high-quality product to meet Houston’s growing demand for top-tier office space.

“Houston is one of the strongest office markets in the country, and the time is right to launch this exciting new project,” said John Goff, chairman & CEO of Crescent Real Estate Holdings LLC. “6 Houston Center represents everything Houston’s premier companies need to meet their office space needs in recruiting and retaining top talent, including outstanding location, amenities, sponsorship and design.”

Designed by HKS Architects, 6 Houston Center is pre-certified LEED Gold. The 30-story contemporary structure integrates a plurality of innovative features that promote it as the new evolution in commercial office space. Project specifics include highly efficient floor plates, with 10-foot ceiling heights and 12-foot ceilings on upper-level floors; a 35-foot-tall lobby; a nine-level garage (one level below grade) offering a superior parking ratio of 1.7 per 1,000 square feet; and a 15-foot-tall glass skybridge connecting the building to 1 Houston Center. The 10th floor will be a concierge floor, showcasing a rooftop garden, fitness center and conference center, according to the developer. Additional amenities include a coffee bar, a customer lounge and secure bike storage.

Crescent expects to secure building permits and select a general contractor by the end of this month. Groundbreaking is scheduled for mid-summer 2014.

To be located on Block 95 in the CBD, across from 1 Houston Center/LyondellBasell Tower, the building will enjoy close proximity to the Four Seasons, Hilton Americas and planned Marriott Marquis hotels; as well as the new east/west light-rail line. Area amenities include The Shops at Houston Center and GreenStreet; a plethora of dining venues including The Grove, Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick’s, Mia Bella Trattoria and Guadalajara Del Centro; and convenient METRO Bus and Greenlink connections for commuters.

Crescent tapped Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. to handle leasing for 6 Houston Center. Senior Vice President Chrissy Wilson will head the assignment.

The speculative office project bears a $250 million price tag, as reported by the Houston Business Journal.

Rendering of 6 Houston Center courtesy of Crescent Real Estate Holdings via PRWeb



Liberty Property Trust Kicks Off 20-Acre Office Project in Northwest Houston

3 Mar 2014, 9:59 pm

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

Liberty Property Trust has broken ground on the first building at Legacy at Fallbrook, a 20-acre premier office development just south of the southeast corner of Fallbrook Drive at Beltway 8, in Northwest Houston. The Class A vacancy rate in the area has dropped below 5 percent, with few large blocks of space available. At full build-out, the project will showcase two additional buildings to cater to tenants seeking Class A office space.

“We are very excited to announce the development of our first office building in Houston. This location is perfect for Class A office, offering high visibility and multiple access points to the Beltway,” said Jay Kraft, vice president & city manager for Liberty’s Houston region. “Liberty is a leader in the development of premier high-performance office environments, and we are excited to put that strength to work in our Legacy at Fallbrook project.”

The 208,000-square-foot Class A office building will be located at 10720 West Sam Houston Parkway North. The five-story tilt-wall building provides efficient, 41,600-square-foot floor plates and connects to a structured parking garage with an above-average parking ratio of 5.0 per 1,000. Amenities include 10-foot ceilings on every floor, Class A finishes throughout the building, a highly visible location, as well as ideal ingress and egress.

Liberty has selected Stream Realty Partners to handle leasing for the new building. Powers Brown Architecture is the project architect, and EE Reed Construction Co. serves as general contractor.

Phase I of Legacy at Fallbrook is designed to achieve LEED Silver certification and will be open for lease in the first quarter of 2015, according to the developer.

As a strong promoter of the green building movement, Liberty has developed more than 15 million square feet of LEED® space in nearly 70 buildings and certified 112 Energy Star® buildings nationwide. Notable achievements include the LEED Gold-certified Comcast Center tower in Philadelphia; eight LEED-certified projects at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, including the LEED Platinum One Crescent Drive; the LEED Gold 8501 E. Raintree Drive building (known as “The Vanguard Building”) in Scottsdale, Ariz.; and the LEED Gold Maitland Summit III building in Boca Raton, Fla.

Photo credit: Stream Realty Partners via Citybizlist



Howard Hughes to Kick Off 303-Key Luxury Hotel in The Woodlands

24 Feb 2014, 6:30 am

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

The Howard Hughes Corp. (NYSE:HHC) and its wholly-owned subsidiary, The Woodlands Development Co. announced plans to start construction on a full-service hotel at One Waterway Square in The Woodlands Town Center.

Designed for business travelers, the outfit will feature 303 luxurious guest rooms and suites, plus 24,000 square feet of meeting and special event space. The upscale hotel will showcase a fine dining restaurant, as well as a second-level pool deck and bar overlooking The Woodlands Waterway, the community’s signature 1.4-mile-long water feature; a transportation corridor; and a linear park. The project will also include a pedestrian bridge spanning The Waterway and the addition of a performance stage at Waterway Square.

Located just 27 miles from downtown Houston, The Woodlands is a major employment hub, with 1,700 employers and more than 50,000 employees. It is home to such companies as Andarko Petroleum, Aon Hewitt, Baker Hughes, Chevron Phillips, US Oncology and Fox Networks Group. More recently, Exxon Mobil Corp. inked a deal to lease approximately 478,000 square feet of office space at Hughes Landing, a 66-acre mixed-use community situated on Lake Woodlands.

“There is a tremendous need for additional first-class hotel rooms in The Woodlands, with over 20 million people visiting The Woodlands Town Center each year,” said Paul Layne, executive vice president of master-planned communities for Howard Hughes. “A hotel of this caliber will attract both business and leisure travelers into the heart of The Waterway Square District, within walking distance to hundreds of businesses, shops and restaurants as well as major entertainment venues such as The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.”

The hospitality project is scheduled for completion in mid-2015.

Rendering of The Waterway Square Hotel courtesy of The Woodlands Development Company via The Woodlands Convention & Visitors Bureau



Balfour Beatty to Oversee Energy Center Four Construction; Luxury M-F Complex to Break Ground in Energy Corridor

17 Feb 2014, 6:58 am

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

Joint venture partners Trammell Crow Co. and Principal Real Estate Investors have selected Balfour Beatty Construction as general contractor for Energy Center Four, a 22-story, Class AA office tower in the heart of Houston’s booming Energy Corridor.

Located at the southwest corner of Interstate 10 and North Eldridge Parkway, the state-of-the-art property features 598,000 rentable square feet and will include a standalone, 2,300-car parking garage. It also boasts LEED Gold pre-certification for Core and Shell, according to official statements.

Balfour Beatty started working on the project in December 2013, following months of pre-construction and planning with Trammell Crow and Kirksey Architecture. Other team members include Cardno Haynes Whaley, Wylie Consulting Engineers, Walter P Moore and TBG Partners.

The new tower is the second project to break ground at the Energy Center complex and will be fully occupied by ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), as reported by the Houston Business Journal. The new lease brings the energy giant’s total footprint at the complex to 1.2 million square feet.

The Energy Corridor is a master-planned business district that integrates a plurality of uses, including office, retail and residential. It is home to more than 300 multinational companies occupying over 22 million square feet of office space, including BP America, CITGO Petroleum Corp. and Foster Wheeler. More than 1.3 million square feet of retail space is anticipated to grow to 2.9 million by 2030, while office space is projected to increase by an additional 10.7 million square feet, according to the development’s website.

Intensified office construction and job growth have generated robust demand for top-tier multifamily housing in the area. The Worthing Cos. recently announced plans to break ground on The Heights at Park Row, a 342-unit luxury multifamily community.

“Our 2013 land use and demographics study projects population growth of more than 8 percent within the 30-minute drive-time area of The Energy Corridor, which now comprises more than 2.3 million people and 790,000 households,” commented Clark Martinson, general manager of The Energy Corridor District, in a statement for the press. “We need residential housing development in The Energy Corridor, and The Worthing Cos. project helps us meet this impending demand.”

To be located on a nine-acre tract in Wolff Cos.’ Central Park, a 78-acre mixed-use development in The Energy Corridor, the upscale apartment project is expected to open near the end of this year.

Rendering of Energy Center Four via Balfour Beatty
Aerial view of The Energy Corridor, future home of The Heights at Park Row, via Wolff Cos.



Air Liquide to Relocate Corporate HQs to Memorial City

10 Feb 2014, 6:33 am

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

Air Liquide plans to relocate its American corporate headquarters from the Galleria area to the Air Liquide Center, a 20-story, Class A property scheduled to break ground this month in Memorial City.

A world leader in gases, technologies and services for industry and health, Air Liquide is present in 80 countries with close to 50,000 employees and serves more than 2 million customers and patients. The move will provide Air Liquide with expanded space and a premier work environment to accommodate the company’s anticipated growth.

To be located at 9811 and 9807 Katy Freeway, the Air Liquide Center business park will include a 20-story, 452,000-square-foot structure and an adjacent 145,000-square-foot building. Both are LEED Silver pre-certified and will connect to a network of skywalks providing access to Memorial City Mall.

The project is expected to break ground in January 2014, with a completion date set for November 2015.

Air Liquide’s administrative and industrial operations will initially occupy the upper six floors of the 20-story tower, in addition to the first-floor lobby and office space, totaling 155,000 square feet, with options to expand floor space. Its Engineering & Construction operations will occupy two floors of the second building, totaling 67,000 square feet. Morris Architects is the architect of record for the tower. Gensler serves as the architect for the second building and will design Air Liquide’s interiors in both buildings, according to a statement for the press.

Memorial City is a 265-acre mixed-use development in West Houston owned and managed by MetroNational. It runs along the Interstate 10 corridor, just inside Beltway 8, and contains approximately 7.6 million square feet of developed real estate, including the 1.7 million-square-foot Memorial City Mall; garden and high-rise residential living; Class A office space; upscale hotel accommodations such as The Westin Memorial City; and the Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center, the second-largest medical campus in the Houston metropolitan area.

“With the announcement of Air Liquide, four major publicly traded companies have made the decision to relocate to Memorial City in the last 24 months, filling 750,000 total square feet of office space,” said Randy Nerren, executive vice president at MetroNational. “We are delighted that Air Liquide has joined the growing roster of international companies that realize all that Memorial City has to offer.”

Rendering of the Air Liquide Center courtesy of Air Liquide via Business Wire



Second SkyHouse Luxury Community to Break Ground in Houston

3 Feb 2014, 5:59 am

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

A joint venture consisting of Simpson Housing LLP of Denver, Atlanta-based Novare Group and Batson-Cook Development Co., and Houston-based Peter W. Dienna announced plans to break ground on SkyHouse River Oaks, a 25-story, 352-home luxury apartment community in Houston’s River Oaks neighborhood.

SkyHouse River Oaks will be located in Cypress Real Estate Advisors’ new master-planned redevelopment of the Westcreek at River Oaks community, within Loop 610 near the Houston Galleria. It will feature one- and two-bedroom residential units with high-end finishes and floor-to-ceiling glass. The signature “SkyHouse,” to be situated on the 25th floor, will showcase a club room, fitness area and outdoor plazas that include two swimming pools, fireplaces, a demonstration kitchen and an outdoor kitchen with covered outdoor lounges and 360-degree views of the city.

Designed to be environmentally sustainable, SkyHouse River Oaks also seeks Energy Star certification.

The project is slated for completion in the first quarter of 2015. JP Morgan is providing construction financing, with Simpson Housing, NGI Investments LLC and Batson-Cook providing equity.

This is the partnership’s second foray into the Houston multifamily market. Construction is currently underway on SkyHouse Houston, a 24-story, 336-unit luxury apartment complex with street-level retail at 1625 Main St. in the Central Business District.

“Houston is a dynamic, thriving city, with several submarkets that are highly attractive to the target demographic for SkyHouse: Gen Y professionals who are looking for live-work-play options in major cities,” said Jim Borders, president of Novare Group.

SkyHouse River Oaks is the 10th SkyHouse luxury apartment high-rise, an innovative multi-family program representing an investment of more than $600 million across the Southeastern United States, according to a statement for the press. The partnership allows the SkyHouse communities to be delivered at a competitive cost basis in urban locations where strong demographic trends favor in-town living but where apartment cost economics are otherwise difficult for high-rise towers directed at a younger population.

“This is a demographically driven program targeting younger residents who desire a high-rise urban lifestyle with entertainment and leisure options close by. Between the years 2012 and 2017, 4.2 million people will turn 22 every single year, and for many in this demographic, they will find SkyHouse to be an ideal place to call home,” commented Mark Stewart, director of investments at Batson-Cook.

Rendering of the SkyHouse River Oaks Luxury Community via Novare Group



Brookhollow Central II & III Awarded LEED Gold; Skanska’s Capitol Tower Earns LEED v4 Platinum Pre-Certification

27 Jan 2014, 5:27 am

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

Brookhollow Central II and III, two office properties on Houston’s Brookhollow Central campus, along with Buckhead Tower at Lenox Square in Atlanta, were recently awarded a certification for LEED™ Gold for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance by the U.S. Green Building Council. All three buildings are owned and managed by Miami-based Parmenter Realty Partners.

Brookhollow Central is a three-building, 800,000-square-foot office park located on a 10-acre tract at Highway 290 and the 610 Loop. On-site amenities include postal and courier services, an auditorium, shoe shine  and car wash services, a delicatessen and a fitness center. The compound was awarded Energy Star labels in 2009, 2010 and 2011 for its operating efficiency, according to the development’s website.

“The award of LEED Gold certification at our three properties demonstrates Parmenter’s dedication to providing value to our tenants by delivering more efficient and cost-effective services and supporting our desire to be responsible global citizens,” said Steve Harrison, managing director of facilities and sustainability at Parmenter.

Sustainable features recognized by the LEED Gold certification include improved operations and tenant comfort through implementation of a comprehensive re-commissioning program for the building operations, HVAC equipment and lighting, to identify opportunities to optimize performance, and direction of the janitorial services vendor’s operation to deliver environmentally friendly cleaning services.

As a leader in sustainability in the commercial real estate industry, Parmenter Realty Partners strives to maximize building performance portfolio-wide. With the latest achievements, the company now owns and operates 12 LEED-certified properties, representing more than 4.6 million square feet.

In other news, Citybizlist reports that Skanska USA Commercial Development’s Capitol Tower has received LEED v4 Platinum pre-certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The Gensler-designed office building is one of only three core and shell projects nationally to be pre-certified under the new version of LEED.

To be located at 808 Capitol St. in downtown Houston, the 750,000-square-foot Class A tower will feature innovative design features and sustainability elements, including a high-performance building façade that significantly reduces solar gain; daylight harvesting technology to save energy; a garage with occupancy lighting sensors and a green rooftop; alternative vehicle charging stations; as well as a rainwater collection system for reuse in landscape irrigation and water closets.

“Skanska made it clear from the beginning of the design process that they wanted this to be the most sustainable building in Houston,” said Gensler Principal Kristopher Stuart in a statement. “We really pushed our team to move beyond anything we have done before to create a building that offers an exceptional work environment in a high-performance envelope that will dramatically reduce operating costs. The design also places an extraordinary emphasis on public spaces and pedestrian experiences, which we believe will greatly enhance and enrich Houston’s urban fabric.”

Photo credits: Brookhollow Central courtesy of Parmenter Realty Partners via official website; Rendering of Capitol Tower via Citybizlist



W.P. Carey Expands Houston Footprint with 22-Story Office Acquisition; New Hyatt Place Opens in The Woodlands

20 Jan 2014, 4:39 am

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

W.P. Carey Inc., a real estate investment trust specializing in corporate sale-leaseback financing, build-to-suit financing and the acquisition of single-tenant net-lease properties, announced two acquisitions completed on behalf of its managed REITs at year-end 2013.

CPA®:17 – Global picked up a 22-story office tower located at 500 Jefferson St. in downtown Houston. The 390,479-square-foot building is anchored by KBR Inc., a global engineering, construction and services company supporting the energy, hydrocarbon, government services, minerals, civil infrastructure, power, industrial and commercial markets. KBR is on a long-term lease through June 2030, according to official statements. Nine other tenants occupy 9 percent of the property. CPA®:17 – Global also owns KBR’s headquarters at 601 Jefferson, which it acquired in 2012.

CPA®:18 – Global purchased a three-property portfolio totaling 636,857 square feet in Madison and Logansport, Ind., and Marion, S.C. The three facilities are being leased to Crowne Group under a 25-year triple-net lease with annual CPI increases. The total acquisition price was approximately $22.3 million.

“We are pleased to have closed out 2013 with two solid acquisitions for our managed portfolios,” said Gino Sabatini, W. P. Carey managing director & co-head of global investments. “With its acquisition of the Houston office tower, CPA®:17 – Global has secured another long-term lease with KBR, a strong company located in a growing market. CPA®:18 – Global’s sale-leaseback with the Crowne Group is a prime example of how we provide capital to growing companies. The transaction provides Crowne with the necessary funding for future acquisitions of businesses that are complimentary to Crowne’s overall corporate strategy, while adding a 25-year lease to CPA®:18 – Global’s portfolio.”

In hospitality news, Hyatt Hotels Corp. and New Horizons Hospitality announced the opening of the 146-key Hyatt Place Houston/The Woodlands hotel, the third Hyatt Place in the Houston area.

Located at 1909 Research Forest Drive, the hotel offers easy access to The Woodlands’ main attractions, including The Woodlands Mall, Market Street and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

The facility features studio-like suites with 46-inch HDTVs and a series of functional amenities, such as free Wi-Fi, more than 6,100 square feet of flexible, high-tech meeting and function space, a Coffee to Cocktails Bar and a 24-hour StayFit Gym.

Photo credits: W. P. Carey Inc. via PRNewswire



200-Unit Luxury Apartment Complex Changes Hands

6 Jan 2014, 5:19 am

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

A multifamily apartment complex in the Greater Houston area recently changed hands. Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services announced on Dec. 23 it had arranged the sale of The Palms at Cinco Ranch in Richmond, Texas, 15 miles southwest of Houston. The terms of the sale were not disclosed.

The Palms at Cinco Ranch was constructed in 2010 on more than 13 acres of land at 23600 Farm-to-Market 1093 Road. The 218,388-square-foot property is close to State Highway 99 and just 20 miles from the George Bush Intercontinental Airport. It features 200 one-, two- and three-bedroom units, ranging in size from 801 square feet to 1,496 square feet. Apartment amenities include gourmet kitchens with deluxe appliances, crown moldings, nine-foot ceilings, double vanities in the master bathrooms, separate showers, private patios or balconies, ceiling fans, built-in computer desks, walk-in closets and intrusion alarms. This gated, pet-friendly community also offers its residents a state-of-the-art clubhouse, a business center with a conference room, a game lounge, a 24-hour fitness center, a resort-style pool with a large sundeck and Jacuzzi, a barbecue grilling area and 34 detached garages.

Hudson Capital Investments of Charleston, S.C., acquired the property. Norman Eastwood, senior vice president of investments in Marcus & Millichap’s Dallas office, and Jerry Goldstein, first vice president of investments, and Juan Cuevas, associate, in the firm’s Houston office represented the buyer and the seller, an out-of-state private investor, in the transaction.

“The Houston metro’s apartment sector is riding tailwinds generated by one of the nation’s strongest and fastest-growing economies,” Eastwood said in a statement for the press. “Broad-based hiring across multiple industries enhances the metro’s stature as a magnet for recent graduates from local and regional colleges, further expanding the pool of prospective renters.”

“West Houston and its surrounding suburbs have become an affluent white-collar area with strong entertainment and business sectors,” Cuevas added. “The area is home to numerous restaurants, retail centers, shopping malls and businesses.”

According to a Marcus & Millichap Houston Metro Area Apartment Market Report for the fourth quarter of the year, the elevated apartment construction has not diminished investors’ appetites, and demand for multifamily properties is still high, as transactions continue to occur at an elevated pace across all investor segments, from small local players to institutions. This past year, the number of properties sold with more than 100 units increased more than 40 percent.

Photo credits: The Palms at Cinco Ranch
Charts courtesy of Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services


Exxon to Expand Houston Footprint, Inking 478,000-SF Lease

30 Dec 2013, 6:20 am

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

Exxon Mobil Corp. signed a deal to lease approximately 478,000 square feet of office space at Hughes Landing, a 66-acre mixed-use community situated on Lake Woodlands.

The energy giant will take over an entire office building and a portion of a second structure at the master-planned development, with plans to move in during the first half of 2016, according to The Woodlands Development Co., a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Howard Hughes Corp. (NYSE: HHC).

Each building will feature approximately 300,000 square feet of Class A office space. The compound will also include an adjacent 13-story, 800,000-square-foot parking garage.

“We are very pleased to welcome ExxonMobil as a tenant in Hughes Landing, only a short distance from their new campus,” said Paul Layne, executive vice president of master-planned communities for The Howard Hughes Corp. “Their offices in Hughes Landing are ideally situated, only steps away from all that Hughes Landing has to offer, providing their employees a one-of-a-kind setting where they can work in a vibrant lakeside community.”

Designed by Houston-based Kirksey Architects, the buildings are seeking LEED certification. Harvey Builders will oversee the work as general contractor.

At full build-out, Hughes Landing will feature as many as 11 Class A office buildings; shopping, dining and entertainment; a 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market®, an upscale hotel; a state-of-the-art fitness center; and as many as 800 multi-family residences.

The first office building, One Hughes Landing, opened almost fully leased less than 10 months after starting construction; according to the developers, that is an excellent indicator of the strong demand for premium commercial, residential and retail space in The Woodlands.

Construction is currently underway on Two Hughes Landing, a 197,000-square-foot, Class A building expected to be complete in mid-2014.

Restaurant Row in Hughes Landing will house a variety of culinary establishments, including Escalante’s Fine Tex-Mex & Tequila and Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar, which have already signed leases and will soon begin construction.

Photo credits: ExxonMobil in The Woodlands -View Rendering via Business Wire



Morgan to Break Ground on Luxury Apartment Community

21 Dec 2013, 6:56 am

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

The Morgan Group Inc., a leader in high-end multifamily development, construction and property management, announced plans to add another amenity-rich residential complex to its Houston portfolio under the Pearl brand.

Dubbed Pearl Woodlake, the new 376-unit luxury apartment community will be located at 2033 S. Gessner Road in Houston’s thriving Westchase District. It will offer a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment homes, ranging from 607 to 1693 square feet. Amenities include open floor plans, kitchen islands in select units, under-mount kitchen sinks, high-end wood-style floors, full-size washers and dryers, walk-in closets, side-by-side refrigerators/freezers, contemporary track and pendant lighting, patios and balconies in select units, and USB outlets.

Additionally, the upscale development will feature an oversize pool courtyard with outdoor kitchen and poolside cabanas, grilling stations, a dog park, an e-lounge, a club room and sports pub/lounge, eVgo car charging stations and a platinum athletic club with private spin bike studio.

Construction is expected to start in the first quarter of 2014, with opening scheduled for summer 2015. Financing for the project is being provided by Regions Bank.

“The Westchase District has become one of the strongest office markets in Houston, which is driving demand in the area for more luxury apartments,” said CEO Mike Morgan. “This property will be a popular choice for those who value a live-work-play environment in one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods. The amenities at Pearl Woodlake will be first class. Aside from close proximity to growing employment centers in West Houston, the property is a short drive away from popular retail destinations, including CityCentre, Memorial City and The Galleria. At Pearl Woodlake, residents can have it all.”

Rents are projected to start around $1,250 per unit and go as high as $2,600 per unit, according to company statements.

Morgan launched its Pearl brand last summer with the Pearl Greenway luxury community (pictured at right) in Houston’s Greenway Plaza.

Over the last 25 years, the Houston-based company has developed more than 50 projects in major job growth markets throughout the U.S., consisting of over 15,000 units with a total cost exceeding $1.7 billion.

Photo credits: Pearl Greenway via official website



Joint Venture Awarded $90M Contract with HISD; Rigid Breaks Ground on New Manufacturing Facility

16 Dec 2013, 6:35 am

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

The Houston Independent School District (HISD) has awarded B3Ci, a joint venture comprising Balfour Beatty Construction and 3Ci, a construction services contract valued at $90 million as part of its 2012 bond program.

The joint venture will assume construction responsibilities for three local campuses, including a new two-story classroom wing at Worthing High School in south Houston; construction of a new Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice High School on a new site; and a new North Forest High School in north Houston.

B3Ci is collaborating with Molina Walker Architects to remodel Worthing High School and transform it into a 21st century campus. Construction is currently underway on a new classroom wing for the campus that will be able to accommodate as many as 1,300 students, with completion slated for 2014. The two-story outfit will house a clinic and community center, career and technical classrooms, and art labs.

Planning on the new Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice High School has already begun, with construction expected to start in the summer of 2014. Designed by international architecture and engineering firm PageSoutherlandPage, the building will accommodate 1,100 students in roughly 150,000 square feet of technical classrooms. Funding for the project was secured through the sale of the school’s previous location on Shepherd Drive.

PageSoutherlandPage will also provide design services for the North Forest High School, which will hold as many as 1,500 students in approximately 200,000 square feet of space. The project is expected to break ground in the spring of 2014.

In addition to delivering superior education construction projects, the B3Ci partnership strives to offer broader opportunities for Minority/Women Business Enterprises (MWBE). As construction manager for these three local developments, B3Ci guarantees to exceed HISD’s MWBE goal of 40 percent participation at each campus. Team members from each organization will be participating at high levels of project management and other roles throughout construction, Balfour Beatty said in a statement.

In other news, Rigid Global Buildings, an industry-leading manufacturer of pre-engineered steel buildings and metal building components, broke ground on a new structural steel manufacturing facility in North Houston.

With this move, Rigid expects to expand and launch its business into the heavy construction market, providing structural steel for larger projects such as multi-story office buildings, hospitals, stadiums and other commercial ventures.

The new building will feature 126,000 square feet of space and is expected to generate more than 200 jobs over the next five years.

Rendering of Worthing High School via Balfour Beatty



Hines Tapped to Manage 1001 McKinney; Groundbreaking Set for Mid-Main Project

9 Dec 2013, 9:10 pm

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

Silverpeak Real Estate Partners and Cameron Management tapped Hines, the international real estate company, to handle property management for 1001 McKinney, a 23-story building in the heart of downtown Houston.

Formerly known as the City National Bank Building, the landmark Art Deco high-rise on the corner of McKinney and Main was constructed in 1947. It was awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council under the LEED® for Existing Buildings (EB) Program and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

According to Hines, the firm’s property management team will be “hyper focused on repositioning this asset and creating significant value for ownership.”

1001 McKinney offers 375,440 square feet of office space and hosts a diverse tenant base, including Conley Rose P.C.; Kelley, Kronenberg, Gilmartin, Fichtel, Wander, Bamdas, Eskalyo & Dunbrack P.A.; McGlinchey Stafford PLLC; Shannon, Martin, Finkelstein & Alvarado P.C.; and Thorpe Petroleum Corp. Occupancy stands at 79 percent.

Meanwhile, The Architect’s Newspaper reports that Houston’s Mid-Main project is about to take off.

Seven years in the making, the project is the city’s first transit-oriented development (TOD) and aims to bring forth a new kind of cosmopolitan design to cater to the largest population cohort in America today, the so-called Millennials.

The brainchild of developers Bob Shultz and RHS Interests, the two-block mixed-use complex located along the METRORail light-rail system is designed by New York City–based Rogers Partners Architects + Urban Designers, Gensler Houston and Will Cannady.

“A key owner and designer decision was to abandon the traditional ‘Houston Wrap’ typology of apartments surrounding a parking deck, and instead develop a podium that provides street-level activities to surround the site, while concentrating residences around a common open space,” architect Rob Rogers of Rogers Partners told The Architect’s Newspaper. “Instead of a monolithic two-block wall, the pro-urban scheme acknowledges the street grid and massing, including placing the major public access point across from the Mid-Main rail stop.”

To be located on the 3500 and 3600 blocks of Main Street, Mid-Main will consist of a mixed-use compound that will integrate residential and retail uses. Plans call for 363 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartment homes to sit atop 30,000 square feet of retail space. The building will also feature three levels of parking, two of which will be open to public use and one retained exclusively for the residents.

The project is expected to break ground in spring 2014, with a completion date set for mid- to late 2015.

Photo credit: 1001 McKinney courtesy of Hines
Rendering of Mid-Main via official Web site



Intercontinental Acquires Sawyer Heights Lofts for $61.6M; Construction Underway on Phillips 66 Corporate Campus

2 Dec 2013, 4:02 pm

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor

Boston-based Intercontinental Real Estate Corp. acquired the Sawyer Heights Lofts, a 326-unit apartment community in Houston’s Downtown/West Inner Loop, for $61.6 million.

“We are thrilled to have another property investment in Houston,” said Intercontinental CEO Peter Palandjian. “The Houston metro area has become an important target market for Intercontinental because of its impressive commercial resiliency, its vibrancy and diverse economic engine.”

The acquisition was made on behalf of Intercontinental’s U.S. Real Estate Investment Fund L.L.C. which partnered with Greystar Real Estate Partners for the deal, the company said in a statement.

Constructed in 2008, the building is situated adjacent to Interstate 10 and the Central Business District. It was 99 percent leased at the time of closing.

Sawyer Heights Lofts offers a mix of one- and two-bedroom floor plans with high-end finishes, 10-foot ceilings, walk-in closets, washer/dryer units and sweeping city views. Common amenities include a 24-hour fitness facility with yoga and pilates rooms, a resort-style pool with heated spa, a meditation garden, a gourmet kitchen, a latte lounge and a billiards room. Additionally, the 307,402-square-foot property features a six-story parking garage with 567 spaces.

Meanwhile, construction has begun on a new 1.1 million-square-foot headquarters campus for Phillips 66 in West Houston.

The multibuilding campus will be located on a 14.2-acre site off Beltway 8 West between Westheimer Road and Briar Forest Drive in the Westchase District. Amenities will include a cafeteria, a fitness center, a credit union, covered parking and a training and development center.

St. Louis-based design, architecture and engineering firm HOK is the project architect, while W.S. Bellows Construction of Houston serves as general contractor, according to the Houston Business Journal.

The company plans to relocate all of its 1,800 Houston-area employees to the new headquarters once the project is complete. Construction is expected to take 24 to 36 months.

Phillips 66 will join other notable energy companies that have chosen Houston’s Westchase District as their corporate home, including Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Anadarko, Noble Energy, Southwestern Energy, ConocoPhillips and BHP Billiton.

Photo Credits: Sawyer Heights Lofts courtesy of Intercontinental Real Estate Corp.; Rendering of Phillips 66 Headquarters via HOK.



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







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