The Construction Crane Returns to Houston
In 1982, I had yet to embark on my commercial real estate career as I was still an undergraduate at The University of Texas. Then a show about a powerful family in the oil & gas business (Dallas) was one of the most popular on television and energy or real estate was the chosen career path of many young college undergraduates in Texas. A few times a semester, I would make the drive with a car full of dirty clothes to Houston from Austin to replenish my bank account and get some of mom’s home cooking. When making that drive as you reached the west side of Houston and approached downtown you saw first-hand the economic engine of Houston, as the landscape was dotted with construction cranes in what we now refer to in Houston as the “Energy Corridor.” I couldn’t help but think at the time that someday soon I would be working in one of those glass towers, but I didn’t know I would be trying to to fill them with tenants.
In the early 80’s energy and real estate ruled in Texas and the construction crane was often referred to as the State Bird of Texas.
Healthy Office Market Drives Construction Boom
Despite the fact Houston can’t seem to earn the Gateway City tag from the National real estate media, the city has one of the strongest office markets in the country. Healthy office using employment growth is driving a construction boom that ranges from corporate campuses such as the massive new Exxon-Mobil Campus to speculative development in key core sumbarkets such as the Energy Corridor, Galleria, Westchase and The Woodlands.
Granite Properties announced it will break ground this summer on a 300,000-square-foot spec office building at 3141 Briarpark in Houston’s Westchase District.
In The Woodlands, beyond the Exxon Mobil Campus and Andarko campus expansion (550,000 SF), 3 Waterway Square Place is under construction and Warmack Investments is expected to begin construction on a new 300,000 square foot office project.
In the Energy Corridor, Myers Crow & Saviers, Ltd., will begin construction this summer on the 135,000-square-foot Mason Creek OfficeCenter and this past week, Energy Crossing II (245,000 square feet), which will break ground in August reported a lease to move the project forward. Numerous plans for additional office development in the Energy Corridor have been announced and it remains to be seen if all of these projects come to fruition, as most developers are taking a more conservative approach and waiting to sign a lead tenant before starting construction.
Long Live the “Topping Out” Party
I still make that trip down Interstate 10 often, traveling to Austin. The television show “Dallas” is back and so is speculative office development in Houston driven by a healthy energy industry. Looking back, like 30 year ago, Energy and Real Estate now looks like a place to be in Houston and the “Back to the Future” theme seems very real. I can only hope that history doesn’t repeat itself and the Texas Oil and Real Estate Bust that occurred in the mid-1980 follows this time around. Long live the “topping out” broker party.