News & Articles


Posts from February 2011

I-10 & Witte Road

Posted on February 28, 2011 in

This week’s Property of the Week is a shopping center located at I-10 & Witte Road

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Some information on the shopping center.

• 4,093 square feet and 1,460 square feet is available for lease, located along Katy Freeway

• Adjacent to Village Plaza at Bunker Hill - 500,000 square feet retail development anchored by HEB, Academy, Petsmart, Toys ‘R’ Us and other national retailers

• In close proximity to Memorial City Mall, a major super regional shopping destination

• Excellent visibility and exposure along Katy Freeway


For information on this week’s property, please call Felix Zamikovsky at 713.523.2929

Sugar Land finds hints of a turnaround in several big projects

Posted on February 28, 2011 in

By: Purva Patel from Houston Chronicle

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Things look a little sweeter in Sugar Land today.

Recent activity in the last major undeveloped areas inside the city limits suggests an uptick following a recession that dramatically slowed commercial development in the once-booming suburb.

“We think things are really turning around,” said Scott Shafie, general manager of Johnson Development, which is developing a large master-planned community to be anchored by the city’s forthcoming minor league baseball stadium. “Sugar Land is probably one of the best places to develop in the country right now.”

Nowhere is anticipation higher than at the intersection of Texas 6 and U.S. 90A, where another retail project is in development and the stadium is scheduled to open next year. Freeway improvements make the area even more accessible.

“Things are really starting to gel at the corner,” said G. Peter Jacob, principal of Rubicon Realty Group, which owns land near the intersection.

Bullish developers further cite Sugar Land’s positive demographics, including a growing population and a median household income of $93,025 — nearly 90 percent higher than the state as a whole.

“It’s driving more activity than other parts of Houston,” said Matt Keener, a retail broker with CB Richard Ellis. The master-planned Telfair community, in particular, he noted, has attracted many wealthier South Asian families.

“Disposable income, and kids on top of two adults, and - in the case of some Asian communities - extended family as well, it all drives desirability because it means more people to clothe and feed, and that’s great for a retailer,” Keener said.

Three major projects are leading the rebound:

Telfair
When capital markets plunged, commercial development tapered off in Telfair, a 2,000-acre master-planned community started in 2005.

Jay Nowlin, president of The Woodlands-based Nowlin Interests, owns about 3.5 acres at nearby Bonaventure Place, where a Hilton Garden Inn sits. But the tightening lending markets thwarted his original plans to put medical offices there.

“Now we’re looking at doing some retail, though we’ve got a medical user that wants to go in,” he said. “We won’t do a hotel. Hotels are overbuilt.”

When the realty group now known as Rubicon bought 112 acres from Telfair developer Newland Communities, it had planned to start developing at the corner of Texas 6 and U.S. 90A in the winter of 2006. The first building of the boomerang-shaped parcel, the hotel, opened in 2008, and a small medical office and shopping center followed.

Both projects had secured financing before the financial crisis.

“We purchased this land to do development but also to sell tracts of land to other single-purpose users,” Jacob said. “And when the doctors and other types of business or developers weren’t able to get construction loans, things pretty much slowed down.”

Business seems to be picking up again.

In early January, Rubicon announced it had sold about 15 acres to H-E-B, the first major anchor at the center, Crossing at Telfair. H-E-B, which has already started clearing its land for construction, should help attract more retailers to the area that were waiting to sign on once the H-E-B deal closed. A few tracts are under contract, and Jacob said he expects more announcements this year.

Lake Pointe
The city lost thousands of jobs during the recession, most significantly perhaps when Fluor laid off about 2,000 workers.

But city officials are hopeful jobs will soon return. Money Management International brought 350 jobs from Houston when it moved to Sugar Land in September. Accredo Packaging said it would expand its manufacturing facility and add 100 jobs.

And in November, the largest Hyatt Place nationwide opened at Lake Pointe, a 190-acre residential, retail and office project at Texas 6 and U.S. 59. The Hyatt was built to attract business from nearby medical and engineering businesses.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of inquiries and prospects looking to relocate or expand here, so we’re excited about a couple of announcements we’re going to see in the near future bringing new jobs and corporate headquarters here,” Regina Morales, Sugar Land’s director of economic development, said without being more specific.

Most developers are cautiously optimistic.

“We’re fortunate we had a very strong start that sustained us through the slowdown,” said Les Newton, president and Planned Community Developers, which developed Lake Pointe Town Center and Sugar Land Town Square.

Lake Pointe benefited when St. Luke’s Sugar Land Hospital opened there just ahead of the recession and attracted other medical offices as well.

But lot sales declined afterward, between 2007 and 2009, and Newtondoesn’t expect many new buildings to go up for another year or 18 months.

However, last year brought signs that things may be picking up, at least in the retail sector.

Post Oak Grill, which expanded shortly after opening, and other new tenants brought occupancy to about 85 percent in Lake Pointe. Another undisclosed restaurant is expected to go up next door, though developers won’t start construction on the building until the lease closes.

Planned Community Developers has about 10 acres left to build medical offices on. It also has six acres for townhomes and about 36 patio-home lots, which the developer doesn’t plan to sell to home builders until the existing higher-priced homes are all sold, Newton said.

Imperial
Developers have redrawn plans for Imperial, a 700-acre master-planned community across from Telfair, to accommodate the city-owned $30 million minor-league baseball stadium.

New plans include more urban features, such as townhomes, condos and a business park. The ball field might also attract more restaurants and bars to the area.

Though developers are still waiting on approval from the city for its new plans, they imploded two buildings at the old Imperial Sugar refinery site on U.S. 90A to clear land for the development, which has taken years to start.

Investment company Cherokee Sugar Land bought the land in 2007, but development stalled as the economy faltered, a new development partner was chosen and winning a bid to be the site of the city’s $30 million stadium forced a redrawing of its plans.

Land should be ready to sell to builders by the second quarter of 2012, said Shafie, whose Johnson Development is developing the project.

The city is also keeping a close eye on a nearby Central Unit prison that state lawmakers may shutter, opening the door for the 326-acre property’s sale and development.

For some residents who live nearby, the new projects offer hope that property values may increase.

“If it’s a booming area where lots of people want to be, it could help,” said Ryan Barthel, who lives in Sugar Land with his fiance e about half a mile from Imperial.