News & Articles

Posts from December 2013

Office building to replace Galleria-area wedding venue

Posted on December 18, 2013 in

By Nancy Sarnoff

Construction is expected to start early next year on a 13-story office building in the Galleria that will be marketed to tenants looking for “luxury” space and an “exclusive address,” brokerage firm Jones Lang LaSalle announced Wednesday.

The 135,000-square-foot building will be developed at 1885 St. James Place, where the Courtyard on St. James Place now stands. The special events venue has for years hosted weddings, banquets and business functions.

“Upper-level floors will feature exterior balconies and decorative masonry that will complement the sophisticated look of the limestone aggregate block window wall,” Jones Lang LaSalle’s Chris Dekker said in a statement. The firm will be marketing the building, which will be developed by Nelson Murphree Legacy Partners LLC.

Houston-based Jackson & Ryan Architects is the architect and Tellepsen Builders is the general contractor.

“The need for a niche-type jewel of an office building, combined with existing demand within the area, should result in a substantially committed building prior to construction completion,” said Jones Lang LaSalle’s Chrissy Wilson.

The building’s floor plates will range from 13,476 to 17,963 square feet, providing flexibility for different tenants, the statement said.

Nelson Murphree Legacy Partners is a partnership between former long-time partners, Dennis Nelson and Dennis Murphree. Nelson is the CEO of the Mission Companies. Murphree was in the commercial real estate business from 1971 through 1986. In 1987, he formed Murphree Venture Partners, a venture capital firm. Both the partners’ sons are joining the firm.


City easing back to normal growth

Posted on December 04, 2013 in

By L.M. Sixel
December 4, 2013

The local economy is poised for a more sustainable rate of growth next year, a Greater Houston Partnership executive said Tuesday.

Patrick Jankowski, the partnership’s vice president of research, said he believes the Houston area will create 69,800 new jobs next year, a 2.5 percent year-over-year growth rate. Jankowski made his prediction during an economic outlook luncheon.

That is a slightly less than the 78,000 jobs Jankowski predicts Houston will gain by the end of 2013.

“We’ve been growing so fast and so long that we can’t keep up with that pace of growth,” he said.

Every sector is expected to add jobs in 2014 with business and professional services, construction, energy and foreign trade leading the way. Continued gains in population will spur more demand for retail, health services and restaurants.

Jankowski’s prediction is in line with that of Bill Gilmer, director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston.

Gilmer said last month that he believes the Houston area will create about 65,000 new jobs in 2014, for a year-over-year gain of 2.2 percent.

Those job gains, as well as population growth, have spurred demand for cars and trucks, said Martin Collins, president of Gulf States Toyota, which distributes Toyota vehicles and parts to more than 100 dealerships in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

Vehicle sales rebounded in 2012 following three tough years, said Collins, who was part of a panel discussion on the local economy. Low interest rates, the availability of credit and local income growth have made 2013 another year of tremendous gains, he said.

Houston, which has long had a reputation as a “boom and bust market,” has become a global target for real estate developers, said Mark A. Cover, senior managing director and CEO of the southwest region for commercial real estate firm Hines.

The spotlight on Houston is also drawing in young skilled workers.

“Houston has become a place of choice,” Cover said. “We don’t have to recruit them.”

But Houston is also facing a shortage of skilled construction workers, such as pipefitters and welders, that will become a “pinch point” for the local economy, he said. As high schools have been more focused on sending students to college, the skilled trades haven’t been able to attract as many young people as they need.

The demand for talent is boosting wages and forcing companies to focus on how to retain their skilled workers.

Gulf States Toyota, for example, has had to rethink its competition because of the job offers its employees in vehicle processing are getting. The skilled employees, who earn $15 to $16 an hour, are attractive to other companies.

Bobby Tudor, chairman and CEO of Tudor Pickering Holt & Co., the energy investment banking firm, said he faces a lot of wage pressure for engineers, geologists and geophysicists.

There aren’t enough of them to go around, Tudor said, and the economy is “miles away” from making sure there is an ample supply of graduates from engineering and the geosciences.

Tudor said energy companies are paying “well over $100,000 a year” for recently graduated engineers. Those workers earn $300,000 to $400,000 five to seven years out of school, he said.

Houston also needs a couple of “major players” to get a tipping point as a go-to place for the life sciences, said Robert C. Robbins, president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center.

The center is the largest medical center in the world. If Houston landed a couple of key players - such as pharmaceutical makers, medical device makers and venture capitalists - it would signal to the rest of the medical community that Houston is the place to be, he said.

While Robbins said he has helped a few companies relocate from California, he told the group he is talking with a big company in Boston about moving to Houston.