News & Articles : Texas Real Estate Business

Houston Office Market: Among Nation’s Strongest

Posted on September 21, 2011 in

Marcus & Millichap

One of the “healthiest employment markets in the country” will keep Houston office properties among the nation’s strongest performers this year, reports Marcus & Millichap in its third-quarter 2011 office market update.

Among the firm’s projections for Houston for the remainder of 2011:

The city will add 98,000 jobs this year, an increase of 3.9 percent, the nation’s largest. Last year, the metro gained 45,900 positions, climbing 1.8 percent. Office users will create 17,900 spots, rising 3.4 percent.
In 2011, builders will complete major projects that broke ground before the recession. Developers are expected to bring 1.3 million sf of new office space to the metro, up from 1.1 million sf last year. Over the past five years, annual completions averaged 2.6 million sf.
Thanks to employment gains and below-trend construction, vacancy will fall to 14.1 percent this year, dipping 100 basis points. In 2010, vacancy ticked up 20 basis points.
Asking rents will gain 3.2 percent to $24.55 per sf at year end, while effective rents climb 4.6 percent to $20.80 per sf. In 2010, asking rents were down 1.1 percent while effective rents fell 1.7 percent.

Master Planned Residents Work Near Home

Posted on October 14, 2006 in

By: Blake Tartt III, CEO & President of New | Regional | Planning

For those desiring life in a pastoral and affordable setting, Greater Houston’s master planned communities are the chosen residential destination. The unpleasant trade-off for many master planned residents? A necessity to commute long miles, over long periods of time, for access to the inner city’s densest areas of employment and commerce.

But a welcome end may be in sight for our city’s suburban road warriors. Big-time employers and growing-business hotbeds are themselves beginning to redefine residence in Greater Houston’s master planned communities. It’s a sea change that’s gaining momentum; meaning the need for master planned community residents to drive for dollars is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

Change of this manner is taking place all around Houston. This article will explore change in two such master planned communities: one on the rise, and one that is a model for all others to follow.

Cinco Ranch, a Newland Community on Houston’s west side, is an example of a master planned community where commercial development is beginning to make a difference for area residents. Originally attracted to the area’s proximity to the I-10 energy corridor and its excellent schools, Cinco Ranch is today offering more and more opportunity for those looking to work close to home.

Vista Equities Group and Amstar Group are moving forward with LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch, a $50-million mixed-use property that will feature 240,000 square feet of retail and office space. At the development’s heart is a pedestrian-friendly environment reminiscent of a traditional town square. The development will be a boon for the community’s spirit, but will also attract businesses and local employees alike.

To help further fulfill the need for professional-office, medical and consumer-services space, Veranda at Cinco Ranch is also under development. This 60,000-square-foot mixed-use venue will be ideal for the Cinco Ranch businessperson who has the desire to establish an office close to home.

Another important factor impacting Cinco Ranch – which may initially seem contrary to the notion of working close to home – is the recent opening of the Westpark Tollway. The Tollway is a new economic avenue open to Cinco, as it offers quick access to the heart of Houston. Now those employed in Cinco Ranch can zoom to inner-city commerce hubs, while their inner-city counterparts can also attend a meeting in Cinco Ranch with the same level of convenience.

Turning our attention about 40 miles north of Houston, we find a community that is a shining example for all Houston-area master planned communities to follow: the Woodlands. Established in 1974 as the ultimate outpost for Houstonians seeking a secluded lifestyle, The Woodlands is today a city unto itself, where residences, schools, amenities, retailers and Fortune 500 companies are harmoniously co-existing under the treetops.

Baker Hughes, Chevron Phillips Chemical, Halliburton and Anadarko Petroleum are among the top names on The Woodlands’ impressive roster of corporate citizens. These global companies and many other businesses of virtually every size employ 44,000 people. With 33,000 households in Woodlands, it’s easy to see that the vast majority of Woodlands residents also have the opportunity to work in their own community. Access to quality regional education, medical care, daycare, a mall and one of the region’s most impressive retail-driven Town Center developments make staying close to home an even easier choice.

Communities like Cinco Ranch and The Woodlands have shown us that the long-established employer-employee relationship is being reversed. Traditionally, workers had to travel or even relocate to centers of employment. Today, employers are realizing that to acquire of some of the best intellectual capital, they are the ones required to “commute.”

Along with a localized workforce, de facto zoning is another important advantage offered to businesses in every master planned community.  In Houston, a city devoid of zoning, you may find a prestigious restaurant located next to an all-night bookstore. A real estate mix like this probably wouldn’t be found in a master planned community. Businesses are instead effectively placed into districts where each individual business benefits from a holistic approach. This can mean more sales for everyone. And of course, all businesses and residences are required to conform to signage and aesthetic standards. When looking for locations, many businesses like this kind of controlled environment.

Like The Woodlands to the north, and Cinco Ranch to the west, master planned communities all around Houston are undergoing similar changes. Sugar Land Town Square on the southwest side is a landmark mixed-use development for the area, and the Sienna Plantation master planned development has benefited from nearby economic enhancements.

As more employers move to where the residential rooftops are, today’s master planned community is effectively becoming a city unto itself; offering the same kind of conveniences and employment opportunities found in a metropolis. Which means the long daily commute to and from Houston may also soon become extinct.