Facebook Buys Astrodome
The boom in the Houston area means that we need for more water to support growth. Attend the North Houston Association's April 25 luncheon on "The Future of Water for the Houston Region" with speaker Kevin Ward, Executive Director of the Trinity River Authority (register here).
Talk about a cool crib: Facebook purchased the Astrodome and announced plans for a regional hub officing out of the iconic dome.
Facebook will relocate 150 workers
and look to hire about that many locally. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
(who reportedly will owe $1 billion in taxes this year) says he couldn't ignore all the headlines about Houston's job growth
and low taxes. "We like to be cutting-edge
in all our decisions, and our facilities are no different," he said in a statement. "When we heard the Astrodome was sitting unused, we just couldn't resist. Such an iconic building
is the perfect addition to our portfolio."
Although plans aren't finalized, we learned renowned architect Pickard Chilton
is spearheading design of the office; what was once first base will become a swimming pool
surrounded by beanbag desks
for Facebook's youthful employee base. A track will ring the outside, where employees could run but more likely will race robots
. And of course, the roof will be emblazoned
with its signature blue and white F. Our calls to the Mayor's office for how this will impact the area went unanswered, perhaps because we made up the story for April 1. Or maybe they just screen their calls.
3 Quick Land Facts
Looking for the next big thing
? Sage Group managing director Mike Miller
will be the next acquisition target across Texas. (Get your flags ready—that's the best way to claim it.) He provided us with some info on the state of the sector.
1) Assessments are about to skyrocket: Tax assessors are gearing up to increase assessments at above-average inflationary rates: We could see a 7% bump in Houston. Our average home price increased 9% last year.2) We need home lots:
January 2013's inventory of homes is only 3.7 months, the lowest level since '99
. (Back then we weren't building because of the imminent threat of Y2K.) Mike honed in on The Woodlands
—at the end of last year, it had 2,750
residential lots remaining. But with over 10,000 new jobs coming to Exxon's campus alone, the area is seriously underserved
is another hot area; its land sales increased 31%
last year. Look for 9,000 starts
this year across Houston, up from nearly 8,000 last year.3) Expect more rural land sales:
Rural land prices increased 3%
across Texas in 2011 and initial reports show similar data for 2012. But volumes
are tepid, with one-third
the number of sales compared to '05. Mike expects this year will see above-average increases
in both pricing and transactions.
Lincoln Property Nears Energy Crossing 2 Milestone
Lincoln Property Company SVP Kevin Wyatt
tells us Energy Crossing 2 is now 65% leased
and has strong commitments
for the remaining space. The project, which will be eight stories and 327k SF
, is now three stories out of the ground with completion scheduled for late this year. That's par for the course for one of the largest
privately held full-service real estate firms
in the US, managing 125M SF
for a variety of third-party clients. Kevin says the West Houston market is on fire
, and he is very busy there keeping up with the leasing demand. Although Energy Crossing 2 and seemingly the entire West Houston market are full, don't worry: Lincoln is working on additional projects
for other institutional clients, including Park 10 Center, a 300k SF value office project. For more info on our sponsor, click here
Sam Houston Hotel Re-launches
Renovations are wrapping up at the newly renamed Sam Houston Hotel
. The name is a return to history: The building opened its doors as the Sam Houston Hotel in 1924
, but it was operating as the Alden Hotel when American Liberty Hospitality bought it last year. General manager Nick Massad Jr
. (showing off the sleek new TV/desk setup in the bedrooms) tells us the firm loves the Downtown
market and wanted to be a part of its growth. The hotel had closed in the mid-'70s and underwent massive renovations when it reopened in '02, so current changes are mostly aesthetic freshening.
Renovations began in January and wrap up this month
; when we stopped by last week, work had just begun on the last floor
. Nick tells us the rebranding and refurb both aim to embrace Houston's culture and history
. Design by Portfolio for Hospitality
aimed for modern Texas hospitality through features like the cow print and paisley we found in the hallways. The process is also adding three rooms
to the hotel, bringing it to an even 100. Nick tells us American Liberty has three or four projects in its local development pipeline
. Might we see another Downtown hotel from them?
Our work fascinates us. We can sit and stare at it for hours. Email thoughts to Catie Dixon, email@example.com.