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Real Estate Bisnow (HOU)

13 Biggest Deals of 2013

It's been a boom year in Houston, which means a heckuva lot has happened. (Which means the sales of cigars and champagne have gone through the roof.) We looked back through 2013 for the biggest deals and most significant developments across sectors.

1. Pinto Business Park

Pinto Business Park--the largest contiguous undeveloped land tract inside Beltway 8 and outside the 500-year floodplain--broke ground this year. Three industrial buildings have launched, including a 600k SF cross-dock building that's 83% pre-leased to HD Supply. (Also of note: That's one of the biggest industrial leases of the year.) Hines is developing the park with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and Pinto Real Estate Development; director Charlie Meyer tells us the park should benefit from strong industrial absorption in 2014, including several million SF of relocations and expansions from distribution companies. Since this picture was taken around Thanksgiving, the team has erected the first tiltwall panels. (Now it doesn't look like a cool place to ride dirt bikes anymore, but, hey, that's progress for you.)

2. Frontier Logistics

Frontier Logistics pre-leased 600k SF, taking down the entire 225 RailPort development. That's the largest industrial pre-lease of 2013 to break ground. We snapped Cassidy Turley's John Nicholson and Nathan Wynn when they announced the deal back in October; the duo repped the tenant. Avera is developing the property, which will deliver in Q3 '14.

3. ConocoPhillips

ConocoPhillips was on a roll this year: It inked the largest pre-lease of the year (1.2M SF for Energy Center Three and Four—rendered above and developed by Trammell Crow) and renewed 242k SF at Three Westlake. (They've been shaking so many hands they'll need to ice down their wrists over the holidays.) That's a combination of growth from existing Houston operations and also relocating employees from other ConocoPhillips offices around the US. Stream Realty's Adam Jackson and Ryan Bishop repped landlord Interventure Advisors in the Three Westlake deal; the firm's been there over a decade. CBRE's Sanford Criner, Steve Hesse, and Brandon Clarke repped ConocoPhillips.

4. Exxon

We feel like we heard Exxon mentioned 362 days out of the past year. (Those other three, we locked ourselves in a closet.) As construction continues on its 3M SF campus in Springwoods Village, developers and end users are flocking to the North Houston/Woodlands area to be close to the energy giant and its 10,000-plus employees. And then two weeks ago, Exxon shocked us by pre-leasing 500k SF in two office buildings in Hughes Landing. (Seriously, how much space does it need?)

5. Grocers Go Nuts

Retail was the last shoe to drop in Houston's improvement, and development was nearly nonexistent in 2013. But grocers were on fire (as far as we know, not a single store took this literally), with about 20 new grocery stores opening this year. That includes the entrance of several specialty and value grocers: Trader Joe's (whose move into the old Alabama Theater—above--was a significant deal), Sprouts (backfilling old Rice Epicurean stores), Fresh Market, and Aldi all opened their first stores this year. And of course HEB, Kroger, Walmart, and Whole Foods raced to build out market share.

6. Cousins Buys Greenway Plaza

At 4.4M SF, Cousins Properties' purchase of Greenway Plaza in September was one of the biggest Houston commercial real estate transactions in years. Understandably, the $950M acquisition was also the largest in Cousins' history. Oh and let's not forget the firm also purchased Post Oak Central for $234M in February. It now has as big a footprint here as in its HQ of Atlanta, and we wouldn't be surprised to see it continue to make a big mark across Texas next year.

7. 3009 Post Oak Sells... and then Delivers

3009 Post Oak and 2200 Post Oak delivering this year was major news in and of itself—they were the first office towers built in the Galleria in nearly three decades. Both snapped up major leases before delivering, but 3009 Post Oak took it a step further. Shortly before Skanska finished developing the 302k SF tower, it announced an anchor lease to alliantgroup, bringing it to 92% occupied. A few weeks later, that firm closed on its acquisition of the tower. Icing on the cake for 3009 Post Oak: It's the first LEED Platinum building in the Galleria.

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A Bisnow Education Video!

We're often asked after our events, what's a cap rate, a 1031 exchange, a REIT, mezz debt, NOI, CMBS, loan-to-value, "core," etc. Well, we're the wrong people to ask, because we don't know either. BUT, we know someone who does! So we made a video. It's 90 minutes, broken into 19 different 5-minute segments on these different issues. Never be intimidated again! And dazzle the world with your use of highfalutin' acronyms.

Peter Linneman is really smart. He started the Wharton School's Real Estate Department, and he's been Chairman of Rockefeller Center Properties, and on the Executive Committee of Equity Office Properties. He's widely considered the top real estate professor in the United States. So try out the trailer above. And if you like it, for $59 you can stream it as much as you like. And you, too, can get really smart. More info and purchase.

Can you guess which deals will be included in our second installment? Email Catie Dixon, catie@bisnow.com. And look for Part Two on Friday!

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