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January 11, 2011 
 
 
BRAGGING RIGHTS

Already 200 RSVP'd for the Future of Fort Bend County. Don't miss out—a little more than two weeks left until our all-star panel dives into the area's hottest RE issues. Sign up today!

 

All together now: “We’re number four!” It may not sound exciting, but in the last quarter of 2010, we absorbed enough space to edge out Los Angeles for fourth-lowest vacancy in the US. (Did Lindsay Lohan leaving prison put us over the edge?)

 
HFF's Danny Miller and Transwestern's Brandi McDonald

We learned that stat from Transwestern’s Brandi McDonald, above, with co-speaker HFF’s Danny Miller at CREW’s first luncheon of the year. Brandi says “we’re healthier than we feel” in the office sector. She says an important factor in today’s market is big blocks of space. Smaller tenants have lots of options and can play landlords against each other and get lower rents. In submarkets with many open big blocks (that's anything over 50k SF of contiguous space), large tenants can do the same. (The CBD has 14 big blocks; West Loop, five; the Energy Cooridor, 13; and Greenspoint just one.) According to Danny, we can look for rising interest rates this year. Volume will depend on rental rates, he says—we need them to rise enough to keep up values. His eye is on the Energy Corridor and CBD, which may experience sudden large changes in rates and vacancy because users there are so large.

 
Brookfield (Blue) - mini
 
Transwestern's Brandi McDonald, Crescent's Debbie Wilson, and HFF's Danny Miller

Rounding out the panel was Crescent’s Debbie Wilson, who says the basic fundamentals of being a landlord don’t change: You want your building full and will do whatever you can to keep quality tenants regardless of economic situation. The last five years have been a big learning curve for landlords, though. She says tenants don’t just look at rent and TI packages anymore, but she sees a silver lining to tenants’ current desire for efficiency: modern, efficient, financially stable buildings will do well. This does mean landlords need to update older buildings and add neat amenities to compete.

M Lewter Associates' Mike Lewter and CBRE's Diann Lewter

We also ran into M. Lewter Associates’ Mike Lewter and better half CBRE’s Diann Lewter. Mike is doing construction management for the new Tootsie’s in West Ave, which will open this month. Diann jokes she has two full-time jobs (not including her leadership role in CREW); besides handling biz dev at CB, she’s starting her second year as chair of the board of the AIDS Foundation.


Bisnow
MEET OUR SPONSOR: SERVCORP
 
Williams Tower/Bank of America

Servcorp Houston team leader Kristin Ellis tells us the Australia-based company is an “IT company that just so happens to have office suites.” (Suites that just so happen to be in Williams Tower, left, and the Bank of America Center.) Kristin is joined in Williams by executive receptionist Tyeisha Castex and executive assistant Jessica Rios. In the BofA location, team leader Erin Ewald is joined by ER Lindsey Long and EA Aly Walas. The world’s second-largest provider of executive suites (it provides Class-A amenities from the receptionists to the office furniture to granite floors) and virtual offices. Basically, Kristin says, Servcorp helps its clients “promote their business and help their business grow—we’re kind of like the backbone of their business.” Find more info on Servcorp here, and check them out as a valued sponsor of Bisnow’s Future of Fort Bend County event on Jan. 27 (sign up now!).


Bisnow
WE'LL MISS THE SHIPLEY'S
 
Bruce Frankel and Cindy Young

Sometimes the best way to get stories from you CRE types is to trick you into it over lunch. Over enchiladas at Escalante’s with Frankel Development Group’s Bruce Frankel (the restaurant is a client of his) and Duplantis Design Group’s Cindy Young, we learned that Bruce just wrapped up a deal for Potbelly’s after two years of negotiations. The problem is the site (the current Shipley’s Donuts in West U). The West U commercial district ends there, and for the past 25 years, Shipley’s has had PNC (prior nonconforming) status. When the use of the site changed, it was supposed to convert to townhomes. Potbelly’s had to get the site rezoned (it took seven months)p to allow the commercial property. It’s going to tear down the building starting late spring. Look for the new 2,000 SF restaurant designed by Jerry Tipps to open in the fall.

 
It's cold outside! E-mail warm fuzzies to Catie Brubaker, catie@bisnow.com.
 
 
 
 
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