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January 18, 2011 
Cassidy (Big News) HOU

Congrats to our friends at Tarantino Properties, an experienced leasing and management firm. They just renewed Kroger in Angleton, Texas. Eric Drymalla repped Tarantino in the lease.


According to Stewart Title chief economist Ted Jones, “this is the time to overweight your portfolio in real estate, both residential and commercial.” (We know you knew that, but it’s a handy quote to share with potential buyers.)

Ted Jones

We ran into Ted at IREM’s first meeting of the year at Maggiano’s (offering lasagna always brings in a high-caliber crowd). Unfortunately, the rest of Ted’s comments weren’t as positive. After a 1.37% loss in jobs over the past decade, the US will have to create 14M jobs to return to 2000 levels. The silver lining: Texas gained 10.7% in that span. That and our status as the 13th best business tax environment in the US should be attractive to companies. However, Dow Chemical told him they didn’t relocate a plant here because of property taxes. Ted’s eye is also on federal debt: If one-year rates rise to 1%, annual interest payments on federal debt will triple to $1.23T. If debt doubles as projected, annual interest payments rise to $2.46T.

Brookfield 11.11 Mini
Ted Jones speaks for IREM

Ted shared stats on property value loss. Nationwide, properties bought in ‘07 are now valued 32% lower in the retail sector, 38% less for office assets, 41% for industrial, and 23% for multifamily. Going forward? He believes current mortgage rates are the lowest they’ll be in his lifespan and gas will hit $5 a gallon in the next 36 to 48 months because the value of money is decreasing as we’re borrowing to fund the deficit. Interest rates will go up, and Houston will see 1.2% job growth this year. He projects commercial sales in 2011 at $120B, more than double 2009 ($54.4B). So get out there and prove him right.

Jim Parsons at Market Square Park

2011 is Houston’s 175th birthday (but it doesn’t look a day over 125), and the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance is celebrating by hosting tours of historic sites around town. Stop number one was Market Square Park, the original heart of the city. We snapped guide Jim Parsons explaining that the Allen Brothers set aside the site to be the capital of the Republic of Texas. The capitol ended up at the Rice Hotel site instead, but Market Square was the center of Houston’s commercial and municipal activities. The first building on the site was erected in 1841. It was a simple shed with stalls for the merchants who set up there, and a second floor housed city hall.

Jim Parsons in front of Treebeards

Jim in front of Treebeards, built in 1861 as the Baker Travis Building. In 1872, a fancy new city hall was built by contractor buddies of Mayor Scanlan. It contained an opera house, two towers, market, and municipal offices but was missing important features like a staircase between floors. By the time everything was fixed, it cost $470k, a fortune at the time, and the citizens called it “our white elephant.” It burned down three years later, and in 1877 the third city hall was built there. All three structures used the same foundation and some of the old walls: The current Market Square Park has a granite line showing that foundation, and the sculpture and Niko’s kiosk sit on the site of the two towers. In the 1920s, the market moved out, and city hall moved to Bagby in 1939. The site became a park in 1977, and the live oaks are from that original park.

Clock Tower

The clock tower on the corner of Travis and Congress houses the 1904 clock and the 1877 bell. The bell weighs 2,800 lbs, and the clock needs to be wound every eight days. The City stored it in UH Downtown for years, but when they got the funding to build the new tower, the clock was nowhere to be found. It was eventually found touring county fairs as the world’s largest mantle clock and brought home. One last fun fact: Across from Market Square Park on Congress is La Carafe, believed to be Houston’s oldest intact commercial building still on its original site. It was built in 1861 and is 15’ wide, the width of original lots in the area. It was built by John Kennedy who owned numerous buildings on the block. (He would later become president . . . of the Elks. Or not. We don't know. But it wasn't the US. That was a different Kennedy.)

We already snapped up rodeo tickets for Zac Brown Band, Gary Allan, and KISS. How many of you will we run into? E-mail Catie Brubaker, catie@bisnow.com.
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