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January 19, 2010 

If you're near Dallas next week, please join the over 400 already signed up for our first ever Dallas Happy Hour & Schmooze. You won't want to miss this premiere gathering of the area's finest in real estate. Jan. 286-8pm, Preston Center. Free drinks and hors d'oeuvres, if you sign up now!

In the next 40 years, West Houston (defined as the 1k square miles between Gessner and Brookshire) will gain 1M people and double its developed land area, according to West Houston Association prez Roger Hord, who spoke at CCIM’s January luncheon last week. Relax, southeast Houston. You’ve still got NASA.
West Houston Association president Roger Hord and CCIM prez Suzanne Page-Pryde

We interrupted Roger’s lunch (just the greens) to snap him with CCIM prez Suzanne Page-Pryde. He tells us W Houston has its own “urban core” (including the Energy Corridor, Westchase District, and Memorial City) and suburbs (Katy, Waller, Fairfield, etc) and currently has 1M residents. (Experts peg all of Houston at 8M by 2035.) Energy and engineering drive it, but the medical sector is growing: hospitals are choosing areas along I-10, instead of in the Med Center, because of increased accessibility. The region has 30M SF of office space, and Roger reminds us its Katy Freeway and the Energy Corridor were the only areas to see positive absorption in ’09.

We’re not adequately maintaining current infrastructure, says Roger (he predicts upkeep will cost $13B between now and 2050), nor are we ready for future expansion. So what’s the solution? Good thing you (well, we) asked. Transportation: Roger thinks 290 should be a priority, but only $350M has been allocated so far. (The 610 interchange alone costs $700M.) The Grand Parkway is clear to go, but a lawsuit by the Sierra Club has tied it up. Of numerous projects planned, he says only commuter rail is likely.

Red Mango's Denise Randle and Deb Guindi

If you haven’t tasted Red Mango, you will soon. The frozen yogurt store (the first to have certified live yogurt cultures) opened its first Houston location on Friday in the Market Street center in The Woodlands. The 1700 SF facility is the first of three stores for franchisees Jay and Denise Randle and Deb Guindi. (Denise is Jay’s wife, Deb is his sister.) Paradigm’s Bill Farris, who represents three franchisees for site selection in the Houston area, tells us to look for 16 stores in the next three to five years. A 1k SF location opens in Rice Village in February. Bill tells us 70% of Red Mango clients are women between the ages of 26-45, with mean income of $67k, which he keeps in mind when searching for sites.

Scott Ziegler, senior principal at Ziegler Cooper Architects, shows off an image of Gables Memorial Hills

Scott Ziegler, senior principal at Ziegler Cooper Architects, shows off an image of Gables Memorial Hills, owned/managed by Gables Residential. The project won the mid-rise Design Excellence Award by Multi-Housing News. The 8-story building contains 309 units and a uniquely-designed wall that undulates down to the bayou below. Scott tells us the property’s amenities—eg, cyber café, outdoor kitchen with firepit, and concierge services—helped earn the award. The complex was designed with young adults in mind. That doesn’t mean it’s backing Conan O’Brien. Rather, it's along Buffalo Bayou Park between the Galleria and downtown; it has mostly one-bedroom setups; and it has iPod dockings in every room.

2727 Kirby

Ziegler Cooper also designed 2727 Kirby, a 30-story apartment complex in River Oaks. Scott calls it part of a microvillage because it’s so close to retail and office space and is mixed-use (including two bars). He believes suburban sprawl is wasteful of land, time, and resources, preferring microvillages where people can live, work, and relax in one place (CityCentre is an example). In ‘08, Scott designed an apartment complex with retail and restaurants for Rice Village, but it fell victim to the credit crunch. He believes it will be revived with the economy, and that similar setups will increase in popularity. If that makes Ziegler Cooper a little busier, it’ll have help: It recently merged with Burwell Architects.

Send story ideas to Catie Brubaker, catie@bisnow.com
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