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January 15, 2010 

We don’t see many entirely General Services Administration leases this far south, but this week the Houston and Dallas offices of HFF made it happen, arranging a financial JV for a 69k SF border control facility in McAllen.
HFF analyst Trent Agnew and senior managing director Danny Miller

We met with analyst Trent Agnew and senior managing director Danny Miller, who tell us they typically arrange outright sales, but in this case arranged a refinancing so the owner, McAllen Customs Border Patrol, could keep the property. (Besides wanting to maintain management, McAllen owns contiguous land, and if GSA expands, McAllen wants to that contract, too.) The building is new, with processing, admin, emergency HQ, and a maintenance facility for CBP vehicles. Danny tells us finding investors wasn’t hard—GSA has 95% renewability: some of “the best credit you can have.”

The facility has updated capabilities (eg, it’s bomb-resistant) and more space (accommodating 350 agents) than old properties, and is situated between the new and old international bridges to Mexico. Danny and Trent describe it as “location-driven and mission-specific,” (which we think means border control doesn't shop much for space in Milwaukee or Poughkeepsie). They say it’s a modern prototype for border control facilities. Direct that praise to designer TAG International, developers Live Oak-Gattesman and FD Partners, and Harvey-Cleary Builders. If the deal earns Trent and Danny a break, they say we'll find them fishing, golfing, and hunting.


Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Jones speaking to the Houston Realty Business Coalition

We may have found Danny and Trent a friend: Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Jones (speaking to the Houston Realty Business Coalition yesterday) claims she can “outshoot, outride, and outhunt any member of Texas government today.” More on topic, Elizabeth says sales tax collection is down 18% in Houston, worse than the 11.6% state average. As overseer of the oil and gas industry (among others, including mining), she sees cap and trade as a threat to prosperity, and says it will send companies overseas, causing further job loss. She’s confident in our ability to produce cleaner oil and gas, starting with the fact that Harris County has more geologists than anywhere else in the world.

CREN prez Wayne Landin and HRBC prez David Dominy

Leadership flocks together: CREN prez Wayne Landin and HRBC prez David Dominy. HRBC, founded in ’67 as the Houston Realty Breakfast Club, is a registered PAC and has over 275 members.

NAWIC treasurer Debbie Moyer and prez Terry Johnson

There’s profit in selecting employees diverse in experience and perspective. If that was a secret, now everyone in the National Association of Women In Construction knows, after executive coach Kim Sawyer headlined its meeting Tuesday at the Briar Club. We snapped treasurer Debbie Moyer and prez Terry Johnson eager to apply their lessons. Kim stressed his definition of diversity isn’t limited to multiculturalism or compliance to fill quotas. When applied, it will improve teamwork, marketing, innovation, and understanding of customers’ wants.

Cadence McShane Construction’s Sandy Fields (former NAWIC prez) and Curry’s Brenda Gaboury

Cadence McShane Construction’s Sandy Fields (former NAWIC prez) and Curry’s Brenda Gaboury. Brenda, a NAWIC member since ’93, inherited her mechanical contractor firm from her parents, who founded it in ‘63. She thinks this recession is worse than the 80’s because of uncertainty about what the government will do. Sandy was a custom home builder in Corpus Christi before becoming office manager at Cadence McShane. Right now, she’s bombarded by bids (including one on Wednesday).


The ladies preparing for Block Kids 2010, a competition encouraging kids to get interested in construction. Each fifth-grader gets 100 blocks and one hour to create a building. They can use three other materials (eg, rocks, aluminum foil), and the winner gets a savings bond and advances to the next level. This year’s event is Feb. 6 at Schultz Elementary. If it's anything like elementary school basketball games, professional talent scouts will no doubt be on hand.

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