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January 6, 2010 

Yesterday, CREW Houston’s first 2010 meeting at the Junior League stirred up fervor, as Rice professor Stephen Klineberg told of Houston’s fundamental transformation (and we don’t mean the Texans’ winning season). But to keep up globally, he says we have to continue changing. What, you thought this would be easy?
CREW's Elaine Howard and Rice professor Stephen Klineberg

Stephen, here with CREW outgoing programs chair Elaine Howard, created the Houston Area Survey in ’82. Its scope makes spotting trends easier and leads him to stress that land and location are no longer the sources of Houston’s wealth; now, knowledge is money. To compete, he says, we must revitalize downtown to attract the best minds, and city appeal is an issue for the first time since before the oil boom. Eg, Stephen asked his out-of-state students if they chose to attend Rice because of, or despite, its location; 70% say despite. (Our Rice-grad reporter promises she’s in the minority.)

Stephen Klineberg

Stephen emphasized (with the help of his Christmas present, a green laser pointer) the significance of recent demographic changes in Houston: higher education is increasingly necessary, but the majority of residents (especially youngsters) are underprivileged minorities. 81% of children in HISD are black or Hispanic, but only 17% of black adults and only 8% of Hispanics have a college degree. (48% of Latino adults lack a high school education.) Stephen’s next survey comes out in February; he says we can expect Anglos to be an even smaller percentage of Houston’s population (currently 36%).

new CREW prez Jennifer Raymond (Indermuehle) and her predecessor, Kathleen Margolis

CREW leaders past and present: new prez Jennifer Raymond (the lovely brunette is Indermuehle's VP of brokerage) and predecessor Kathleen Margolis, of FKP Architects. Jennifer is on the right, for those who can't tell brunette from beige. She reports surprisingly few nerves, considering the big crowd of 180 at her first big speech.

La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa

Noble House, selected in November by owner French Quarter Hospitality VIII to manage the $130M, 470k SF/170-acre La Torretta Lake Resort on Lake Conroe, has renovation in mind: re-branding the 17k SF spa to SpaTerre, plus offering unique services like Sacred Stone Massage with music written for its use. Noble House owns or manages 14 facilities in six states. CEO Jake Donoghue says the Montgomery location is ideal because it provides a “multi-faceted, vibrant, and upscale” environment with proximity to metropolitan amenities (especially the airport).

chef Albert Roux

La Torretta also boasts Chez Roux, the first stand-alone restaurant in America for world-famous chef Albert Roux. It’s raising the bar on food and beverage offerings, an initiative that formally began last month with the hiring of Nancy Paliani as director of food and beverage. It has one of the only induction kitchens in the US, which is environmentally friendly. Another reason to visit: Albert‘s homemade champagne, not available in the US, is served here.


Northwest One

Houston is attracting out-of-state buyers again: Transwestern’s Leah Gallagher and Rudy Hubbard sold Northwest One to California-based Fausset Neely for $40 PSF. (We wonder if Fausset just wanted a mirror that would allow all 100 investors to primp at once.) The 127k SF office building at 13100 Northwest Fwy was 44% occupied at time of sale, about where it was when the sellers, RPD Catalyst, bought it in ’06. (Major tenants include IFCO Systems and Independence Bank.) Rudy and Leah closed two deals in December and are marketing Two Sugar Creek (office) and Cypress Station Square (retail) for sale. Prices are below replacement cost, Rudy adds, which helps explain why Fausset made this their first Houston property since ’97.

Send story ideas to Catie Brubaker, catie@bisnow.com
Reznick (Building)
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