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Kickin' It in Houston

Dallas-Fort Worth
Kickin' It in Houston
Nothing says summer like a road trip, so we  decided to drive  down to H-Town for a tour. On a stop by Williams Tower in the Galleria, we talked with CBRE managing director Mark Taylor who tells us that industrial's leading the way.
CBRE managing director Mark Taylor
Houston's industrial market hit 93% occupancy with positive absorption of 1.6M SF in Q2, Mark notes. Retail's picking up, with national chains starting to look around town for limited expansion opportunities. (Notice, he didn't mention the office market. There's a reason for that.)
Kickin' It in Houston
CBRE institutional group EVP Russell Ingrum tells us investment sales of office buildings are picking up. He's marketing 919 Milam(above), an 80% occupied, 500k SF, Class A building in the CBD. The distressed property was acquired by PNC Bank from a borrower. Russell conducted an informal survey in January asking brokers if they were working for lenders—none were. Now, everyone has one to three assignments from lenders, he says. “It's not a flood, but definitely active."
CBRE institutional group EVP Russell Ingrum
Look familiar? Russell worked in Dallas for 15 years before moving to the Houston market. Brace yourself, he says they're very alike: Both have roughly 200M SF and are similarly oriented. Dallas is a north-south market and Houston is an east-west market, and most of the institutional tenants focus is on these narrow corridors, he tells us. Each have pure commodity, price-driven space, and they're some of the most beautiful real estate markets in the US. The biggest differences? Houston's  economy is energy- driven and Dallas' is more diversified. Also, he says a typical lease in Dallas is 20k SF, whereas its not unusual in Houston to do a 500k-700k SF lease.
Hine's MainPlace construction
We snapped Hines' MainPlace  construction (on the left) at 811 Main St. Our Houston reporter  tells us the 46-story, 972k SF office tower topped out in early June and is scheduled to open in January. Designed by Pickard Chilton, it's pre-certified LEED Silver and DE Harvey Builders is one month ahead of schedule. The tower's top four floors have been pre-leased to KPMG. We're looking forward to a grand opening shindig (assuming our invitation is in the mail) on the 39th-floor sky garden, which will be recessed into the building's form, revealing planted terraces and a five-story  crystalline atrium.
Hotel ICON and VOICE executive chef Greg Lowry
On the job for less than two months, Hotel ICON's new executive chef for Voice  restaurant and lounge, Greg Lowry, made himself at home. (We love the boots.) We figured we'd scope out the new menu at the historic-bank-building-turned-luxury-hotel across the street from the Market  Square Park revitalization project. Greg tells us he's blending the down-home Texas hospitality with the cosmopolitan atmosphere. Just launched, Voice features four smaller or two larger portions of appetizers, or small soup and entrées, allowing guests to sample everything for less than $30. He's also going to have a five- and seven-course tasting menu to make the restaurant more approachable and consumer friendly. And on Wedensday nights? $1 martinis. Now, he's speaking our language.