Uptown Counters Thought That Houston Is Struggling
National headlines have not been kind to Houston. If you believe the rumors, our bank accounts and office buildings are empty. If outsiders drove the stretch of 610 between 59 and I-10, they might think differently. To hear more about the State of the Market in Houston, grab your ticket to Bisnow’s event on June 16.
The Galleria is bulletproof, says Avison Young principal Rand Stephens (above). It’s hard to fathom how such a large area sustains so much luxury until you look at the stats. By 2019, the area projects a population of 180,000 with an average household income on the north side of $110k and a median home value close to $500k.
In an area synonymous with luxury, you’d think things would be getting tighter with the price of oil so low. Financing new construction around the city has been difficult, but not in the Galleria. A new luxury high-rise and condos are planned for the area. O'Donnell/Snider co-president Randy O’Donnell, a panelist at Bisnow’s upcoming event, hasn’t seen luxury slow down in Houston. In fact, his firm just built McLaren’s first Houston dealership (pictured).
Much of Ilene Dewaji’s work at Stewart Title has been focused in Uptown. The area has delivered a slew of new luxury developments in recent months like BHP Biliton Tower, Arabella and River Oaks District. The area's pipeline is still full with the mixed-use development The Post Oak and major renovations at The Galleria and One Riverway.
But cracks may be beginning to appear in Uptown. Air Liquide just left the area for a new complex in The Energy Corridor. The biggest issue the Galleria faces is its age. Buildings in the area are, on average, 30 years old. Newer developments in other areas have attracted a large number of tenants.
Many businesses simply aren’t willing to put up with the traffic. The stretch on I-10 between I-10 and 59 is notorious for gridlock. The 610 Loop at the Galleria was ranked the second-most-congested spot in the state, where drivers lose a total of 971,985 hours per year waiting in traffic. Plans to fix the black hole of traffic are underway. TxDOT proposed some radical new traffic easement measures, such as raising express lanes in the center of the 610 Loop from I-10 to 59 for nearly four miles.
Plans for the Bus Rapid Transit project along Post Oak Boulevard are underway despite protest from affected businesses. The project would build a dedicated bus lane in the middle of Post Oak, enticing commuters who work in the area to use Park ‘n Rides or travel on existing bus lines. Many see the venture by Metro, the Uptown TIRZ and the City of Houston as a failure of government. Critics say the plan has been rushed, opaque, and unnecessary as it doesn’t address the area's true issues, like traffic on Westheimer.
But in the end, traffic woes have done little to slow growth in the area. For the time being, Uptown remains the counterweight to Houston’s naysayers. Learn more about Houston's strongest and weakest points at Bisnow's State of the Market event June 16. Sign up here.