The Future of Westchase
Will the next wave of construction in Westchase be redevelopment? Will it go mixed-use, or will we see the continued trend of corporate campuses? (Will we ever truly fall in love? Who will die on Game of Thrones?) Experts at Bisnow’s Future of Westchase yesterday peeked into the crystal ball.
Granite Properties executive managing director Scott Martin would love to see Westchase become more urban and walkable, with more quality apartments. He says the environment could use a shot of excitement (might we suggest unscheduled fireworks shows?), and the District’s new 380 program could help the submarket get there. He’s working on another potential development in Westchase (it’d be similar to Granite Briarpark Green, which hosted our event). But his team has decided it needs to start by Q1 ’15 and lease up by 2016, because he’s just not certain what the market holds after next year.
But Cassidy Turley managing director Eric Siegrist (right, with Paradigm Tax Services’ Chris Daugherty and TIER REIT’s Kmeal Winters) says some tenants don’t want the distraction of shops and bars that come with mixed-use development. He likes Westchase’s reputation as ultra-corporate and pristine. (He does think Westchase could focus on adding more hotels, because office users love having those nearby.) Eric’s evidence that users love things the way they are: Class-AA rents are over $300/SF net, rivaling some of the best Downtown buildings. (Want to be successful like Eric? He says his survival training in the Air Force prepared him for real estate.)
Avison Young managing director Rand Stephens says the big trend now is campuses, and he expects to see more announcements like Phillips 66’s over the next few years. He says large companies want control of their environment (it's a lot easier to organize company picnics), and financing for investment-grade users is so cheap that now that it’s an ideal time for users to build.
PMRG EVP/director of leasing John Spafford says it’s time for Westchase to focus on redeveloping underutilized tracts. His firm is helping develop Westchase Park, which is a prime example; it’s on the tract of the old Tinseltown. Office users have shown they want the highest-quality space: 83% of the 5.1M SF absorbed in Houston last year was Class-A. That’s pushing incredible rent growth (doubling and tripling in a short time) and incentivizing buildings to improve and get in on the game. (Somebody does something cool, everyone wants in. High school never ends.)
We were glad to run into CBRE’s Kristen Rabel (here, right, with Collum Commercial’s Joan Collum), who was just named HOLBA’s landlord broker of the year. She’s focusing on pre-leasing two developments for D’Agostino Cos now—the Offices at Sam Houston (113k SF available) and Greenhouse at Park Row (22k SF already spoken for and 92k SF available).
Our sponsor Hoar Construction’s Nathan Kolbaba and Scott Evans were looking dapper early in the morning. In Westchase, the firm built Granite Briarpark Green and Westchase Center 3 and 4. It’s also been extremely busy in the Energy Corridor, where it’s building Greenhouse Office Park now.
Pacific Consulting Group owner Jing Johnson creates high-quality 3D renderings for architects, developers, and property managers. Recently, she did work for Stena Energy, Noble Energy, Shell, and Energy Center 3, 4, and 5. It’s no wonder our sponsor is one of Houston’s fastest-growing HUB and WBE-certified graphics firms.