Up Close with Joe McCluan
Joe McCluan is making sure Houston's iconic Class-B office buildings don't fall by the wayside. The Cameron Management director of leasing is giving Esperson and 1001 McKinney a new look and giving Class-A buildings a run for their money.
Joe’s a Pittsburgh native whose wife Annie convinced him to move to Houston in 1969—he says the city was so new and vibrant then, he immediately fell in love with it and told himself “if I can’t make a living here, I might as well go fishing.” It's impossible to touch on everything Joe’s done in his career: starting with land sales, kicking off Hines’ spec warehouse development business and building and leasing more than 1M SF there in four years, and eventually settling into office leasing. One of his all-time favorite projects was his first office assignment, leasing up Dresser Tower (now KBR Tower) in Cullen Center. Working with Cullen Center president Al Keller, Joe got it full one year ahead of schedule.
Joe’s also well-known for his 15 years with David Kelley and his efforts at Greenspoint Plaza. Joe took on the 2.1M SF assignment when it was barely 80% full, and leased it up to 99% occupancy thanks to big deals with Exxon, Shell and Anadarko. He says it was a particularly fun assignment working for the GM Pension Fund, and he exceeded everyone’s expectations on rent and income. Working for David inadvertently led to Joe’s current gig—Joe ran into his former Hines colleague Dougal Cameron at David’s retirement party, and next thing he knew, he was leasing Cameron Management’s properties.
When Joe started at Cameron, 1001 McKinney (375k SF) was 78% leased, and Esperson (600k SF) was 40% occupied. The firm is putting serious dollars into modernizing both—Esperson has a $20M upgrade underway, and McKinney just began a $3M renovation. It’s paying off; pending leases will bring McKinney to over 90%, and Esperson is 68% full. Joe says the Class-B-plus market is very strong in Downtown now, and law and oil and gas firms are particularly active in his properties. They like the bottom line (40% rent discount compared to nearby Class-A properties), and his lease sizes are increasing; 10 years ago, both properties were marketed primarily to small tenants, but now many deals top 20k SF. Pictured, Joe shows off an open, modern office in the historic Esperson Buildings.
Back on the homestead, Joe’s wrapped around the finger of his granddaughter, 7-year-old Marie Claire. He loves politics, following it closely at both the federal and state level, and he’s an avid (although not very talented) golfer. He says he’d love to play Pebble Beach and go to Augusta for the Masters. He and Annie have a summer house on the coast of Maine, and the two plan to travel more, with Alaska, wine country, Italy and Greece on their wish list. But he’s got goals close to home, too—he says he wants to give back more, especially by mentoring at-risk children.