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Inside The Last New CBD Office Building On Houston's Near-Term Horizon

Houston Office

Skanska has delivered the only new office tower Houston will see this year or next with the completion of 1550 on the Green, a 28-story, 375K SF Class-A building adjacent to Discovery Green at 1550 Lamar St.

1550 on the Green

The office building is opening during a challenging time in Houston’s office market as vacancy hovers around 22%. But with most of that vacancy concentrated in obsolete vintage office product and about a third of the building pre-leased, developers are confident in 1550 on the Green’s appeal. 

“We designed the entire building during Covid and started building at the end of Covid,” Matt Damborsky, executive vice president and regional manager for Skanska USA Commercial Development’s Houston region, told Bisnow. “It was probably one of the only designs and starts during that time. It was a very interesting time.” 

The timing of the building's June 2021 groundbreaking allowed developers to consider trends like flight to quality, which were heightened by the pandemic, Damborsky said. 

Bisnow/Maddy McCarty

1550 on the Green’s anchor tenant is Norton Rose Fulbright, a global law firm with more than 3,000 lawyers, which will take six floors. Norton Rose Fulbright currently offices in 3 Houston Center, previously known as Fulbright Tower

The building is 32% pre-leased, with more deals in the works, Damborsky said. Now that the building is completed and people can lay eyes on it, leasing activity should get a boost, he said.

Office product built since 2010 have a much lower vacancy rate, 11.3%, than the Houston market as a whole, according to Avison Young data from October.

1550 on the Green's amenities include three outdoor terraces with one exclusively for Norton Rose Fulbright, a fitness center, extensive natural light, numerous security measures and a distributed antenna system that ensures cell service throughout the building and parking garage. 

The development has earned three sustainability certifications, including LEED Platinum, according to a news release. A cistern in the basement will collect rainwater for reuse in the building. 

1550 on the Green is part of Skanska's three-block master plan and was designed by architects with the Bjarke Ingels Group, with interiors by Micheal Hsu. Skanska plans to eventually develop the neighboring lots, Damborsky said. 

The tower is built on the last empty lot bordering Discovery Green, the 12-acre public park that sees more than 1 million visitors annually. 

Proximity to the park was a major influence on the building’s design, said Jenna Dezinski, senior designer and project lead for BIG. Rather than a traditional central-core design, the long and narrow shape of 1550’s lot lent itself well to a side-core design, she said. 

This means the building curves partway around the core, where elevators, bathrooms and mechanical rooms are situated, rather than encasing it, Dezinski said. The design allows more daylight to enter the offices' 28 floors, she said.  

“Because the park is right here, every office floor has an amazing view,” she said. 

1550 on the Green was the largest office project under construction in the Houston metro, leaving just 167K SF in the construction pipeline, according to CBRE data.

However, Midway plans to break ground on the 320K SF CityCentre Six next quarter. A confidential tenant has signed a lease for 65% of that building, and completion is slated for 2026.