By Ralph Bivins
Hines is expanding the size of its skyscraper proposal for a major-scale office building on downtown Houston’s Main Street and it is considering constructing the tower on a spec basis.
The new project, destined to be one of Houston’s most notable buildings, will be what some in the real estate industry have been calling “Class AA.”
Earlier this year, Hines confirmed that it was planning to build the 41-story tower with 815,000 sf of space at 609 Main Street. But the project is now planned to be a much larger building with high-grade amenities.
“Because of demand, the building’s size is expected to grow from the initial 815,000 sf concept,” said John Mooz, senior managing director in Hines’ Southwest Regional Office.
The height and size of the building won’t be finalized until the fourth quarter of this year when design of the tower will be finished, Mooz said. Pickard Chilton, based in New Haven, Conn., is designing the skyscraper.
The new Hines building will be located at the southeast corner of Main and Texas Avenue, catty-cornered from the Rice Lofts, a redevelopment of the historic Rice Hotel. The Hines site is only one block away from the tallest building in Texas – the 75-story JP Morgan Chase Tower, which Hines completed in 1982.
Hines has not ruled out the possibility that the new building could surpass the 75-story JP Morgan Chase Tower in height, although many would be surprised at that announcement.
Hines is expected to break ground before Houston’s other proposed skyscrapers: the Market Square area building by Linbeck/Essex/Stream; the Skanska project at 811 Rusk; or the proposed Chevron building at 1600 Louisiana.
“We are moving full speed ahead on design and expect to break ground first quarter of 2014,” Mooz said.
Mooz said no tenant has been signed. Hines is believed to be considering going forward with this building as a spec project, although Mooz did not confirm it.
A short distance from the Block 69 site, Hines completed the BG Group Place tower in 2011 and that building is now over 96 percent leased.
The strong leasing at BG Group Place could encourage Hines to start the 609 Main Street tower on a speculative basis.
Developers are moving ahead with downtown office proposals because the Houston office market is exceptional tight – with vacancies near record-lows. Class A space in downtown had a low vacancy rate of 7.6 percent, according to CBRE’s first quarter report.