HOUSTON – Skanska USA says it’s just planning ahead. But over the weekend, the firm was preparing for the future in a very tangible way – by pouring 9,300 cubic yards of concrete for the foundation of its proposed Capitol Tower in downtown Houston.
Someday, the foundation will be used by Skanska for a 35-story, 750,000-square-foot office tower at 800 Capitol, between Milam and Travis streets.
But the construction won’t start without significant pre-leasing, Skanska says.
“We are very excited to accomplish another major milestone at Capitol Tower. The completion of the mat foundation reflects Skanska’s continued investment in Houston and the downtown market. We are actively pursuing potential tenants and hope to have a prelease soon to allow us to continue vertical construction of the tower,” said Michael Mair, executive vice president and regional manager of Skanska USA Commercial Development in Houston.
Hines is already under construction with a 1 million square foot spec building a couple of blocks away. And with oil prices falling sharply in recent weeks, the Skanska building may be on the back burner for a long time.
However, Skanska – with a very deep-pocketed parent company in Stockholm – has self-financed spec projects before. But it would be shocking to see Skanska to go vertical now in today’s market.
Downtown rental rates have risen significantly in recent years. Transwestern reports average Class A rates of $42.31 per square foot in downtown Houston in its August Market Watch.
Skanska and its concrete subcontractor Baker Concrete Construction, said the two-day concrete operation last weekend encompassed a mat foundation footprint of over 35,000 square feet and utilized 9,300 cubic yards of concrete and 2.4 million pounds of rebar.
One of only three buildings in the U.S. to receive LEED Platinum v4 precertification, Capitol Tower is advancing sustainable practices with the mat foundation. Sixty percent of the cement used in Capitol Tower’s mat foundation was replaced with fly ash, a safe, recycled industrial product that would have gone to a landfill. This method saves more than 1 million pounds of CO2, the equivalent emissions associated with driving a car 1.2 million miles.
Gensler is the architect for the project. Walter P. Moore is the structural engineer and Wylie Consulting Engineers is the mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineer.
Skanska USA Commercial Development, which launched in 2008, aims to meet the demands in its markets by offering tenants high quality and value to support their business needs and develop environments where they can thrive. The firm has roughly 60 employees active in Houston, Boston, Seattle and Washington DC with a corporate headquarters group in New York. Additional Houston area Skanska developments include West Memorial Place, a two-phase, 725,000 square-foot Class A office campus in the Energy Corridor; Spring Crossing, an 850,000 square-foot Class A phased, master-planned office development adjacent to the new ExxonMobil campus; and a completed Class A, 302,000 square-foot office building at 3009 Post Oak Blvd.