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United Airlines Centre: Coming Soon to Houston Skyline?

Ralph Bivins, Editor of  Realty News Report.

Commentary by Ralph Bivins, Editor of Realty News Report.

HOUSTON – While it’s under construction, Hines’ new building in downtown Houston has been called by its address: “609 Main at Texas.” But it’s been assumed that when a huge tenant comes along, the name of the tower will be a part of the lease deal.

A United Airlines spokeswoman stated last week that the airline will be a tenant in the Hines tower. United reportedly will lease 225,000 square feet in the 48-story, 1,050,000-square-foot office tower. Hines will complete construction of the tower in about a year.

In normal times, a 225,000-square-foot tenant might not get dibs on naming rights. But the Houston office market is under stress right now with the contraction in the oil industry. Vacancy rates have surged. United may have good timing.

Consumer companies pay millions for naming rights on stadiums and arenas. So United, which flew 140 million passengers last year, would probably consider it a nice marketing perk to have Houston’s newest skyscraper bearing the “United” brand name.

Doesn’t “United Airlines Centre” have a nice ring to it? Or maybe “United Airlines Plaza” or “United Airlines Tower”?

Hines declined to comment on the United situation.

At the corner of Main and Texas Ave., Hines is constructing a 48-story tower. Copyright photo by Ralph Bivins of Realty News Report.

At the corner of Main and Texas Ave., Hines is constructing a 48-story tower. Copyright photo by Ralph Bivins of Realty News Report.

The Kirkland & Ellis law firm is the only other signed tenant in the new Hines building. The law firm recently leased 62,000 feet – including the highly prized top two floors.

Speaking privately, a Hines executive has said working on the 609 Main building will be the pinnacle of his career as a developer. Destined to be a skyline landmark, the Hines building, being leased by Colvill Office Properties, is considered a Class AA project that will be rated LEED Platinum. It will have rooftop gardens and under-floor HVAC. Architecture is by Pickard Chilton.

When the dust settles and the ink is dry, United Airlines may not have the naming rights on the 609 Main building. But at least United will be occupying a Hines masterwork with the latest in skyscraper accouterments. 

— Commentary by Ralph Bivins, Editor of Realty News Report, an award-winning  Texas-based publication. Bivins is a past president of NAREE, the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

March 1, 2016

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