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A Few Things Houston Real Estate People Should Be Thankful For

Thanksgiving Square monument in Downtown Dallas. Copyright photo by Ralph Bivins. 2016

Thanks-Giving Square monument in Downtown Dallas. Copyright photo by Ralph Bivins. 2016

The memory of the worst Thanksgiving Day in history is fading. That was November 27, 2014 when instead of eating turkey, OPEC decided to wage war against the Texas energy industry by declining to cut oil production. Oil prices went into a nosedive, drilling activity was shut down and thousands of employees were laid off.

Houston is still in recovery, even though some sectors have not bottomed out yet and full recovery has not yet arrived.

As we move into Thanksgiving week, there are a few trends and big deals we should be thankful for. (Commentary by Realty News Report Editor Ralph Bivins. With Bivins photo gallery of shots of Thanks-Giving Square in Dallas.)

Be Thankful that Office Construction is Ending

Houston led the nation in office construction in 2014 with 17 million square feet underway. Most of those buildings have been completed.

There’s only 2 million square feet of construction still happening. A big chunk of that is the 1 million square-foot 609 Main at Texas tower that Hines will finish in January.

Houston doesn’t need any more new office space. The availability rate is over 21 percent and there’s a whopping 12 million square feet of space on the sublease market. So you can at least be thankful that the spigot of new supply is turned off.

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Home Sales are Hotter Than Ever

Mortgage rates have ticked up since the election and that’s never helpful.

But Houston’s existing single-family sales are heading toward a new annual sales record in 2016. There have been some minor pockets of softness in the upper-end home market in Houston and that’s been blamed on the energy industry crash.

Although Houston home sales had been great in recent years, a lack of inventory was a problem. Many new listings were getting multiple offers and a lot of would-be buyers became frustrated when they couldn’t buy the house they wanted. In 2016, the inventory is larger and buyers are buying.

Be thankful that 2016 will be a record year for home sales in Houston, Texas.

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Tear Down That Wall

Photo of Thanksgiving Square in downtown Dallas, an urban park unfortunately surrounded by walls. Photo by Ralph Bivins. Copyright 2016

Photo of Thanks-Giving Square in downtown Dallas, an urban park unfortunately surrounded by walls. Photo by Ralph Bivins. Copyright 2016

I am thankful Third Palm Capital has torn down the wall around the 35-acre former Exxon Chemical campus in the Energy Corridor in West Houston. (Well, it was actually a perimeter fence. But Donald Trump says fences and walls are pretty much the same thing.)

The former Exxon site is like a park – wooded, with a lake. With its fortress mentality, Exxon Mobil kept the property locked up behind fences with security cameras. Refreshingly, the new owners are welcoming the public.

The property, west of Eldridge Parkway, runs from I-10 to Memorial Drive. It’s huge. Third Palm has long-range plans to turn this property into a mixed-use project called Republic Square. In the meantime, the existing office buildings on the site are being leased to smaller tenants. Anyway, thanks to Third Palm for taking down the fence.

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Super Bowl is Coming

Thanks to Houstonian Ric Campo, head of the Camden Property Trust apartment REIT, for leading the charge to get the NFL to bring the Super Bowl to Houston on Feb. 5, 2017.

Several years ago, Campo, a civic leader, was the pitchman making the presentation to the NFL as Houston competed against other cities. The big day is almost here.

With the February Super Bowl as a completion date to shoot for, a number of new hotels have been developed in downtown in recent years. The Super Bowl will give the Houston economy a welcome supercharge – great for our hoteliers, waiters, bartenders and cab drivers.

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Be Thankful For Visionary Larry Johnson

Larry Johnson saw what few others could see – Highway 288 could be a prime development corridor on the south side of Houston in Pearland.

The first big foray to the south started in the 1980s with Southwyck, which came to a halt when Houston had its economic collapse in the mid-1980s.

In 1994, Johnson’s group bought the 1,100-acre remnant of Southwyck for $6 million. He renamed it Silverlake and marketed it as the easy commute to the massive Texas Medical Center, where 100,000 people work.

The rest is history. Today, Pearland is one of the fastest growing communities in the nation. And a few weeks ago ground was broken on a major expansion of Highway 288.

Thanks to Larry Johnson for demolishing the south side stigma.

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Thanks to Astrodome Savior Ed Emmett

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett led the charge to save the Astrodome – the space age symbol of Houston’s soul and its can-do spirit.

The Astrodome – the world’s first domed stadium was known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” when it opened in 1960s, but it’s been sitting vacant for a decade.

The county’s new plan is to raise the Astrodome’s floor, which will provide two levels of underground parking and convert the building’s 550,000-SF into useable public space.

The Astrodome will be useful for years to come. In the past, Houston’s leaders have been too quick to demolish our history. Saving the Dome changes that.

Nov. 21, 2016 Realty News Report Copyright 2016

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A Word of Thanksgiving from Realty News Report

Realty News Report thanks its outstanding sponsors: Arch-Construction, Avera, Bernstein Realty, CBRE, Clay Development and Construction, Colliers International, Colvill Office Properties, Cresa, Davis Commercial, Hines, NHMC Optech, NAI Partners, Transwestern, Vista Companies, Ziegler Cooper Architects, 500 Crawford Luxury Apartments and 811 Louisiana.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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The Bell Tower and the Ring of Thanks at Thanksgiving Square in Dallas. The square, designed by Philip Johnson, was dedicated in 1976. Photo by Ralph Bivins. Copyright 2016.

The Bell Tower and the Ring of Thanks at Thanksgiving Square in Dallas. The square, designed by Philip Johnson, was dedicated in 1976. Photo by Ralph Bivins. Copyright 2016.

 

 

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