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The Lasting Appeal of a Louisiana Street Address: Q&A with Damon Thames of Colvill Office Properties

Damon Thames, Colvill Office Properties, is leasing 811 Louisiana, a Hines building in downtown Houston.

Damon Thames, Colvill Office Properties, is leasing 811 Louisiana, a Hines building in downtown Houston.

Downtown’s 811 Louisiana, a 26-story, 577,735-square-foot office building formerly known as Two Shell Plaza, is proving again that a Louisiana Street address appeals to the Houston marketplace. Two years after Shell Oil vacated the property, the structure has undergone an extensive redesign by Page architects. The lobby was transformed and rebranded and the entry was changed to 811 Louisiana. The makeover seems to be working. Earlier this month, some 33,000 square feet of leases were announced. To find out more about the building’s metamorphosis – and its prospects for the future — Realty News Report talked with Damon Thames, Vice President of Colvill Office Properties, who is leasing and marketing the structure. Thames, who played professional baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals organization and spent five years as a sports agent before entering the commercial real estate business, is responsible for leasing and marketing a three million square foot portfolio of Class A office properties located in Houston on behalf of numerous institutional owners. In 2015 and 2016, Damon was again recognized as a “Heavy Hitter” by the Houston Business Journal and has been involved in the completion of over two million square feet of lease transactions.

Realty News Report: As we know, this building was one of the properties impacted when Shell Oil moved from downtown to the suburbs. Where does availability stand currently at 811 Louisiana?

Damon Thames: We currently have approximately 300,000 net rentable square feet available and we are working hard on reducing that number significantly.

Realty News Report: This building, one of the first major towers developed by Hines, is a classic, designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill and built as a companion to One Shell Plaza decades ago. Tell us about the recent redevelopment.

Damon Thames: Fortunately, Hines built an amazing building that was made to stand the test of time from a quality and efficiency standpoint. Also, it has arguably the best location in the Houston CBD for access and tunnel amenities. There was obviously a need to address the lobby and bring it up to Class A+ standards and from the responses that we have received from the real estate community, that goal was achieved. The lower few levels of the exterior were also re-clad to give it a very distinguished look. Included in the exterior renovation was a new glass curtain wall surrounding the lobby, which shows off the beauty of the renovations while bringing in an abundance of natural light adding to the overall quality and energetic feeling of the new lobby.

Realty News Report: With the redevelopment, the decision was made to change the address of the tower from Walker to Louisiana Street. Can you tell us a bit about the decision to change the address?

Damon Thames: The Louisiana corridor is one of downtown’s premier addresses and we believe that 811 Louisiana should be part of that tradition. There are a number of amazing buildings and companies that hold a Louisiana address and we are confident that the building will build upon that history.

Realty News Report: The 811 Louisiana building is across the street from Block 142, which is now a surface parking lot. It seems like Block 142 would be an excellent location for a new tower in the next cycle. Your thoughts?

Damon Thames: It is an excellent site and because it is in such a great location, there should have a myriad of opportunities in the future for redevelopment. That said, it looks like there are other office towers planned or moving forward in the CBD that would put Block 142 further down the line for an office development.

Realty News Report: Overall, what’s your opinion of the downtown office market? There’s certainly a lot of sublease space available. Has the market bottomed out and ready to rise again? Or is there some more work to be done before Houston reaches full recovery?

Damon Thames: Our office at Colvill is experiencing an increase in tours of office space available, which we hope translates to more leases in 2017. We are sensing some confidence from tenants to do long term deals and that the time is ripe for great deals from a tenant’s standpoint. We hope that this continues and as owners are able to increase occupancy, rates and concessions will stabilize. Tenants are definitely looking at some of the sublease space and some of that space is very compelling. However, there are always reasons that tenants prefer to go direct and we are seeing some of that take place as tenants choose direct long term deals over short term savings.

March 16, 2017 Realty News Report Copyright 2017

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