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Skanska Making Huge Play in East Downtown – and the Aftershocks Could be Transformative

Matt Damborsky of Skanska

HOUSTON – (By Ralph Bivins of Realty News Report) – Skanska Commercial Development has paid $55 million for 3.5 acres near Discovery Green park, where it expects to build a large mixed-use development.

The four downtown parcels are surface parking lots near Dallas, Lamar and LaBranch streets, including a full city block across from Marvy Finger’s One Park Place residential tower.

The new development, which is being master-planned now, has the scale to propel other development in the eastern part of downtown Houston – advancing a long, slow eastward evolution of the Central Business District.

“For this project, Skanska will tap our global expertise in multi-family, office and retail development as we consider the best uses for these sites advantageously located in the city’s front yard at Discovery Green,” said Matt Damborsky, executive vice president in Skanska’s Houston office. “These prime acquisitions include a full city block, which will be transformed into sustainable, high-quality space in the urban core.”

Skanska paid approximately $360 per square foot for the parking lot portfolio, which was acquired from MIPS Investments LLC, a company led by Marianne Pfiel-Schneider.

In June, Skanska Commercial Development, part of a Stockholm-based global construction giant, completed the 35-story Bank of America Center in downtown. The office project was internally financed by Skanska, meaning no bank loans were required. With this impressive financial wherewithal, the expectations should be high that Skanska’s next downtown development will be monumental.

With a site adjacent to the Finger tower and the Four Seasons hotel/condo tower, it’s reasonable to question whether Skanska’s property is not worthy of a major-league high-rise component. In downtown Austin, The Independent, a 58-story residential tower, just opened successfully. If a 58-story building can be constructed today in downtown Austin, why can’t it happen in downtown Houston?

Skanska may have “under-developed” the full downtown block where it built the Bank of America Tower, a 35-story, 750,000-square-foot tower completed this summer. That new building, which is across the street from a 75-story Hines-built tower, was started during the 2015 energy downturn when confidence in the Houston market was weak. Thirty-five stories seems a little sawed-off on the edifice scale of ambition.

Downtown property like what Skanska has acquired doesn’t come along every day. The company bears a responsibility to the city to produce a world-class catalyst project.

Skanska’s timetable has not been announced. The architect and planners have not been revealed. But the development has the potential to be a strong magnet for growth on the eastern part of downtown Houston.

Oct. 22, 2019 Realty News Report Copyright 2019

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