HOUSTON – (Realty News Report) – Dart Interests has named Colliers to handle the leasing assignment for Republic Square, a 301,000 SF newly renovated office building in the Energy Corridor.
The 35-acre campus was originally the headquarters of Exxon Chemical, which sold it to a branch of Dart Interests in 2013.
The Republic Square building, located at 13501 Katy Freeway, will be leased by Blake R. Virgilio and Bill Insull of Colliers Houston Agency Leasing Group. “We look forward to announcing future improvements that will continue to enhance the campus as Houston’s ideal place to Office in the Park.” said Virgilio.
Adjacent to Hershey Park
Republic Square’s wooded campus is adjacent to Terry Hershey Park, which was hit hard during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
The newly renovated Republic Square office campus has been transformed, featuring state-of-the-art conference facilities, a fitness center, and an open lobby providing plenty of natural light overlooking the campus’ central lake. The adjacent Hershey Park provides extensive hike and bike trails.
Exxon Chemical site was acquired about eight years ago for $70 million by a Dart affiliate called Third Palm. Exxon was building a 3 million-SF campus in Springwoods Village in north Houston to consolidating most of its offices in the new campus. So Exxon began selling its Houston properties including its skyscraper at 800 Bell in downtown and its verdant, park-like Exxon Chemical campus, west of Eldridge on the north side of Memorial Drive.
Major MIxed-Use Vision
At the Exxon Chemical site in the Energy Corridor, Third Palm was creating a significant plan for Republic Square, envisioned as a major mixed-use project with additional office space, retail, multifamily and hotel development. At that time, the Energy Corridor had Class A office occupancy well over 95 percent and was known as one of the strongest – if not the strongest – office submarkets in the nation. The purchase of the Exxon Chemical property was finalized before the infamous 2014 Thanksgiving Day OPEC meeting where Saudi Arabia pushed for increased oil production. West Texas Intermediate crude, which had been as high as $107 a barrel in the summer of 2014, took a sharp nosedive. The energy companies that led the great Shale Revolution were in retreat. Vacancy skyrocketed in the Energy Corridor office market.
Then, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in August 2017, impacted the area following days of heavy rainfall (over 50 inches by some accounts) and the US Corps of Engineers unprecedented release of water from Addicks Reservoir.
In 2020, the pandemic and softness in the energy industry created additional woes for Houston office market, which now has the highest vacancy rate in the country. Citywide vacancy is now at 22.3 percent, Colliers reports.
Houston Rebound Blossoms
However, more optimism has blossomed as Covid vaccination programs have expanded in 2021. “There is now light at the end of the tunnel,” Virgilio wrote in a recent Colliers commentary. “Traffic on the highways has increased, social gatherings are more prevalent and major employers that have had employees WFH (work from home) for 13 months are starting to implement their return to office plans, starting in May and running through the summer.”
April 21, 2021 Realty News Report Copyright 2021
Photo courtesy Colliers
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File Colliers Leading Republic Square’s New Leasing Program