Don’t Run Down My City, Hoss

HOUSTON – (By Ralph Bivins, Realty News Report) – People who know me can tell you I don’t get mad very often. But the negative comments voiced about Houston by a big-time New York developer put a burr in my boot.

Jeff Blau, CEO of the Related Companies, has been leading his company’s expansion into the Texas markets of Austin and DFW.

But Blau told The Real Deal that he’s not a fan of Houston, an entrepreneurial hive that’s known as Space City and the Energy Capital of the World.

“I actually think it’s a terrible market. It’s so concentrated on one industry — oil — and they have no zoning in Houston and a lot of land and lots of sprawl,” Blau told The Real Deal publication.

Blau also criticized Houston for having too many undeveloped surface parking lots.

Of course, Blau’s New York City is not necessarily a pristine haven. The subways are dangerous, public schools are questionable and the office market is troubled with over 100 million SF available. And New York residents are leaving in droves.

Where does Related like go for its ventures?  Its website says: “We have offices and major developments in high barrier-to-entry gateway cities including New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, South Florida, London and Abu Dhabi.”

The love of “high barriers-to-entry” comment means  Related wants to operate in cities where zoning, government regulations and cumbersome permitting processes slow down the ability of developers to build new competitive buildings.

Many successful real estate organizations have thrived in Houston where the “barriers-to-entry” are low. Many grand towers designed by creative, forward-thinking architects have been erected in Houston, which has a skyline that’s not dominated by the repetitive design shackles of the past.

Houston developers don’t depend on government regs and red-tape structures for success. In Houston, if you’ve got the brains, cash and guts, there’s nothing to stop you from developing your project – regardless of your race, color or creed. Houston is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

A historical quote from Country Music:

“When you’re runnin’ down my country, hoss, you’re walking on the fightin’ side of me.” –  Merle Haggard.   (Released on July 6, 1970 by Capitol Records, The Fightin’ Side of Me  bulleted to No. 1 on the Billboard Country Chart.)

In its recent foray into Texas, The Related Companies has acquired a couple of North Texas properties – a 13-story office building in Farmers Branch and a 520-unit apartment complex in Carrollton. The firm also announced plans to build two little-bitty office buildings on South Congress Avenue in Austin, near the Continental Club.

With the recent retraction in the tech industry, Austin office vacancy has risen to more than 17 percent, a sharp increase from 7.6 percent in the second quarter of 2019, reports the Partners real estate firm.  Sublease space is on the rise in Austin. The kind-hearted soul might feel sorry for a latecomer who’s just now breaking ground in the state capital.

Houston’s strong economy should wake up the herd pretty soon and a cattle drive will bring the investors into Space City when financing loosens up a bit. Since May of 2020 Houston has created 500,000 new jobs, and it leads the nation in cargo exports and it’s gaining population. In recent years, Houston has been No. 1 or No. 2 among the nation’s home building markets.

Meanwhile, New York is losing population and drying up faster than a roadkill armadillo on Ranch Road 12 in August.

July 1, 2023 Realty News Report Copyright 2023

Photo credit: Ralph Bivins, Realty News Report. Copyright 2023


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