HOUSTON – Hines, one of the world’s most successful skyscraper developers, is expected to acquire the Houston Chronicle’s downtown property later this year and demolish the newspaper building.
But with the Houston office market headed for the doldrums it will be years before the Chronicle site, 801 Texas Avenue, will have a new skyscraper on it. A groundbreaking in 2018, with a tower being completed in 2020, seems like a good timetable estimate.
Houston-based Hines contracted to buy the Houston Chronicle property, reaching an agreement with the newspaper’s owner, Hearst Corp., after negotiating through the summer. Holliday Fenoglio Fowler represents Hearst.
The newspaper’s facilities, including its headquarters building and newsroom at 801 Texas Ave., cover 99,184 square feet of land on two prime city blocks. The Chronicle property includes a 10-story building, on a full block at the intersection of Texas at Milam, and a 560-space parking garage on a half-block at Prairie and Milam.
The newspaper relocates next summer to its 4747 Southwest Freeway facility, the former Houston Post building near Loop 610.
The Chronicle’s old downtown building is expected to be demolished in 2016, but there are reasons new construction won’t happen soon on the Chronicle site. Currently, Hines is constructing a 48-story spec office tower only a block away on Main Street and no tenant has been announced – so that’s a million square feet of new space to be digested. With the energy industry suffering, the Houston office market is softer and occupancy rates are falling.
Obviously, the $50 million Chronicle acquisition is a move for the future – when the Houston economy is in its next up-cycle and the city needs more new office buildings.
There’s no guarantee that Hines will build an office tower there and it’s too early for Hines to articulate its vision. But the Chronicle site is certainly a good investment, regardless of what is built there. Hines knows downtown Houston intimately and the company didn’t get to the top rung of the real estate business by making $50 million mistakes.
— By Ralph Bivins Editor’s note: Realty News Report editor Ralph Bivins covered real estate for the Houston Chronicle for a number of years.
Sad. An old building that the Chronicle just (is seems) finished renovating.
The exterior skin required extensive work.
My early journalism career includes 3 1/2 years at the UPI/Houston Bureau in a corner office of the 1910 Houston Chronicle Building, a nice perch to observe the Rice Hotel/Capitol Club (location of Texas’ first State Capitol) and traffic at the intersection of Texas and Rusk Avenues. The really high ceilings had been lowered in most rooms, but we still had the oak doors with that crinkly glass window pane for privacy and stenciled names on the door with a fine transom above. The window washers would arrive, signaling us to anchor all the loose paper and they would raise the window, sit on the ledge and lower it on their lap while they cleaned the windows from the outside. Amazing. I piled up a lot of hours — typically 4 p.m. to midnight or 1 a.m. — sometimes wandering down to the Chronicle newsroom on the third (?) floor. Hey, that was 1968-71. You expect me to remember? —
Preston F. Kirk, a Founding Editor of Houston Business Journal, Texas Business Magazine; Kirk Public Relations (Ret. May 2014), Spicewood TX
Founding editor of HBJ? When was that?
Build “affordable” residential. Not $700K condos.
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