Major Leases in Downtown Skyscrapers

HOUSTON – (Realty News Report)  –  An energy company and a law firm have major leases in the 4 million-SF Houston Center development, a Brookfield Properties campus in downtown Houston.

Ahmad, Zavitsanos & Mensing, PLLC, a national trial law firm, and MRC Global (US) Inc., a leading distributor of global energy products, both have leased space Houston Center, according to Brookfield Properties.

Under the terms of the expanded lease agreements, AZA will occupy 58,000 SF of office space at LyondellBasell Tower, a 46-story at 1221 McKinney St.

MRC Global will occupy 50,000 SF at 3 Houston Center, a 51-story building, 1301 McKinney Street in Houston Center,  which east of Main Street.

AZA was represented in lease negotiations by John Luck, Andy Iversen, and Audrey Selber of Newmark, and MRC Global was represented in lease negotiations by Trey Strake, Chris Oliver and Scott Wegmann of Cushman & Wakefield. In both leases, Brookfield Properties was represented by Doug Little, Kelli Gault, Jack Scharnberg, and Parker Burkett of Transwestern.

Brookfield Properties has spent millions, some sources say over $200 million, to renovate  Houston Center and its other properties in downtown Houston. As new office projects have been added to the market, landlords add amenities, upgrades and outdoor plazas  to keep 40-year-old skyscrapers competitive. And downtown Houston has a significant inventory of towers built in the 1980s and late 1970s.

“Today, companies prioritize quality amenities and offerings that enhance employee morale and work-life balance. The commitment from these entities speak highly to the value of the available amenities and the significant improvements that have already been made to Houston Center to create a vibrant downtown destination,” said Travis Overall, Executive Vice President and Head of the Texas Region for Brookfield Properties.

Brookfield Properties redevelopment includes a complete makeover of the 200,000 Shops at Houston Center, a multi-level retail center. For years, it’s restaurants and food court had a strong appeal to employees in surrounding skyscrapers.  The latest iteration in the effort to elevate retail in downtown Houston involves changing the name of Houston Center’s retail again. It’s now called “The Highlight.”

A plan by Gensler architects added a glass curtainwall and an open entry facing the Discovery Green side of the retail structure. The retail, called the Park Shops years ago, was often criticized for presenting the feel of an impenetrable fortress at street level – not welcoming to shoppers or eaters.

Recently, Puttshack, a higher-end, young-adult focused, mini-golf outlet with food and bar service, was signed as a tenant to inject weekend and after-hours energy to the retail package.

While the occupancy rate in downtown Houston is weak, there has been more leasing activity in recent months. Law firms in particular have signed a number of leases and expansions of existing leases. Earlier this week, the Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP law firm announced a lease of its offices in the 75-story JPMorgan Chase Tower, the tallest skyscraper in Texas.

At Houston Center, AZA leadership has appreciated its Houston Center location, said John Zavitsanos, Co-Founder of AZA. “We tried 27 cases in court between 2021 and 2022, which required extensive collaboration and expertise in a variety of areas. Our team highly benefitted from the ecosystem created at Houston Center and are thrilled to continue calling the campus home.”

Feb.8, 2023. Realty News Report Copyright 2023

Photo by Shannon O’Hara. Courtesy Brookfield Properties


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