HOUSTON – Ralph Bivins of Realty News Report: The latest episode of THE RALPH BIVINS PROJECT podcast features Cameron Colvill of Whitebox Real Estate.
RALPH BIVINS: Welcome, this is Ralph Bivins with the Ralph Bivins Project. Remember to check out our website, realtynewsreport.com, to view the daily news on regional and national topic. You can subscribe to this podcast, the Ralph Bivins Project, on YouTube and Spotify and other platforms soon. Today, we’re going to talk with Cameron Colvill. You may recognize his name, if you’re familiar with Houston real estate. His father, Chip Colvill, was the founder of Colvill Office Properties, a major company that was acquired by Cushman and Wakefield in 2020. Cameron recently joined Whitebox Real Estate which is new to Houston. Welcome, Cameron.
CAMERON COLVILL:Thank you, Ralph. First of all, thanks for having me on your podcast. It’s a great opportunity to get the Whitebox name out there. My dad has known you for years, you are considered a legend in the Houston reporting space.
RALPH BIVINS: Thank you. It’s no secret that the office market in Houston has been a little soft for a couple of years. Some might say really soft. Lately, though, in the past 1-2 months, we have seen some activity indicating things are getting better. What’s your take on this, and the economy locally?
CAMERON COLVILL: The last two years have been extremely tough for all of us in the industry. Thankfully, we are resilient folks. We know how to go through tough times. My dad has been through 5-6 tough times. I’ve seen him work his tail off in good times and tough times. The sentiment right now? Everybody is feeling good out there. We’ve seen eight previous quarters of negative absorption. Just recently, for the first time in eight quarters, we have seen positive absorption. We’re very pleased. We think we’re on the cusp of everyone getting back to work. 94 percent of lost jobs have come back, which is great news. There’s a 26 percent vacancy rate. Downtown in looking great.
Really, I’d say about 50-60 percent of all people are back in the office downtown, and probably closer to 70-80 percent of people are back in their offices in the suburban market. We’re optimistic for the future. What we previously saw was a lot of companies doing short-term extensions. They were just waiting for the bottom of the market. Well, I think we’ve seen the bottom of the market. I think what you will see here is a huge uptick in activity as these companies come up for renewal. A lot of them have done one- or two-year lease extensions. We should be very busy at Whitebox. The energy here is palpable. Certainly, since Grant Pruitt started this company in Dallas about six years ago, there’s a certain energy about him that’s infectious. He’s six-foot-five, he’s got so much energy, he’s sharp and polished and has a great company in Dallas. The Houston office was started eight or nine months ago. We have a great group of guys and gals that are ready to hit the streets. It’s good to be here and I’m very excited about the future.
RALPH BIVINS: When you talk about downtown, a couple of years ago, you couldn’t help feeling bad for the restaurant and deli owners because so many people had gone because of COVID. Having so much repopulation now is a good sign. There should be a lot of people ‘round and about. The street energy must be there.
CAMERON COLVILL: The positive thing. Downtown is not going anywhere. It’s super easy for the employees at larger companies to get there. The city has public transportation and a tunnel system. Every landlord in the downtown has spent millions of dollars on their buildings, so there have been a ton of significant improvements made. This is what we are seeing. To get people back to work in downtown, you have to spend money to make money. You have to make people want to come back to work. I was lucky to do my training for Whitebox in the Dallas office. It’s been my dream to work for a company that offered cold brew on tap. Well, they had cold brew on tap. I felt like I was a character on that TV show on Hulu, “Suits,” which has the fancy glass doors and everyone’s names on the sidewalls in cool lettering. Whitebox has a great office up there in Dallas.
No matter where you are, you have to be excited to come back to work. They spent a lot of money on those buildings in downtown Houston. There should not be any issues with the downtown going forward. If you look at the sublease vacancy rate in downtown Houston, it’s about 3 percent, which is better than the city average.
My former Cushman colleagues told me they recently announced that Cheniere Energy is moving into a 152,000 SF space in the Texas Tower. That’s a win for downtown.
Cameron Colvill biography
Since expanding into Houston last September, Whitebox Real Estate has added to its staff. Cameron Colvill, the firm’s new senior transaction manager, joined Whitebox on July 5. Cameron previously was with Colvill Office Properties, which Cushman & Wakefield acquired in 2020. After graduating from Texas Christian University, Cameron worked with the Swearingen Realty Group in Dallas. Whitebox recently moved its Houston office into the 510 Bering Drive building.
July 25, 2022 Realty News Report Copyright 2022
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