Celebrated architect Ieoh Ming Pei—more commonly known as I.M. Pei—died on May 16th. He was 102 years old. He designed the Texas Commerce Bank Bldg for Gerald D. Hines Interests.

Born in 1917 in Guangzhou, China, Pei moved to the U.S. in 1935 to study architecture, starting at the University of Pennsylvania and later transferring to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After graduating, Pei joined the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he studied under Marcel Breuer and Walter Gropius, pioneers of modernist architecture.

At the beginning of his career, Pei worked closely with developer William Zeckendorf and fellow architects Ulrich Franzen and Henry Cobb, as the in-house architect of Webb & Knapp. Together, they adventured on multiple large-scale urban renewal projects in Houston, New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., Boston, Denver, Montreal and other cities.

After seven years with Webb & Knapp in New York, Pei established his own architecture firm in 1955, known today as Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Throughout his more than 60-year career, he designed a number of notable modernist buildings around the world, including the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Louvre Pyramid in Paris and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Check our web site for more information www.houstonrealtyadvisors.com


Houston-Based Retailer To Shutter At Least 20 Stores Nationwide

SO this is going to SAVE ME MONEEEEEY ..OK….bad Mattress Mack impression…Francesca’s announced Friday it will close at least 20 locations in 2019 and will pause remodels until the company’s bottom line improves, Retail Dive reports. It originally expected to shutter between 30 and 40 stores this year after identifying 129 underperforming stores, according to the Houston Business Journal.  The Houston-based apparel retailer posted a 14% drop in net sales in the fourth quarter from $119.3M to $138.5M year over year, according to a release from Francesca’s. It noted a decline in boutique traffic and a lower conversion as the reason for the decline in net sales. Overall, net sales decreased by 9% year over year from $471.7M in 2017 to $428.1M in 2018.  “Over the last three months, we have done an abundance of work, evaluating all areas of the business and developing a strategic turnaround plan that we believe will return the company to longer-term positive sales, cash flow and operating income performance,” Francesca’s interim CEO Michael Prendergast said in the release.  Going forward, the company’s top cost reduction measures include: transitioning the merchandising process to allow a demand-based, fast-fashion business model; simplifying the promotional strategy; cutting selling, general and administrative expenses; and optimizing real estate through selective closures and lease renegotiations.   “We will continue to move swiftly to develop a strong foundation and implement operational disciplines that will enable improved performance across all financial metrics,” Prendergast said.  Francesca’s CEO Steve Lawrence resigned earlier this year, and the company hinted at a potential sale, according to the Houston Chronicle. The retailer also cut an undisclosed number of jobs in both the corporate office and field management positions, saving about $15M in annualized gross selling, general and administrative expenses, a release from April said.  In 2018, Francesca’s opened 32 new stores and had 26 closures compared to 60 new stores and 10 closures in 2017. The retailer has a total of 727 boutiques, per the release. Five of those are in Houston, according to the company’s website.


A record-breaking 16M SF of industrial product is under construction in Houston. The number blows away the previous peak of 15.4M SF underway in Q2 2015, according to NAI Partners research.
Developers are bullish on the industrial space because of the city’s strong economic outlook, but industrial brokers disagree on whether there is enough demand to absorb the increasing supply in the Bayou City.
“The amount of industrial construction going on is mind-blowing,” Avison Young Vice President Grant Hortenstine said. “That is a massive amount of space. No one can say there are 15 Home Depots, Walmarts, Lowes, Conns or whoever looking for that much space because they just are not.”  Ed Ayres at www.houstonrealtyadvisors.com says the number of industrial space seekers coming to USA and Houston may be due to the tariffs that President Donald TRUMP has threatened and already added.

Tulsa-based Magellan Midstream Partners LP (NYSE: MMP) has agreed to let San Antonio’s Valero Energy Corp. in on an infrastructure project it’s working on in Pasadena that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

The 50-50 joint venture project involves a Houston Ship Channel marine terminal in Pasadena for refined products, according to a press release. The $820 million projected cost of the first two phases — including the price of the land on which the terminal is being built — is coming equally from Magellan and a subsidiary of Valero, and both phases are supported by long-term customer commitments, said Tom Byers, a Magellan spokesman.

September 5, 2017

The state of Texas has had a tight housing market, as the country’s largest homebuilding market, builders and construction workers were struggling to keep up with demand. Added to the strain, will be calls for housing to replace the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey.

“There was not very much extra capacity in the construction market, and now there will be higher strain to repair and replace what got damaged,” James Gaines, chief economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University told the Dallas Morning News.

Furthermore, after previous Texas hurricanes, laborers from Mexico and Latin America assisted with cleanup. However, the ramping up of border security, combined with a stronger Mexican economy, means those people might not be coming across the border to help out.

Downtown Houston Status Post Tropical Storm Harvey


Over the next days, weeks and months, we will be working with our Downtown stakeholders to support the recovery of our great City.  Overall, Downtown has fared well and is stable.  While conditions are improving, we realize that many areas of Houston still have high water and/or no power, in addition METRO will not be in service today and may have limited service during the rest of the week, we recommend people act with caution to ensure their safety.

After reaching a peak on Sunday, Buffalo Bayou water levels in Downtown continue to decrease; high waters were primarily in the northern and western areas of Downtown (Warehouse, Historic and Theater Districts).  Flooding in the Downtown Tunnels was isolated to sections adjacent to the Theater District and Civic Center garages.

Since Sunday, the George R. Brown Convention Center, and now Toyota Center, has been operating as a major relief facility for evacuees with significant activity around the area. We expect to see very few Downtown workers coming back today, with more on Thursday and Friday. Some restaurants are open including The District, Frank’s Pizza, Conservatory, Prohibition, Flying Saucer, Sol Café Mejicano, Jason’s Deli- 901 McKinney, Treebeard’s- 1100 Louisiana (call-in orders only), Your Pie, and Phoenicia Specialty Foods Grocery.

The Downtown District continues to outreach to property owners, property managers, businesses and residents and will be assessing damage.

Below is a summary of the situation to date:

  • Downtown District Operations continues coordination with City, County and METRO making ongoing assessments and outreach to properties and businesses.
  • Based on observation and reports to date, the following properties have been affected primarily water in first level/basement spaces; detailed property assesments are not available at this time:
    • Spaghetti Warehouse, 901 Commerce
    • Sunset Coffee Building, 1019 Commerce
    • 800 Commerce, law offices
    • AIA Houston (u/c), 900 Commerce
    • One Main and Student Life Buildings, University of Houston Downtown
    • Willow Street Pump Station, Universty of Houston Downtown
    • Dakota Lofts, 711 William
    • mArchitects, 1206 Nance
    • Oxheart/Theodore Rex (u/c), 1302 Nance
    • Cotton Exchange Bldg, 202 Travis
    • Bayou Lofts, 915 Franklin
    • The Rice, 909 Texas
    • Market Square Tower
    • Hogg Palace, 401 Louisiana
    • Chase Motor Bank, 212 Milam
    • Magnolia Ballroom, 715 Franklin
    • Theater District and Tranquility Garages
    • Bayou Place
    • Downtown Aquarium
    • Houston Ballet Center for Dance, 601 Preston
    • Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas
    • Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana
    • Alley Theatre, 615 Texas
    • Hobby Center, 800 Bagby
    • City Hall and City Annex
    • Sam Houston Park/Historic Homes
    • 1415 Fannin (fire damage)
  • Streets to and within downtown are open, although some freeway exit ramps leading into Downtown remain impassable.
  • There are isolated power outages in the Historic District and Harris County complex; CenterPoint Energy is working to restore.
  • A traffic signals are out in the north end, please stop and use caution.
  • Downtown District Operations is currently picking up minor debris, as well as tipping trash receptacles and picking up bagged trash.
  • METRO services are suspended though Wednesday; updates can be found at ridemetro.org and via their social channels.
  • Schools (Incarnate Word Academy, South Texas College of Law and University of Houston Downtown) will resume classes on Tuesday, September 5.
  • Many events are being cancelled or rescheduled.  We will update our Calendar as we get info.

For status updates, visit emergency.downtowndistrict.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


The Downtown District was formed in 1995 for the purpose of revitalizing the urban core of the country’s fourth largest city. Over the past decade, the Downtown District has used a combination of public funds and private resources to catalyze area improvements focusing on the city blocks bordered by Interstate 10, Highway 59 and Interstate 45.

The Downtown District operates under the leadership of a 30-person board of directors who oversee the implementation of the District’s strategic initiatives. Funding for the Downtown District comes from a special assessment on all downtown property owners.

For more information visit downtowndistrict.org.

In formats big and small, the number of players and concepts grows. When it comes to store size in the Texas grocery business, there’s no such thing as too big or too small. From the 100,000-square-foot Kroger to a 5,000-square-foot Hispanic butcher, the state’s torrid population growth has not only opened the door for a plethora of grocery concepts and competitors, but it has also given grocers the flexibility to match the size of their stores to the population densities of the surrounding submarkets. The Lone Star State has added approximately 850,000 new residents over the past two years combined, with the growth balanced between urban and suburban areas. According to Simmi Jaggi, senior vice president in JLL’s retail brokerage division, this balance enables grocers to customize new locations to existing market characteristics, rather than gamble on an influx of people that may or may not come. “In urban settings, we see grocers getting smaller and more agile, in some cases going to a vertical, multi-story layout,” says Jaggi. “But in suburban markets, we see grocers generally getting bigger.” Even in urban settings, when land constraints become a bigger factor in site selection, ultimately it’s the demographic analysis of the area that dictates size of the project, says Jaggi. Basing store size on population volume generates a high level of sales per square foot, a key metric in evaluating the performance of grocery stores. “The true, key factor in the site selection process is density of population,” says Jaggi. “After that, it’s a prime intersection in the middle of a dense population. That’s what it all really boils down to, because in the grocery business it’s all about sales volume.” In addition to playing into demographics, Texas grocers are able to build and lease locations that mesh with their brand images. Traditional grocers like Kroger and H-E-B can go bigger, enhancing their appeal to onestop shoppers. Specialty grocers like Trader Joe’s, on the other hand, can go smaller, solidifying their images as niche retailers with high-quality, private-label offerings. Jason Baker, founding partner of Houston-based retail brokerage firm Baker Katz, credits this trend to the efforts of traditional grocers such as Kroger and H-E-B to diversify their product lines and service offerings. “Twenty years ago, Kroger and H-E-B were doing 25,000- to 35,000-square foot stores,” says Baker. “Now, both grocers are at or above 100,000 square feet because they’re offering everything from furniture and extended pharmacies to shoes and haircuts, not to mention stores that now have full restaurants operating inside. The willingness to experiment is driven by the significant foot traffic they generate.” As for the specialty chains, adds Baker, their movement toward smaller store spaces stems from a willingness to locate stores closer to one another, a byproduct of expanding into more densely populated urban spaces. But flexibility, by definition, goes both ways. Not all big stores are getting bigger, nor vice versa. According to David Livingston, an independent researcher and site selection consultant for supermarkets, some chains are rebelling against their traditional formats and brand images simply because a given target market demands it. “Small formats like Aldi have been getting somewhat smaller, and large formats like Walmart have been developing smaller stores to better fit smaller markets,” says Livingston. “Target has also been developing smaller urban formats for more densely populated cities. Basically, supermarkets will fit the store to the market.” One Game, Many Players With great population growth comes great competition. Specialty grocers like Sprouts Farmers Market and its subsidiary, Sunflower Farmers Market, have been expanding in Texas since 2002, the year both chains were started. Then there is upscale organic grocer Whole Foods Market, which is based in Austin. These companies rank first, fourth and eighth, respectively, on Chain Store Guide’s list of the 50 fastest-growing grocery franchises in the United States, based on five-year unit growth. Despite the successes of these grocers, consumer trends still seem to favor the big players. According to a 2016 study by Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and food and beverage consulting firm The Hartman Group, the average shopper makes 1.6 trips to the grocery store per week, spending about $100 per trip. In such an environment, one-stop shopping marts with low price points retain the advantage.    By Taylor Williams  Texas RE Business Magazine

For more information on Houston office space, Houston retail space or Houston warehouse space and Houston industrial space, please call 713 782-0260 or see my web site at : www.houstonrealtyadvisors.com  Thank you for your interest.




Ed A. Ayres

Houston Realty Advisors, Inc.

Mitaquye oyasin



Please follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/edayres, my blog at http://houstonrealtyadvisors.blogspot.com,

A two-acre land parcel was acquired in Houston’s Pearland suburb envisioned to house a self storage facility built using surplus shipping containers. Houston-based GreenSpace Holdings launched development on the site at 2515 Westminster Rd., which is planned for 1,017 units. Built using roughly 320 surplus shipping containers, it is believed to be the first-of-its-kind facility in the world.

The Class A facility will offer 95,565 square feet of rentable space across three stories and operate under the CubeSmart brand. In addition to 24-hour surveillance, electronic access control, climate-controlled units, and a retail-oriented customer service office, the facility will feature a modern, patent-pending design that was first outlined on a napkin more than two years ago by Greenspace Holdings’ Rick Stockton and David Ledoux.

The method is said to reduce multistory self-storage construction costs by up to 50%, the construction schedule by four to six months, and occupancy required for positive cash flow to approximately 45%. GreenSpace plans to build 50 more multistory self-storage facilities across the U.S. in the next seven years.

Two new restaurants coming to the Galleria have filed building permits with the city of Houston.

Nobu, a popular sushi restaurant, and Fig & Olive, a Mediterranean cuisine eatery, filed commercial building permits at 5115 Westheimer Road in the former Saks Fifth Avenue space at the Galleria Mall.

New York-based Nobu’s permit was for $7 million to build-out the space. The contractor is Boston-based Shawmut Design and Construction, but no opening date has been set yet, according to a spokesperson, though it should open sometime in early 2018.

Fig & Olive, also based in New York, filed its permit for $4 million for a restaurant build-out. Representatives from Fig & Olive did not immediately respond to the Houston Business Journal’s request for comment.

New York-based RKF brokered both transactions last fall.

The Galleria is owned by Simon Property Group, Inc. (NYSE: SPG), which has been renovating and expanding the mall for several years now. The former Saks Fifth Avenue space, also known as the Galleria VI wing, officially opened June 30, according to a press release. The 110,000-square-foot space will host 35 retailers and restaurants.

For Nobu, this location will be its first in Houston and second in Texas. The Galleria space will occupy 10,000 square feet on the second level with private elevator access. Nobu has several U.S. restaurants including in Dallas, New York, California, Las Vegas, Florida and Hawaii, as well as international locations.

The Westheimer space will be Fig & Olive’s first Lone Star State restaurant. It’s street-level spot will be about 7,000 square feet. The restaurant has several locations in New York and California along with one in Washington, D.C., and another in Chicago.