Developers Thomas Roszak and Dan Moceri have turned to a popular type of tenant—co-working—to help jump-start their first Chicago office building.

Unfazed by the harsh light cast on the shared-office sector following industry giant WeWork’s botched effort to go public, the Chicago-based duo announced they’ve inked a 15-year agreement with shared-office provider Firmspace for almost 35,000 square feet at 145 S. Wells St.

Austin, Texas-based Firmspace will move this fall into the top three office floors of the 20-story, 210,000-square-foot building that Chicago-based Moceri & Roszak just finished at the corner of Wells and Adams streets, the companies said in a statement.

The deal breathes some leasing momentum into a property that the firm developed on speculation, or without any tenants signed. Some developers have tried that risky approach in recent years, betting they could win tenants from the flood of companies hiring and pouring into downtown. But most of the spec office development has been reserved for the trendy West Loop and Fulton Market District.

Moceri & Roszak, better known as an apartment developer, wagered it could succeed with new office construction in the Central Loop, where most of the available inventory is in older buildings.

“It was our vision to create a space unlike any other in Chicago, a place that melds boutique hospitality-like design with premier modern office space,” Roszak said in the statement.

The developers still face plenty of competition to fill the rest of the building, especially from new West Loop and Fulton Market buildings that have been proposed or are under construction. Working in their favor: They have space ready now, and Chicago just capped off its best year of office demand since 2007. Plus, fast-growing tech companies have shown more interest in updated Central Loop buildings over the past couple of years.

In Firmspace, Moceri & Roszak has landed a new competitor in the highly fragmented local landscape of shared-office providers, which offer low-risk, flexible space that users can rent by the month.

Three-year-old Firmspace, which has opened just three locations to date—in Austin, Houston and Denver—frames itself as a high-end provider with tight security and privacy for its large number of users from the legal field.

Firmspace CEO and former real estate lawyer Anish Michael said Chicago’s corporate diversity made it a logical place to expand the brand, and 145 S. Wells “made a lot of sense for us with convenient access and walkability” to public transportation. “It was a good fit, and we thought it was our opportunity to enter the market.”

Michael said his company aims to differentiate itself in the co-working sector by providing a more upscale design in a single location rather than opening several around the city like the industry’s largest players, such as WeWork, Industrious and Spaces.

Rapid expansion by those bigger firms and other competitors has brought the total amount of co-working space downtown to around 3.2 million square feet, up from 2.2 million just more than a year ago, according to brokerage Newmark Knight Frank.

Firmspace hasn’t established its rents for Chicago users yet, but Michael said starting rents in other markets range from $500 to $750 per month for a one-desk interior office of 60 to 70 square feet.

Moceri & Roszak has been busy in the heart of downtown over the past few years. Riding the wave of demand for rental units in the city, the firm opened a 33-story, 265-unit apartment building at 215 W. Lake St. in 2017 and cashed out in late 2018, selling it for $121 million. Late last year, the developer broke ground on a 25-story, 215-unit apartment building at 50 E. Randolph St., a block from Millennium Park.

Jones Lang LaSalle Managing Director Corey Siegrist represented Firmspace in negotiating the lease. JLL leasing brokers Mason Taylor and Chris Cassata represented Moceri & Roszak.


Business is still buzzing in the Bayou City. Despite the much-maligned office market sitting at an overall vacancy rate of 21.6%, deals are still getting done. As Houston looks to turn over a new leaf in 2020, we look back at the largest deals of 2019 that helped Houston’s absorption stay in the black.

Downtown Houston Skyline
BURNS & MCDONNELL, 218K SF, 1700 WEST LOOP S, GALLERIA
Houston’s diversification has become a part of the city’s narrative, but energy tenants still made up the majority of the year’s largest deals. Nearly half of the top dozen deals were renewals, indicative of the city’s overall lack of demand. One positive for the city is that no one office market seems to be overly dominant. Powerhouses like the Central Business District and Galleria areas remain strong, but some of the largest deals of the year were in suburbs, where a competitive market has tenants finding favorable deals. With the help of research from NAI Partners, let’s look at the largest leases of the year.
Burns & McDonnell Plaza
ALIGHT SOLUTIONS, 180K SF, 8770 NEW TRAILS DRIVE, THE WOODLANDS
Houston’s second-largest deal of the year is actually 30 miles north in The Woodlands, where the payroll and cloud solutions tech company Alight Solutions struck a deal with The Howard Hughes Corp. for a new four-story, 180K SF office building to be rented and solely occupied by the firm. The build-to-suit office joins a smaller office park along New Trails Drive, where Alight will soon move its employees from its current home on Technology Forest Boulevard when the project is completed early next year.

The Woodlands

KIEWIT ENGINEERING, 156K SF, ENERGY CENTER I, ENERGY CORRIDOR
Houston's 12 Largest Office Leases Of The Year
Houston’s Energy Corridor has been particularly hard hit by the city’s struggling oil and gas sector. Energy Center I has been representative of that struggle, sitting functionally vacant for months. With Kiewit’s deal, the building is now 52% leased. The office isn’t Kiewit’s first in Houston. The firm has another close by at Energy Tower IV and additional offices in The Woodlands.
BANK OF AMERICA, 122K SF, PENNZOIL PLACE, DOWNTOWN

Pennzoil Place

Bank of America, one of the city’s largest employers, has been mixing up its real estate footprint in Downtown Houston. After announcing its plans to vacate its namesake building for Skanska’s new office tower, the bank announced several other changes, including a new 122K SF lease at the iconic southern tower of Pennzoil Place, across the street from its former home. For those keeping up at home, Bank of America Tower is now TC Energy Center and Skanska’s Capitol Tower is now Bank of America Tower.

NOBLE CORP., 115K SF, SUGAR CREEK PLACE, SUGAR LAND

Sugar Creek Place
EMPYREAN BENEFIT SOLUTIONS, 106K SF, 3010 BRIAR PARK, WESTCHASE

Houston's 12 Largest Office Leases Of The Year
Empyrean Benefit Solutions, which manages employee health and benefit programs, was forced out of its offices in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and ended up in Westchase. Since that time, the company has liked what it has seen and decided to turn its short-term lease into a new home. Now that the company has decided to say long term, sweeping renovations will begin at 3010 Briarpark.

DIRECT ENERGY, 105K SF, 2 HOUSTON CENTER, DOWNTOWN

Houston's 12 Largest Office Leases Of The Year

Direct Energy took advantage of the leasing market to downsize its Houston footprint. The electricity retailer is in the process of moving from its 191K SF space in Greenway Plaza to its new 105K SF space at 2 Houston Center. Brookfield Properties’s Houston Center is in the midst of a renovation, adding glass facades, new finishes and redesigned common spaces. Gensler, the architect behind the renovations, is also designing its own new office at 2 Houston Center.

HOUSTON METHODIST, 100K SF, 4800 FOURNACE PLACE, BELLAIRE
4800 Fournace Place
Chevron’s former 30-acre campus in Bellaire has been the subject of much speculation since the energy giant listed the campus for sale in 2016. Last year it found a buyer, SLS Properties, which invested heavily in site improvements, most notable of which was a new parking garage. Now the campus has a new tenant, Houston Methodist, where the hospital system will execute its administrative duties.


Julio Laguarta, ‘Father’ Of The Texas A&M Real Estate Center, Dies At 86

Julio Laguarta, one of Houston’s strongest supporters of ongoing education in commercial real estate, died Jan. 3. He was 86. Born in Galveston and raised in Houston, Laguarta graduated from the University of Texas at Austin business school in 1956 with a Bachelor of Business Administration. He began working in the commercial real estate sector shortly after graduation and co-founded a land brokerage firm, Laguarta, Gavrel & Bolin, in the early 1960s. “Beyond being the only Houston Realtor in our history to ever go on to serve as president of the National Association of Realtors and being the driving force behind the creation of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Julio was a true gentleman in every sense of the word,” Houston Association of Realtors CEO Bob Hale said. Laguarta’s son, Kirk, who works in commercial real estate as a broker with Land Advisors Organization, called his father an advocate for the profession. “My father was a true leader in the Houston real estate community for many years. He was never too busy to help with forwarding the causes of the real estate community as is evidenced by his long-standing involvement with HAR, TAR, NAR and the Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University,” Laguarta said. “He will be greatly missed by our family and the many folks he touched in the Houston community.” In 1969, Laguarta and his partners were hired by Texas Eastern Corp. to assemble 75 acres in Downtown Houston. That land today includes iconic developments including the Houston Center, the George R. Brown Convention Center and Discovery Green. Beyond his firm, Laguarta had a vision for boosting research and ongoing education within the Texas real estate landscape. That vision evolved into the Texas A&M Real Estate Center, the largest publicly funded organization devoted to real estate research in the U.S. Inspired by the Center for Real Estate and Urban Economic Studies at the University of Connecticut, Laguarta set out to create a Texan equivalent. After approaching multiple universities with his proposal, an agreement was finally reached with Texas A&M University, and the Real Estate Center was established in 1971. Laguarta was appointed to a six-year term on the Center’s first advisory committee and was also elected its first chairman.

Texas A&M, which refers to Laguarta as the father of the Center, went on to establish the Julio S. Laguarta Professorship in Real Estate Scholarship in 1981 to honor his achievements in the field and key role in furthering real estate education. The endowed professorship is within the Mays Business School at the university. Among his many accomplishments, Laguarta held both SIOR and CCIM qualifications and was highly involved with HAR. He became president of HAR in 1967 and was Houston Realtor of the Year in 1968. Laguarta continued to oversee several notable organizations during his career. He became president of the CCIM Institute in 1973, president of TAR in 1975 and president of NAR in 1982. He was also a co-founder of the Houston Realty Breakfast Club, which started in 1967 and is still in service today. Alongside his many professional achievements, Laguarta helped launch the careers of many figures active in the Houston commercial real estate community today. “Julio helped me get my first job out of law school in 1969 at the Texas Association of Realtors. He was my mentor, adviser and most importantly best friend,” Hale said. “I, along with the other 40,000 members of HAR, are better off for having his leadership, and worse off now that he is gone.”


JLL Capital Markets announces that it has closed the sale of Harms Road Business Park, a five-building industrial park totaling 124,000 square feet in Houston’s highly sought-after Northwest Industrial submarket.

JLL marketed the property along with NAI Partners on behalf of the seller, United Equities, Inc. Finial Group, in partnership with Senterra LLC, purchased the asset.

Completed in phases between 2014 and 2018, Harms Road Business Park comprises five single-tenant, crane-served industrial buildings. The park features clear heights ranging from 28 to 30 feet, 22 overhead doors, overhead cranes with capacities ranging between 10 and 20 tons and high-quality office space. Situated on 9.37 acres at 7204-7214 Harms Road, the park is less than 2.5 miles from the U.S. 290 and the Sam Houston Tollway (Beltway 8) interchange, which provides tenants with easy access to the Houston MSA. Harms Road Business Park is within Houston’s Northwest submarket, the largest of Houston’s submarkets.

The JLL Industrial Capital Markets team that represented the seller was led by Managing Director Trent Agnew, Director Charlie Strauss, and Analyst Ethan Goldberg as well as NAI’s Travis Land.

“Harms Road Business Park is a highly successful development located within the core of Houston’s Northwest submarket,” said Agnew. “Our JLL team, in partnership with Travis, were able to put together an off-market trade that highlights the desirability of opportunities that offer some additional leasing upside in today’s capital markets environment.”

About United Equities, Inc.

United Equities, Inc. was founded in 1971 as a small brokerage, management and leasing company. Today, the company’s portfolio has grown to include over three million square feet of retail and industrial space. United Equities is a full-service commercial real estate organization providing development, redevelopment, build-to-suit, acquisition, management and leasing services across Texas, in addition to nationwide tenant representation. The Austin office opened in 2004, followed by the Dallas office in 2006, to better meet the needs of an expanding client base. Visit unitedequities.com for more information.

About Finial Group

Finial Group is a full-service commercial real estate firm that provides service focused, turnkey solutions to their client’s commercial real estate needs. The Finial Group offers investment, development, leasing, asset management, and construction management services all under one roof. The Finial Group’s team members are dedicated to building the most revered brand in commercial real estate and maintaining an unrivaled reputation for the quality of service and ability to execute. For more information please visit finialgroup.com or contact the Finial Group by email at info@finialgroup.com or by phone at 713-422-2100.

About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. Our vision is to reimagine the world of real estate, creating rewarding opportunities and amazing spaces where people can achieve their ambitions. In doing so, we will build a better tomorrow for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $16.3 billion, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 93,000 as of September 30, 2019. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit jll.com.


JLL To Buy Peloton Commercial Real Estate

Commercial real estate giant JLL announced plans to purchase Peloton Commercial Real Estate Thursday. The merger will effectively pull Peloton’s Dallas and Houston offices into JLL’s agency leasing and property management business lines.  Ricky Bautista, Unsplash Downtown Dallas As part of the merger, more than 130 Peloton employees will be joining JLL. The acquisition is expected to close in the next few weeks, with Peloton co-founding partners Joel Pustmueller and T.D. Briggs and JLL’s Jeff Eckert leading the statewide integration efforts.  Pustmueller and Briggs will work directly with the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston offices while Eckert will oversee Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas-Fort Worth as the teams integrate.  Peloton Property Management partner John Myers will be named regional leader of property management for DFW. “This is a momentous step in our journey to become a market-leading player in Texas,” said David Carroll, JLL market director for the South Central Region. “With the exceptional growth we have seen in those markets, Peloton’s position as a leading provider of leasing and property management services will greatly enhance our business capabilities and breadth of services. Just as importantly, we look forward to working with a team of professionals that share JLL’s strong commitment to collaboration and culture.” JLL has a long history of growing via mergers and acquisitions, including closing the $2B acquisition of HFF July 1. One of its most notable acquisitions in Texas was bringing The Staubach Co., led by Dallas Cowboys elite quarterback Roger Staubach, into its fold in 2008. Peloton is a leasing and property management firm that launched in 2002. It manages or leases more than 25M SF for clients.

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