Landscape view of city of Houston

 

The annual Rice Business Plan Competition was canceled for 2020 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

The Rice Business Plan Competition was scheduled to take place at Rice University between March 26 through 28. RBPC is one of the largest student startup competitions in the world.

“We received word Sunday evening that Rice University, with guidance from the Rice Crisis Management Committee, is prohibiting all on-campus public events and gatherings with more than 100 people to minimize close contact among large groups of people,” according to a statement on the RBPC website.

Rice has canceled all classes at the university for a week citing fears of spreading the coronavirus as the cause. Conversations were had about holding the event in an alternative way, but it was found to not be possible.

“We have successfully run the competition for 19 years, and we were very excited to host and celebrate the 20th edition later this month,” per the statement.

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Memorial Hermann Health System, Houston’s largest health system, opened a new 17-floor critical care tower at its Texas Medical Center hospital.

Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center’s new tower, dubbed the Susan and Fayez Sarofim Pavilion, began accepting emergency room patients effective Feb. 20, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Susan and Fayez Sarofim, the billionaire behind Houston-based investment firm Fayez Sarofim & Co., donated $25 million for the project — the largest gift Memorial Hermann had ever received when it was announced in February 2018. The Sarofim Pavilion was part of a roughly $700 million renovation and expansion project at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, according to Memorial Hermann.

“The Sarofim Pavilion enables Memorial Hermann to stay ahead of the fast-growing advances in medicine, keep pace with the extraordinary growth of the greater Houston metropolitan region and, most importantly, meet the health needs of our community for years to come,” David Callender, president, and CEO of Memorial Hermann said in a news release.

The new 17-floor tower has more than 140 patient rooms; 24 operating rooms, including three hybrid ORs; a 335-seat cafeteria dubbed the Arboretum Café; and 900 new parking spots. Sarofim Pavilion also is the new home of the Red Duke Trauma Institute at Memorial Hermann-TMC — one of two adult Level 1 trauma centers in Houston.

Operations for Memorial Hermann’s air ambulance service, Life Flight, moved on top of the new tower. The new John S. Dunn Heliport is 10,000 square feet larger than the old helipad and is capable of handling the weight of a Black Hawk helicopter.

“As the Houston community is growing by leaps and bounds, the need for access to quality health care increases exponentially,” Susan Sarofim, chair of the Memorial Hermann Foundation board between 2015 and 2017, said in the release. “Memorial Hermann has stepped up to the plate to deliver a new facility with greatly increased patient capacity and state-of-the-art equipment. Fayez and I are so proud to support Memorial Hermann as the health system continues to deliver award-winning, innovative care to the Houston community.”

Construction began on the Memorial Hermann-TMC expansion in 2015. The building of Sarofim Pavilion took over 5,500 workers and 3.5 million man-hours, according to Memorial Hermann. Houston-based Vaughn Construction served as the project’s general contractor.


PEARLAND – HCA Houston Healthcare recently broke ground on the HCA Healthcare Center for Clinical Advancement, a new, state-of-the-art training center.
NAI Partners’ Griff Bandy, Partner, and Joe Bright, Senior Associate, represented HCA in the transaction for the 48,400-SF. ground-up new build located at Pearland Town Center, 11200 Broadway Street, just west of Texas 288.
The project is scheduled to open by early 2021. The healthcare organization signed a long-term lease for this specialized build-to-suit.
The training center will have high-fidelity hospital simulation labs, connected classrooms and de-briefing rooms, where the health system’s nearly 7,000 nurses will receive ongoing clinical education and training.
“We’re extremely pleased to have been able to find the perfect solution for HCA in the heart of Pearland Town Center, and honored to play a small role in helping bring a healthcare training and meeting facility of this magnitude to fruition,” said Bandy.
“This was a complex deal given our client’s specific requirements,” added Mr. Bright.
HCA Houston Healthcare officials will gather with shovels and hard hats at the site of the HCA Healthcare Center for Clinical Advancement for an official groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, February 26.
“The HCA Healthcare Center for Clinical Advancement is a significant part of our strategic nursing plan to support and grow our nurses as the differentiator at our hospitals and other facilities,” says Kelli Nations, chief nurse executive at HCA Houston Healthcare, one of the city’s largest healthcare systems. “It certainly helps us raise the bar for nursing care in Houston.”

​​​​​Elite 25sm, the premier membership organization for luxury real estate agents, has announced its expansion in Spring 2020 with the launch of chapters in Houston and Dallas, Texas. Established in 1994 and based in Austin, Texas, Elite 25sm  represents a city’s top luxury residential agents, providing ample opportunities to increase exposure, bolster reputations, network with fellow top luxury agents and stay educated on real estate trends and happenings. Beyond the value for members, Elite 25sm also presents an incomparable asset for buyers and sellers, taking out the guesswork of finding an agent.

“We’re excited to bring this exclusive opportunity to luxury realtors in the largest real estate markets in Texas,” said Tony Trungale, Managing Director of Elite 25sm and a Senior Loan Officer with PNC Bank. “This organization has proven to be an invaluable resource for our members, allowing unmatched time and space for networking and dealmaking.”

Founding Elite 25​ Austin member Cindy Goldrick of Wilson & Goldrick Realtors said of the group: “I’ve been a member of Elite 25sm in Austin since its inception 25 years ago and it has been an essential part of my real estate career and success. Elite 25sm membership provides individual agents recognition as verified leading producers of high-end homes and, equally important, it offers camaraderie with other top agents and the opportunity to network. I’ve been excited and motivated to work to meet the criteria each and every year.”

Members apply on an annual basis and are chosen based solely on production numbers, ensuring a true representation of the city’s top professionals. Criteria for membership varies year to year, but eligibility begins with a minimum of four homes sold each over $1 million. In 2019, each of Austin’s 34 members sold at least eight homes over $1 million – a major marker of Austin’s booming housing market – for a staggering collective sales total exceeding $1 billion.

“In today’s fiercely competitive market, Elite 25sm is the perfect platform to provide a competitive edge for my clients,” said Dara Allen, Broker Associate and Sales Manager for Compass Austin. “All members of Elite 25sm are experts in the luxury market and our monthly luncheons – always in a member’s fabulous new listing – give us the opportunity to share coming soon and pocket listings.”

Elite 25​ Houston and Elite 25​ Dallas will continue under the leadership of Tony Trungale, with Advisory Board members to be announced. Marketing efforts will continue to be managed by Commission.Co, a boutique Austin-based agency specializing in social media, video, and design for luxury and commercial real estate.


Houston’s commercial property values will continue to trend upward in 2020 as demand for development opportunities expands amid the region’s positive job growth, according to Deal Sikes, a leading Houston-based valuation firm.

“Although there are a few exceptions, the real estate market in Houston is headed for another good year,” said Mark Sikes, a principal with Deal Sikes. “The region’s economy is healthy and although the energy industry is in a lackluster period, the overall economic outlook is outstanding.”

Houston’s industrial market is attracting interest from around the nation and research indicates that more than 15 million square feet of warehouse space are under construction in the Greater Houston area.

“Prices for land or urban infill development property has risen significantly in recent years,” Sikes said. “Rising land prices have pushed the wave of industrial development farther away from the center of the city and outer suburban land prices have increased accordingly.”

Property values in the urban core of the city remain strong as developers and builders locate buildings for redevelopment or seek sites that are appropriate for new construction, Sikes said.

“Multifamily construction is strong in Houston and researchers report more than 25,000 units are now under construction, although the pace is expected to be slightly more moderate in 2020 as the new inventory is absorbed,” Sikes said. “Investor demand is good and multifamily valuations have not yet peaked in most submarkets.”

Newer office buildings and Class A towers under construction are leasing briskly, although Houston’s office market is the most sluggish sector.

The Texas Medical Center, where more than 100,000 people are employed, is a source of growth for Houston and several hospitals and research facilities are expanding.

“Houston’s commercial real estate values will be on a solid upswing in 2019,” said Matthew Deal, a principal with Deal Sikes. “With Houston expected to gain population significantly in the next decade, the long-term forecast must include rising property prices that will be very impressive over the long haul.”


Lee & Associates was awarded the leasing and management of five Houston office buildings totaling 430,000 square feet in 2019.

The company’s landlord agency team will lease and manage 550 Westcott (83,366 square feet); 4101 Interwood (80,000 square feet); 1505 S. Highway 6 (63,487 square feet); 16430 Park Ten Place (110,408 square feet) and 10101 Southwest Freeway (102,292 square feet).  The buildings range from Class A to Class B.

“Our recent success has been due to the depth of our team and the focus we have on technology and platforms for today’s digital marketplace,” Robert LaCour, Lee & Associates principal said in an announcement.

Lee & Associates added a property management group in 2019. The company specializes in commercial real estate services for office, industrial and land real estate investments


Marcus & Millichap (NYSE: MMI), a leading commercial real estate investment services firm with offices throughout the United States and Canada, has announced the sale of The Shops at Champions, a 16,112-square foot retail property located in Houston, Texas, according to Ford Noe, Regional Manager of the firm’s Houston office.

Alex Wolansky and Gus Lagos, investment specialists in Marcus & Millichap’s Houston office, had the exclusive listing to market the property on behalf of the seller, an individual/personal trust. The buyer, a private investor, was secured and represented by Gus Lagos.

The Shops at Champions is located at 6265 Cypress Creek Parkway in Houston, Texas.

About Marcus & Millichap (NYSE: MMI)

With nearly 2000 investment sales and financing professionals located throughout the United States and Canada, Marcus & Millichap is a leading specialist in commercial real estate investment sales, financing, research and advisory services. Founded in 1971, the firm closed 9,472 transactions in 2018 with a value of approximately $46.4 billion. Marcus & Millichap has perfected a powerful system for marketing properties that combines investment specialization, local market expertise, the industry’s most comprehensive research, state-of-the-art technology, and relationships with the largest pool of qualified investors.


A little while back, I wrote about how an emerging new category of workplace alternatives are attracting attention from both the venture community and some of the commercial real estate’s biggest players.

One such company is Austin-based Swivel, which has developed an agile leasing platform and network. The startup just raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Jim Breyer of Breyer Capital (who’s also backed the likes of Facebook and Spotify). Breyer is contributing $5 million of the capital. JLL Spark, the venture arm of commercial real estate brokerage giant JLL, put up the remaining $3 million. The financing brings Swivel’s total raised to $14.6 million, according to its Crunchbase profile.

Swivel raised an $850,000 seed round in 2016 and then another $1 million in June 2017. In 2018, the company brought in another $4.8 million in what Swivel founder and president Scott Harmon described as a Seed 2 round.

The startup has been testing its model across Texas, mostly in Austin and some in Dallas and Houston.

“Everything seems to be proven right and working,” Harmon told Crunchbase News. “So we raised this round to scale up nationwide.”

How it works

Harmon founded Swivel in late 2016 with some initial incubation capital from Floodgate. He and Floodgate Co-Founder Mike Maples had started and sold a software company together in the late 1990s called Motive and decided they wanted to work together again.

They both had a passion for “simplifying the office,” Harmon said and felt like the commercial real estate office market needed to be disrupted.

Swivel Founder Scott Harmon

So how does it work? Pre-qualified member companies can contract with Swivel’s landlord partners for turnkey office space on flexible terms with little or no upfront capital expenditure and no lease lock-in.

Landlords use the company’s agile leasing platform to backstop their leases for member companies. (I wrote about a similar startup, Landing, recently that is focused on flexible apartment leases). Using Swivel, leases are typically a 12-month commitment with a maximum of four years.

Clients are able to use Swivel’s software to configure and design the space however they want; most offices are between 3,000 and 10,000 square feet. Companies need only to give 60 to 90 days notice before moving out and they are not charged any penalties or move-out fees and don’t have to deal with subleasing.

Since its network launch in 2019, Swivel has signed up over 30 landlords representing more than 150 properties across Austin, Dallas, and Houston.

What it is and what it’s not

Harmon is quick to point out that unlike other flexible workspace operators such as WeWork or Knotel, Swivel is not a landlord. It does not lease space.

“We’re more like a VRBO for office space,” he told me. “People who own properties use our technology and platform to lease to new tenants on more flexible terms. Landlords make the money and share their profits with us.”

For example, a landlord can open up two floors in a building specifically to be listed via Swivel. They can charge a (10 to 20 percent higher) price per square foot because of the flexible terms, but it will still come out to about half the cost of a co-working space, Harmon said. The swivel will completely furnish the space, and “the building becomes more valuable,” according to Harmon.

“We work with hundreds of landlords,” Harmon said, “and we allow them to make more money by bringing a different kind of client into their building and providing a new class of service.”

Swivel is also not out to replace commercial real estate brokers, opting instead to partner with them so it saves money on marketing as well. It works out well for all involved, Harmon said.

Looking ahead

Swivel’s target market is tech-enabled companies in their growth phase, which make up about half of the tenants leasing through its platform. (It works with tenants such as Dremio, Graylog, Guideline 401k, hOp, Plivo, Samcart, TalentRobot, and Verify.)

The process is a more appealing one to tech upstarts that simply prefer a more digital process in general.

“They’re just used to the flexibility and that sort of convenience in other parts of their lives,” Harmon said.

But Swivel has also helped a number of multinational companies that require flexibility for their satellite offices.

The company plans to use its new capital primarily to expand across the U.S. in 2020. It is in talks with landlords in Boston, New York, Northern Virginia, Charlotte, N.C., Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Utah, Denver, and San Francisco.

“Expansion cities are a finite list and expand based on how our landlord partnerships unfold,” Harmon said. “Landlord partners will determine the order and timing of opening up each market.”

For his part, Breyer believes Swivel’s business model is an ideal approach to help landlords be able to meet the evolving needs of tenants.

“As a VC, one of my mantras [to portfolio companies] is ‘don’t sign anything longer than two years,’ ” Breyer told me. “Real estate hasn’t kept up with that, as the leasing business hasn’t yet been tech-enabled, particularly in very important markets, like Silicon Valley and Austin.”

In general, he also believes flexible leases will become more and more important in general given workforce needs.

“The next generation thinks about flexibility first and foremost,” Breyer told me. “Swivel gives landlords the opportunity to attract the tenants of the future.”


Rendering of the Hewlett Packard Enterprises project which is under construction north of Houston.

A joint venture of Patrinely Group, USAA Real Estate, and CDC Houston, announced the start of construction on a two-building campus for the offices of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, north of Houston.

Scheduled for completion in spring 2022, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise development will consist of two 5-story buildings located at the southwest corner of East Mossy Oaks Road and Lake Plaza Drive and include 440,000 SF of rentable space.

Located in Spring, this development will house the fourth major corporation to choose CityPlace at Springwoods Village, joining HP Inc., Southwestern Energy and the American Bureau of Shipping.

“Breaking ground on HPE’s campus is another major milestone reinforcing CityPlace as the most important and vibrant, 18-hour mixed-use destination in north Houston,” said Robert Fields, President, and CEO of Patrinely Group, the managing partner of the joint venture. “2019 was a significant year with the opening of ABS headquarters, the HP Inc. campus, Star Cinema Grill, 24 Hour Fitness, and two Class A multi-tenant buildings, CityPlace 1 and 1401 Lake Plaza Drive.”

Pickard Chilton is the design architect; Kirksey is the executive architect; REES is the interior architect; D.E. Harvey Builders is the general contractor. Ronnie Deyo, John Roberts and Beau Bellow of JLL represented Hewlett Packard Enterprises. Dennis Tarro of Patrinely Group, and Chrissy Wilson and Russell Hodges of JLL represented the landlord.

The project will have a parking garage with 2,055 spaces.

CityPlace is a 60-acre mixed-use development providing the growing area along the Grand Parkway corridor near the 3 million-SF Exxon Mobil campus.

When fully developed, the project will include a full-service Houston CityPlace Marriott, 8 million SF of Class A office space with 500,000 SF of retail space and multifamily projects.

The development’s five to 10-story Class A office buildings will offer parking at a ratio of up to 4.5 cars per 1,000 rentable square feet, with spaces located in all structured parking.

CityPlace is the commercial center of Springwoods Village, a 2,000-acre master-planned community, 20 miles north of downtown Houston.

 


Atlanta Developer Launches 540-Acre Intermodal Port Near Houston

Atlanta-based Stonemont Financial Group recently launched phase one of its 540-acre Southwest International Gateway Business Park in El Campo, Texas, around 60 miles southwest of Houston.

“We have officially closed on the land and completed all of our designs, and we’re in the process of breaking ground as we speak,” Stonemont Financial CEO Zack Markwell told FreightWaves during an interview Wednesday.

The new park, which could house up to 8 million square feet of industrial space, is located along Interstate 69, almost midway between Houston and San Antonio, and about 200 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.

The first phase of construction will include two warehouses: a 125,000-square-foot distribution center and a 200,000-square-foot speculative warehouse. The park will have full intermodal and transload capabilities once completed in 12 to 15 months, according to Stonemont officials.

Vitro Chemicals, a subsidiary of Monterrey, Mexico-based Vitro, has already signed on as a tenant for the 125,000-square-foot distribution center. Vitro is one of the largest glass manufacturers in the world.

Markwell said another reason they picked El Campo was to capitalize on its location along the Kansas City Southern Railway NYSEKCS.

“We have been working with KCS for the last four to five years in finding the optimal location where we had frontage on their line and then also frontage on I-69,” Markwell said. “All of that is a very strategic location to the Houston market, but also the important markets of San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas.”

KCS’s major hubs include Kansas City, Missouri; Shreveport, Louisiana; New Orleans; Dallas; and Houston. KCS’s Mexico-based affiliate, Kansas City Southern de México (KCSM), operates across northeastern, central, southeast-central and southwest-central Mexico.

Markwell said by connecting the new industrial park to the KCS rail line, Mexico-based manufacturers can use KCS for cross-border shipping from their factories in Mexico, all the way to the park, and closer to major distribution centers in Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas.

Tenants will also benefit from customs preclearance that enables users to bypass rail and highway backups at the border crossing, as well as avoid backlogs of truck and rail traffic at existing regional parks and ports closer to the congested Houston metro area.

“Our manufacturers in Mexico are moving the border north — if you think about it that way — where they are coming from Mexico, coming to Laredo today and then breaking down and either drawing from that point or staying on and switching carriers and going throughout the United States and distributing back into Texas,” Markwell said. “What we’re doing is moving that border north to just 62 miles outside of Houston and serving it from that point.”

The park will also be part of a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), with additional local and state economic incentives available for tenants.

Ridgeline Property Group, an Atlanta-based commercial real estate development firm, is partnering with Stonemont to develop Southwest International Gateway, Business Park.

Pittsburg, Kansas-based Watco Companies will operate the short line railroad connecting the buildings to the KCS mainline. Houston-based NAI Partners will oversee leasing at the park.