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Gov. Abbott creates strike force, eases medical restrictions and more in the plan to slowly reopen Texas

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a series of executive orders Friday, April 17, with several directives meant to gradually reopen the state.

First, the governor is establishing a strike force that includes medical experts, business leaders, educators, and political leaders. This team will work together to find safe and effective ways to slowly re-introduce Texans to their usual way of life.

He said key members of the strike force include Rep. Dennis Bonnen, Attorney Gen. Ken Paxton, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and attorney Glenn Hegar.

The force will also have advisers from the business community such as jeweler Kendra Scott, Gallery Furniture owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, and restaurateur and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta.

The strike force is broken into four core groups: economic revitalization, health care, and fiscal accountability and federal liaison.

One of the biggest announcements regarded school districts and universities, which are closed for the rest of the school year.

On April 27, Abbott said he will announce additional guidelines for the reopening of Texas.


Texas allowing nonessential retailers to do ‘to-go’ services

As part of his plan to reopen Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott will loosen restrictions on non-essential retailers and service next week.

Beginning April 24, businesses that are not essential but can be provided their product or services through pickup, delivery by mail or direct delivery to the customer’s home will be allowed.

This directive allowing to-go retail services is one of three executive orders Abbott announced Friday, April 17.

In the meantime, dining in at restaurants, food courts and bars remain closed. The same applies to gyms, massage establishments, tattoo and piercing studios, beauty salons.


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Gov. Greg Abbott Friday unveiled his plan to gradually reopen Texas, and it includes loosening some restrictions on surgeries.

Under the governor’s executive order in March, only surgeries and procedures that were “medically necessary to diagnose or correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient” were allowed.

Other surgeries and medical procedures were canceled so Texas hospitals could make room for COVID-19 patients and focus resources on them.

Under the new executive order, there will be some exceptions beginning April 22.


Commercial real estate brokers working in Houston’s already struggling office market were hit by yet another challenge when the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the city.

But some are viewing it as an opportunity to reconnect with clients.

Like many business professionals in this time of coronavirus, real estate brokers have become well versed in making video calls from their homes.

“Right now, many clients just want to hear a friendly voice or see a friendly face while they’re stuck at home,” said Taylor Wright, a vice president on the occupier advisory team in Colliers International’s Houston office.

Wright said the number of leases being signed has fallen sharply in recent weeks as both tenants and landlords struggle to determine the degree of COVID-19’s impact on their businesses. But deals are still getting done.

One of Wright’s clients recently signed a lease for a significant amount of space, and he has been hired to handle another lease for a client looking to move into a new space. However, most of the deals that are closing are renewals, he said.

With in-person tours of office space off the table thanks to social distancing mandates, Wright said most clients are holding off on making moves. Add to that the financial uncertainty created by the combination of COVID-19, plummeting capital markets and dismal oil prices, and many businesses are focusing on keeping cash in reserve, rather than paying for costly office build-outs.

That said, Wright views the current state of affairs as a chance to check in on clients on a personal level, without having business get in the way.

“Most of the time, we’ll talk about what they’re watching on Netflix and whether they’ve seen something we haven’t,” Wright said. “No one knows what the impact of all of this uncertainty will be. Sometimes, it’s just nice to see how people are doing.”

The blow to Houston’s office market caused by COVID-19 couldn’t have come at a worse time.

With office vacancies hovering around 20 percent, the market had already shifted heavily in favor of tenants. That has left landlords and property owners scrambling to launch costly remodel projects in order to compete with new, high-end buildings coming online. Many of those projects were already underway when COVID-19 hit.

The largest office project underway downtown is Houston-based Hines’ Texas Tower, which is slated to open at 845 Texas Ave. in late 2021. The 47-story, 1.1 million-square-foot tower is already 38 percent preleased. Law firm Vinson & Elkins has agreed to lease 214,000 square feet, Hines will occupy 155,000 square feet, and law firm DLA Piper is taking a 31,000-square-foot floor.

But even with the challenges facing the market, brokers still have a role to play, Wright said.

“The biggest thing a real estate professional can be right now is a resource for clients who just need information in an uncertain business climate,” he said “Being able to provide knowledge of what the terms of a lease are or where the opportunities are can be a huge benefit for clients right now.”


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, 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 is 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, 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.”


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.”

 

The boutique small real estate firms of Houston are now even smaller. Chicago-based Cushman & Wakefield purchased Colvill Office Properties and now more Houston local brokerage offices are being absorbed by the largest brokerage firms in the world. Chip Colvill, the founder and former president/CEO of Colvill Office Properties, joins Cushman & Wakefield as Executive Vice Chairman.


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.”


There’s a sophisticated new restaurant in one of downtown’s most prestigious buildings but you wouldn’t know it from the street. That’s because Adair Downtown is at the tunnel level, connected to Wells Fargo Plaza at 1000 Louisiana by the snaking system of underground pathways.

Quietly open for a few weeks, the restaurant is already being discovered by downtown office workers as a new dining destination with a slick menu that covers breakfast, lunch and after-work happy hour with a full bar offering wines and craft cocktails. Tenants of the 71-story tower — one of Houston’s premier Class A office buildings that is home to Wells Fargo Bank, PwC accounting, and top law firms – now have a handsome dining room with bar and patio to entertain clients.

“We are beyond thrilled to have Adair Downtown in the tower, and we are excited to offer this thoughtfully curated addition to our amenity base for our tenants,” said Marilyn Guion, senior vice president for CBRE, the commercial real estate firm that manages the building.

The building’s owners tapped Adair Concepts (Adair KitchenEloise Nichols Grill & Liquors, Skeeter’s Mesquite Grill, Los Tios Mexican Restaurants, Bebidas, and Betsy’s at Evelyn’s Park) to bring their restaurant know-how to the project designed by Gensler Architects and Houston-based McGarr Design & Interiors. The sophisticated, 4,628-square-foot buildout on the southeast corner of the tower may be at tunnel level but it is washed with natural light. The unusual construction takes advantage of an existing patio space that is accessible both from the street level, the tunnel system and the building’s lobby.

LOS TIOS ON TOP: Popular Tex-Mex restaurant opens beautiful new flagship restaurant in Tanglewood

The space includes a coffee bar clad in white subway tiles; a retail area with grab-and-go meals, fresh flowers, and upscale packaged foods; the main dining room with waiter service; a full bar; and a patio. The look is chic: walls of glass, marble and herringbone-patterned hardwood floors, antique mirrors, tufted banquettes, bistro tables, antique mirrors, and globe lighting fixtures. It’s a chic look (perfect for a power lunch) that looks plucked from River Oaks.

“It’s a tunnel restaurant that doesn’t feel like the tunnel,” said Nick Adair, who along with his sister, Katie Adair Barnhart, oversee operations for Adair Concepts. The partners describe the French bistro-looking space as “Eloise Nichols meets Adair Kitchen,” a nod to two of the hospitality company’s brands.

It is those brands that guide Adair Downtown’s food and beverage menus. Breakfast options include avocado toast, breakfast tacos, chicken and waffles, omelets, steel-cut oats with fresh berries, and breakfast bowls filled with rice, kale, sweet potatoes, black beans, avocado, and a poached egg. Lunch includes salads (kale and quinoa salad, Thai chopped salad, citrus Caesar) and bowls (superfoods bowl, tuna poke bowl) as well as lemon artichoke soup and tortilla soup. But there are also entrees such as grilled pesto salmon with cilantro rice; chicken paillard with arugula salad; New York strip steak sandwich on a baguette with peppercorn sauce; turkey club sandwich; and a classic beef burger and a veggie burger. The menu is overseen by executive chef Roberto Ozeata, culinary director for Adair Concepts.

After lunch, the space segues into its bar bites menu to pair with beer, wine, and spirits. The bar menu includes tuna tartare, cheese board, sliders, bruschetta, fried calamari, caramelized Brussels sprouts, fried asparagus with cilantro ranch, beef tenderloin crostini, guacamole and chips, hot chicken with house pickles, and meatballs with garlic bread.

The bar offers cocktails, an extensive collection of bourbon and scotch, wines by the glass ($11-$18) and bottle ($40-$178), and beer including local brews from 8th Wonder, Saint Arnold, and Karbach.

Barnhart said the company has longed to be part of the downtown dining scene. Adair Downtown, she said, offers office workers a place that can be both casual and artisan – “unique to what you’d expect from a downtown dining experience.”

Company founder Gary Adair said that his restaurant businesses were built on “being local and neighborhood-y.” Adair Downtown manages to bring that type of dining experience to a part of town not traditionally seen as local or part of a neighborhood, he added.

Adair Downtown, 1000 Louisiana; adairdowntown.com. Open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (serving breakfast 7 to 11 a.m.; full-service lunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; full bar and bar bites 3 to 8 p.m.).

 


Olin Corp. is renovating a 62,500-square-foot office building in Lake Jackson to create a Technology and Administration Center that will serve as the main building for its Texas operations. The Missouri-based chemical manufacturer will consolidate more than 200 employees from seven area offices to 604 Highway 332 when renovations are completed this summer.

Olin, which has 1,200 employees in the Freeport area, worked with the building owners to create a collaborative work environment. The building, which allows room for future growth, will have a training hall with seating for 130. Dallas based owner/developer St. Ives Realty and partner LandPlan Development are leading the construction. Houston-based Osborn & Vane Architects designed the renovations and LSI Construction is handling construction. Olin will maintain its office in the Energy Corridor.

San Antonio-based Kairoi Residential was hired by a joint-venture of Argosy Real Estate Partners and InvestRes to provide property management services for Kingsland West, a 305-unit apartment community at 18325 Kingsland Blvd. in the Katy area. The joint venture acquired the property, which had been damaged by Hurricane Harvey and subsequently renovated, in November 2018.

Spring Branch Independent School District purchased a 22,381-square-foot warehouse on 4.7 acres at 2425 Campbell Road, from Camnora Ltd. Brad Elmore of NewQuest Properties and John Leggett of Leggett Properties represented the seller, a partnership that includes several investors who live in Spring Branch. The site, originally planned for townhome development, will be used for the expansion of Northbrook High School. PBK is the architect for the project, while Satterfield & Pontikes will handle construction.

Mond Properties purchased a vacant 95,170-square-foot office building at 10500 Richmond Ave. David Carter and Jeff Peltier of Colliers International assisted the seller, a commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) trust represented by special servicer LNR Partners. The building, which lost Worley Parsons as its sole tenant in 2018, is on five acres at the corner of Richmond and Rogerdale in the Westchase District.

Hackbarth Delivery Service leased 49,701 square feet at 1350 Salford Drive. Harper Gully with CBRE represented the tenant. Ed Bane with Bridge Commercial Real Estate represented the landlord, Stonelake Capital Partners.

Riverstone Property Management purchased an 18,643-square-foot office building at 1000 FM 1960 W. from A-K Texas Venture Capitol. David K. Meyers of NewQuest Properties represented the seller. Friedman Real Estate represented the buyer.

Othon leased 13,761 square feet at 575 N. Dairy Ashford. Gary Lawless and Dustin Cruz with Cresa represented the tenant. Steve Rocher and Kristen Rabel with CBRE represented the landlord, I-10 EC Corridor #2 LP.

Zohra and Riyaz Momin purchased a 3,380-square-foot four-plex at 415 W. Polk St. in Montrose. The buyers plan to fix up the 1930s building and rent the suites. Jojo Tharayil of Excel Realty Co. represented the buyers. Cotton Munson of Davis Commercial represented the seller, GFK Associates.

Advanced Analysis leased 7,150 square feet at Wynwood Business Park, 7245 Wynnpark Drive. Will Austin with Bridge Commercial Real Estate represented the tenant. Garret Geaccone and Boone Smith with Stream Realty Partners represented the landlord, KKR.

Associated Energy Group/AEG Fuels, a provider of aviation fuel and services, subleased 5,630 square feet at 8686 New Trails Drive in the Woodlands. Ryan Dierker of Newcor Commercial Real Estate represented the subtenant. Angela Barber and Tim Gregory of JLL represented the sublessor, ETCL Woodland LLC.

JobSparx, an employment resources firm, renewed its 2,655-square-foot office lease at 14500 Torrey Chase. Zack Wheeler with Newcor Commercial Real Estate represented the tenant. Jason Gibbons of the Finial Group represented the landlord, 14500 Torrey Chase LLC.

 


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