Imminent eminent domain: How public projects are impacting Texas landowners

BY BRANDI SMITH

From pipelines that cross the state to high-speed rail plans that cut Texas in half, massive projects are underway that have a significant impact on property owners all over the Lone Star State. REDNews touched base with eminent domain expert, David Showalter, to discuss the biggest implications.

Showalter, who got started in real estate law in 1977, has over 40 years of experience in real estate law. In addition to real estate development, he has handled hundreds of eminent domain cases in that time. His clients are a healthy mix of landowners, special-use properties, homeowners and business owners, large and small.

“This broad experience helps us because we see all facets of the process and how it affects different types of owners,” says Showalter. “We are more aware of, and sensitive to, the different ways that owners of property can be damaged and we can analyze each of those aspects in every case and make sure we’re covering all the ways they’ve been harmed so that they get full compensation along the way.”

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Shipping Containers: The building blocks of the future

BY BRANDI SMITH

You’ve undoubtedly seen the viral images as they appeared on your social media timeline: shipping containers gaining new life in architecture. The giant steel boxes, which were built to withstand the stress of shipment, storage and handling, have proven themselves a new tool for builders.

The trend started in Europe, where the containers have been used to create everything from apartments to homes to buildings, such as London’s famed Container City. The idea recently transitioned across the pond to the U.S. Here, developers and consumers are examining the benefits of using containers to build or add interest to projects.

That includes Bill Wetterman, who had been wondering what to do with the century-old downtown Waco building he’s owned for going on 20 years.

“With all the activity and redevelopment, as well as traffic from The Silos, it was just time to utilize the building for something,” he says. “Waco has such tremendous tourism going on right now, we wanted to seize on that.”

The building is located on 4th Street, two blocks from the Magnolia Market, basically next door to the historic Dr. Pepper Museum and four blocks off the river, on the one-way entry into downtown Waco off of U.S. 35.

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Reflecting on RECon: Reflecting on RECon: Texas CRE professionals weigh in on retail’s biggest week

BY BRANDI SMITH

Beyond the extravagant booths and limitless networking opportunities, this year’s ICSC RECon offered something even more valuable: excitement and optimism about the industry that has garnered so many pessimistic headlines.

“The attendees, from retailers to brokers to developers and other market players, were all upbeat and positive,” says Marshall Mills, President and CEO of Weitzman, which has offices in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. “These are people on the front lines of our business, and that positive outlook reflects our own assessment that we’re in the middle of a strong
market for retail real estate.”

JLL Houston Retail Land Brokerage Associate, Chris Bergmann, pointed to the attendance and attitude of ICSC as a clear indication that “retail is alive and well,” while Simmi Jaggi, a Senior Vice President and Houston Retail Land Brokerage Lead for JLL, highlighted the “sheer energy and positivity of the entire conference.”

“It seemed as though all 37,000 people in attendance were busy and actively pursuing a variety of opportunities,” she says.

For Jennifer Pierson, Managing Partner of Dallas’s STRIVE, the gathering was affirmation that “everything is happening exactly as it should.

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Sights Set on Seabrook

SH 146 construction promises more lanes, more opportunities

BY BRANDI SMITH

For about 20 years, an air of uncertainty hung over the future of Seabrook. Everyone knew TxDOT was bound to make changes to State Highway 146, but no one could say what it
would look like when all was said and done.

“The idea was to alleviate traffic congestion and ultimately link it to the Grand Parkway. That was its ultimate goal,” explains Paul Chavez, the city’s director of economic development.
“But that uncertainty stifled a lot of new developments in our community.”

He says investors were hesitant to pour money into a project without knowing when construction would begin and what it would look like.

“They need to know with confidence that what they’re buying and putting into place will still be there and will grow,” Chavez says.

Any proposed changes to SH 146 were usurped by other construction for a couple of decades, but when Hurricane Ike hit, the devastating storm and the evacuation it
prompted highlighted that an expansion was overdue.

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Using a Natural Drainage Approach to Enhance Real Estate Development Projects

BY MICHAEL F. BLOOM, P.E.
R.G. MILLER ENGINEERS, INC.

Houston area real estate developers have traditionally used concrete parking areas, concrete streets, and pre-cast concrete storm sewer systems to convey rain water quickly and efficiently to “end-of-pipe” detention basins or underground cisterns. From there, the collected rainwater is discharged into nearby streams or bayous or the public storm sewer system at a restricted rate to avoid downstream flooding from storms smaller than the design storm.

Suburban developments are typically disconnected from their nearby streams in favor of locating homes and businesses around the detention basins, which are often designed with permanent pools water and are viewed as manicured “lakes” by future residents. Urban developments typically place stormwater systems underground– out of sight and out of mind.

There is an alternative, however: natural drainage systems – also known as “low impact development (LID)” or “green stormwaterinfrastructure (GSI).”

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Leverage for Lending: Texas’ market creates new opportunities

BY BRANDI SMITH

When oil prices started to drop a few years ago, they pulled Houston’s economy down with them. It took a big toll on the city built on black gold. Late in 2017, a barrel of crude started to
become more valuable, helping Texas’ largest city bounce back.

That rebound is being noticed in just about every sector of the economy, including commercial real estate lending.

“We’re starting to see an uptick in transactions, in buyers and investors looking and more actively approaching properties,” says Bill Dampier, vice president of commercial lending for City Bank. “I think the increase in the price of oil has re-energized the market. It has given investors more optimism in regard to kicking the tires and looking for good buying opportunities.”

Beyond the city limits of Houston and even the borders of Texas, Dampier says there is a lot of capital out there, which means competition among investors. Additionally, it’s likely interest rates will only continue to climb and real estate isn’t getting any cheaper. That means finding a deal might take a bit more effort than it has in the past.

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