Look around Seabrook today and the signs of progress are clear. “The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the City of Seabrook have the last buildings going down. All the necessary parcels have been acquired and the remaining buildings have been demolished for the footprint of the project,” says City Manager Gayle Cook. “Visually, it’s really made a change here in the past month or so.” The project, of course, is the long-awaited widening of State Highway 146 from four lanes to up to 12. Discussed for decades, TxDOT just got started on construction in February 2019. “They’re getting close to the end of Phase 1, which includes the widening of the Clear Creek bridge by adding one additional travel lane, plus a 14-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle lane and utility work,” Cook says. In Phase 2, crews will continue work on the bridge, create a new southbound frontage road and build the bulk of a new express bridge. Phases 3 and 4, expected to be finished in the next five years, will rebuild and raise SH-146’s main lanes, as well as complete the express bridge and add more greenery and landscaping. It’s a massive undertaking in the community that’s about 30 minutes south of Houston. Click to read more at www.rednews.com.
Texas has awarded Microsoft Corporation a nearly $4.9 million grant as part of economic incentive deal that will bring hundreds of new jobs to the company’s Las Colinas office. Microsoft is expanding its operations in Las Colinas with $31 million in investments and the creation of 575 new jobs, according to a news release from the office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. The grant comes from the state’s Texas Enterprise Fund, which is a “deal-closing” grant for companies considering investments in Texas, according to the Governor’s Business and Community Development Division. “We are excited that Microsoft has renewed its commitment to Irving-Las Colinas and believe it’s a testament to our business-friendly climate and high quality of life for companies and their employees,” Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer said in the release. “As a valuable corporate stakeholder in our community, we look forward to working with Microsoft as it builds [its] workforce and creates thousands of valuable technology jobs in Irving.” Click to read more at www.communityimpact.com.
DALLAS – Texas employment will grow 2.1 percent this year, according to the Texas Employment Forecast by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Based on the forecast, the state will add 263,700 jobs this year. Employment in December 2019 will reach 12.9 million. This prediction comes after incorporating September 2019’s annualized employment growth of 0.7 percent and a decrease in the leading index. “After strong growth in June and July, Texas jobs decelerated in August and September,” said Keith R. Phillips, Dallas Fed assistant vice president, and senior economist. “The weakness in oil and gas extraction is spilling over to other sectors such as transportation and warehousing, which experienced job losses in both August and September. “Manufacturing employment continues to grow at a good pace, however, in part driven by continued strength in petrochemical and refining activity. Construction activity also remains robust.” Click to read more at www.recenter.tamu.edu.
When Steve Hubbs began working at Houston-based Key Maps two decades ago, you could say the map-making industry was a little different than it is today. The company’s books of grid maps were the go-to navigational tool for everyone from emergency responders to pizza delivery drivers. “There was definitely a heyday when we were the only source in town for any kind of maps,” Hubbs laughs. “Then GPS came along.” These days, the grid maps can serve as an excellent backup when you’re in a pinch. “Throw a Key Maps book in your trunk or wedge it between your seats,” suggests Hubbs. “If your phone’s dead and you’re lost, you’ll at least be able to navigate your way through the streets.” When he acquired the company nearly three years ago, Hubbs understood the changing times meant he needed to adapt. The era of map books had faded, but the public’s fascination with cartography had not. Click to read more at www.rednews.com.
The Lamar Hunt family, which owns the Kansas City Chiefs football team among other diversified holdings, is making a play for Houston industrial real estate. Dallas-based Hunt Southwest Real Estate Development plans to develop a speculative building that will contain up to 509,600 square feet at 17440 U.S. 59 in Humble near Bush Intercontinental Airport. The site was purchased from JM Texas Land Fund No. 2 LP for an undisclosed sum. “We really looked all over the Houston metro area for the right site for our first development in the Houston area,” said T. Preston Herold, senior vice president of Hunt Southwest. “It’s tough to find a well-priced and well-located industrial site in the Houston area. We think we found one with the 59 Logistics Center site.” Click to read more at www.mysanantonio.com.
Vacancy rate at 21.6%: The vacancy rate in the Houston office market was close to unchanged quarter-over-quarter, up 10 basis points from Q2 2019. The amount of vacant office space on the market is approximately 51.1 million sq. ft.—comprised of 47.6 million sq. ft. of direct space and 3.5 million sq. ft. of sublease space. The Central Business District vacancy rate is at 24.9%, up slightly from this time last quarter at 24.7%, while the Energy Corridor vacancy rate is at 32.7%, down 70 basis points from 33.4% in Q2 2019. Net absorption moved into positive territory at 58,000 sq. ft. compared to this point last quarter when the total was negative 700,000 sq. ft. The increase was primarily due to significant move-outs in Q2 2019 that included HP vacating 260,000 sq. ft. at 11403 Compaq Center W. Dr. and BP vacating nearly 195,000 sq. ft. at Three Eldridge Place in the Energy Corridor. Of the almost 2.5 million sq. ft. currently under construction—57% of which is being constructed downtown, about 35% of that space has been spoken for. The overall Houston average asking full-service rent has steadily grown over the past years to its current rate of $29.32 per sq. ft., while the Central Business District is averaging $41.41 per sq. ft. Click to read more at www.naipartners.com.