09/20/16 3:15pm

SHELL’S DOWNTOWN OPERATIONS TO SHED OFFICES, SCURRY OVER TO LARGER WEST HOUSTON CAMPUSES One Shell Plaza Office Tower, 910 Louisiana St., Downtown HoustonMore than half a decade after the local fretting about it started, Shell has announced that it will leave One Shell Plaza, writes Cara Smith this morning. Moreover, the company will drop nearly all of its other Downtown holdings as well, including the previously announced removal of recently-ish acquired BG Group from BG Group Place. Smith writes that the only announced exception to the pullout is Shell’s trading group at 1000 Main; the rest of the company’s downtown workers will move by early 2017 into either the Technology Center at Hwy. 6 south of Richmond Ave. or into the company’s Woodcreek campus along I-10 (south of the Addicks reservoir). [HBJ; previously on SwamplotPhoto of One Shell Plaza: Antonio Foster-Azcunaga

08/02/16 3:45pm

Westlake Four, 200 Westlake Park Blvd., HoustonPlease don’t turn around and stare, but suddenly another entire office tower in the Energy Corridor has become available for lease — all 20 floors of it. Any takers?

So far, only one of the 2 extremely available towers appears to qualify as a genuine see-through building — that would be the 22-story completed-but-never-occupied Energy Center Four, at N. Eldridge Pkwy. and I-10, which back in June ConocoPhillips announced it was giving up on moving into but hoped some other company (or 32) would sublease from them. And now from Nancy Sarnoff comes the other dropping shoe: energy company BP, announcing that by early next year it plans to vacate Four Westlake Park, aka WestLake Four, a little more than a mile west along the freeway feeder road, at 200 Westlake Park Blvd. BP has 7 years to go on its lease for that 22-year-old property from New York-based Falcon Real Estate Investment Management.

Photo of Westlake Park Four: Steven Baker

Getting Lonely on the Katy Fwy.
07/28/16 3:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW GREENSPOINT COULD TURN OVER A NEW LEAF fig-leaves“A 50 percent occupancy rate created because a company moved a slew of employees to a shiny new corporate megacampus is a good thing.  . . . This is just a good composting of office space. The piles of old office space will turn into new low cost space that will hopefully attract some diversification for the Houston economy.” [Old School, commenting on Comment of the Day: Don’t Try To Lump All That Empty Houston Office Space Together] Illustration: Lulu

03/08/16 2:30pm

Renovation of Sunset Coffee Building at Allen's Landing, Downtown, Houston, 77002

A shiny new cistern is now in place at the former Sunset Coffee building at Allen’s Landing, which Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Houston First have been redeveloping into an office-topped boat-and-bike-rental spot.  The 1910 coffee roasting facility has once again donned walls after moving past a Summer 2014 minimalist phase, and is currently decked out in a muted Café du Monde orange.

The no-longer-see-through structure is back to limiting the view from the Harris County Jail across the bayou (visible on the far right, above). A set of stairs are in place alongside the new cistern, along with railings around what appears to be the planned rooftop terrace.

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Nearing Launch at Allen’s Landing
02/29/16 10:15am

Fisher Homes, 832 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77007

Fisher Homes, 832 Yale St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77007

The custom home and office building of Heights homebuilder Fisher Homes at 832 Yale St. is currently up for sale or lease. Construction on the just-under-15,000-sq.-ft. building south of 9th St. wrapped up near the end of 2014; the property listing indicates that availability started in January of this year.

Amenities at the Morrison Heights and Studemont Mid-Rise developer’s mixed-use space include an indoor basketball court, downtown views from the above-3rd-story rooftop terrace, and various conference rooms. Floorplans of the building show the middle-of-the-house driveway (which provides access to the backyard parking lot) separating a 437-sq.-ft. apartment (circled in dotted red below) from the main structure:

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For Sale on Yale
02/26/16 3:00pm

Demolition of Solvay America Building, 3333 Richmond, Greenway Plaza, Houston, 77098

A reader caught a glimpse of the 1992 Solvay America building taking some more nasty blows from a demo crew out back behind the new 3737 Buffalo Spdwy. office tower south of the corner with Richmond Ave. (That’s the 2727 Kirby condo highrise glancing over at the scene from the right edge of the shot, while the distant Huntingdon tower looks away.) [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Lufti Rukab

Octa-goner
02/25/16 12:30pm

609 Main St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Update, 5pm: In an email sent to the Houston Business Journal, a spokesperson for the airline confirms that 609 Main will become United’s Houston headquarters. This story has been updated.

A source tells Swamplot that United Airlines is about to announce an upcoming flight to the new tower rising at 609 Main St. Employees were briefed this morning on plans to move into Hines’s 41-plus-7-more-story skyscraper going up on the former site of the 1931 Texas Tower. The source says that United’s operations at 1600 Smith and 600 Jefferson streets (formerly known as Continental Center I and II, in the days before the 2010 merger of the 2 air giants) will be consolidated into the new space.

United employees may get a little lift from the underfloor air system incorporated into the tower’s design. The Chicago-based company should also feel at home moving in with fellow northern exports Kirkland & Ellis; the law firm announced its tenancy in the building back in December.

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With The Wind Beneath Their Feet
12/22/15 11:30am

Proposed Modifications to 800 Bell St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

Permits were issued yesterday for construction of a new tunnel concourse below 800 Bell St. —  the Louisiana tunnel will be tied into the new digs planned beneath the former ExxonMobil building, at the corner of Bell and Milam downtown.

Following Exxon’s gradual withdrawal north to its new Woodlands campus, the Bell St. building is being completely redone — beneath a fancy new hat, the structure’s exterior fins will be engulfed in a new glass skin to add 100,000 sq.ft. of floorspace to the building. Eric Anderson told the HBJ last year that the only part of the building that wouldn’t be replaced is the concrete.

Renderings and site plans from architects Ziegler Cooper now provide a glimpse into plans for the basement and coming tunnel connections as well:

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800 Bell St.
04/23/15 12:00pm

Landry's Proposed Post Oak Hotel Complex, 1600 West Loop South, Galleria, Houston

“Remember, I’m the guy that took the old fire station and made it an aquarium,” Tilman Fertitta explains to Nancy Sarnoff. “I took the old Flagship and made it the Pleasure Pier. I took an old fishing village and made it the Kemah Boardwalk.” All of which might help explain the simple concept behind the Landry’s CEO’s latest venture: taking a surface parking lot next to the Landry’s corporate headquarters near the Galleria and turning it into a 35-story hotel-apartment-office-tower with a 2-story auto showroom in front, then filling out the rest of the 10-acre site with a parking garage and couple of pad-site restaurants facing the West Loop southbound feeder.

A row of 4 large lit-up diamonds facing east across the freeway will festoon the forehead of the Gensler-designed tower at 1600 West Loop South. Fertitta calls the not-really-a-sign a “subtle message.” It’s meant to stand in for the 4 diamond shapes in the Landry’s logo — dining, hospitality, entertainment, and gaming — though until a few pesky laws can be changed not all can be offered on site.

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Landry’s Post Oak
04/22/15 2:00pm

WHEN SYSTEMS BREAK DOWN East Downtown, HoustonA reader writes: “The non-profit I work for is currently looking for a new office. We found a great location in East Downtown, near the new rail line, recently renovated, and a great price. It is essentially our dream office. During the lease negotiations the realtor said that after 90 days into the 3 year lease, if any plumbing, electrical, or HVAC issues arise, we would be responsible for paying it. Including any replacement and labor. When countered with a ‘no,’ the realtor stated that this was a normal practice in Houston and ‘good luck trying to find a place that will let you get away with that.’ Being new to this process, we are curious if this is true. The current office we are in does not require that and I personally have not heard of it other places.” Photo: Russell Hancock

03/18/15 4:30pm

2621-N-main-04

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Looking a bit like a bricked-up, tricked out Americanized Florentine chapel, a solidly built property facing N. Main St. east of I-45 could swing either way. The property would work as a home or office, the listing suggests. (The second level could be a separate unit.) In a relisting this week after a 9-month break from the market, the undecided property knocked more than $100K off its previous ask, bringing the price tag to $249K. Back in May 2014, the sellers wanted $355K. But even that price was a second whittle for the property. It had first hit the market in June 2012 at $485K, but several adjustments had brought the price down to $385K before the listing expired 6 months later. In other words, the property is available now for just over half of the previous offering’s peak price.

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On the Line
07/08/14 10:15am

DE-MAD-MEN-IZED DOWNTOWN EXXONMOBIL TOWER REMINDS ME OF MY DOCTOR’S OFFICE, COMPLAINS CHRON COLUMNIST Lisa Gray, already on record as a non-fan of Shorenstein Realty’s plans to remove all the distinctive sun-shading fins from the soon-to-be-former ExxonMobil Tower at 800 Bell St. downtown (and incorporate all the space they occupied into the floor plates), says the sleek new video (with only semi-robotic, live-action scalies!) put out by the San Francisco real estate company (embedded at right; click in bottom right corner to see it full-screen) reveals that the renovation plans for the building are “even worse than I thought.” What’s the problem with removing what’s left of the building’s Mad Men-era accoutrements, and sheathing the recaptured space with shiny glass? The video shows that Downtown architecture firm Ziegler Cooper’s resulting design will be “a dead ringer,” she claims, for the Memorial Hermann Medical Plaza tower at the northern tip of the Med Center at 6200 Fannin. That building was designed by the firm’s Uptown-ish rival, Kirksey Architecture. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Video: Transwestern

06/27/14 2:00pm

HAL-PC Headquarters, 4543 Post Oak Place Dr., Post Oak Park, Houston

Map Showing HAL-PC Headquarters, 4543 Post Oak Pl., Post Oak Park, Houston The Houston Area League of PC Users will be moving out of its ghost town of a 6,665 sq. ft. headquarters space in the sleepy 2-story office building at 4543 Post Oak Place Dr. a bit later than its originally announced deadline of the end of 2013. But HAL-PC isn’t leaving (as it declared last year) to find some more suitable space with more attractive rents and fewer parking problems, and so the building can work its way to a new identity as an assembly of medical clinics; it’s leaving on account of the organization is shutting down entirely. By a vote of the board of directors earlier this week, HAL-PC has chosen to disband.

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User Group Deprecated
04/16/14 4:45pm

ExxonMobil North Houston Campus Under Construction, Springwoods Village, HoustonExxonmobil began moving the first workers into its new campus south of The Woodlands last Friday, a source tells Swamplot. Among the first to make the trek to the former pine forest (pictured at left, with workers in formation, during construction last year) near the intersections of I-45, the Hardy Toll Road, and the latest segment of the Grand Parkway: employees of the ExxonMobil Development Company, who’ve been working in Greenspoint for more than a dozen years.

Photo: ExxonMobil

It’s Moving Month!