04/16/10 11:17am

WHEN ALL THOSE CORNERS WERE ITCHING FOR BANKS Coming soon to a courthouse near you: Ponderosa Land Development Co. and the bank corner that got away: “Ponderosa bought nearly an acre in Sugar Land three years ago from Gateway Financial for a price of $1.8 million. The land at the corner of State Highway 6 and Settlers Way was purchased for development of a JP Morgan Chase Bank branch. Over the past five years, Ponderosa has built about 50 bank branches in Texas for Chase Bank. [Ponderosa’s James] Chang says Ponderosa had already secured a long-term ground lease with the bank, and an investor was lined up to buy the property once the building was complete. Shortly after the land acquisition closed in April 2007, Ponderosa demolished a gas station that was operating on the site to prepare for construction of the bank branch. In the process, Ponderosa learned that the Sugar Land site carries a deed restriction prohibiting construction of a financial institution. The alleged oversight on the part of AmeriPoint [Title] in conducting a title search put the brakes on development. ‘Missing the restriction was kind of an important miss,’ says Chang. Stewart Title wrote a title insurance policy based on AmeriPoint’s work. . . . Ponderosa filed suit in July 2008 to recover the $1.8 million land purchase price. The firm is also seeking $1.6 million for three years of lost profits. Ponderosa tried to collect on the firm’s $1.8 million title insurance policy, but Chang says Stewart Title claims the diminished value of the land is $200,000.” [Houston Business Journal]

07/06/09 2:29pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HIGH-POWER DEVELOPERS “I bet if you look at many of the biggest boondogles in Houston history, they will have the fingerprints of ambitious energy players attached. That said, the city would have been a more boring place if, say, Glenn McCarthy hadn’t built the late, lamented Shamrock Hotel.” [RWB, commenting on La Maison in Midtown: The Power of a Good Night’s Sleep]

01/15/09 2:15pm

TRAMMELL CROW, 1914-2009 Real estate developer Trammell Crow, the founder of Trammell Crow Company (now a part of CB Richard Ellis), died yesterday in Tyler at the age of 94. “He relied on hundreds of young leasing agents to fill the buildings, and those who proved themselves talented and hardworking became partners. This approach marked the evolution of Crow’s then-unusual methods of working in the real estate industry. As he brought in new people to work on residential and commercial projects, he gave them an equity stake in the business. Crow explained that he believed the projects would thrive if the people managing them were partners rather than employees. He said people worked harder when they had a stake in the company. Biographer Robert Sobel said Crow had another reason for using the partnership strategy: By offering equity instead of pay, he conserved his capital for putting up buildings.” [Associated Press]

05/08/07 11:06am

Missouri Street Lofts by Catera Development

Just last year, the Wall Street Journal warned homeowners about the dangerous consequences of taking new easy-to-use consumer software design tools into their own hands. Now Houston gets to see what happens when developers commandeer these same computer programs.

Coming soon: The Missouri Street Lofts, a six-pack of townhouses now under construction in the heart of Montrose. You can see them online now, though, modeled in cartoon-worthy earth tones using Google Sketchup—free 3D drawing software anyone can download and learn in just a few minutes.

After the jump, townhouse developers demonstrate their mastery of Sketchup’s ultra-wide camera angles, giving us bird’s-eye views of tight interiors and more!