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Howard Hughes Corp. Acquires 2,000 Acres of Land for Residential Development

14 Aug 2014, 6:22 pm

By Liviu Oltean, Associate Editor

Dallas-based Howard Hughes Corp. revealed in its second-quarter earnings report that it has closed on 1,343 acres of undeveloped land 13 miles north of The Woodlands. Furthermore, it has entered into a sale and purchase agreement slated to close in September 2014 to acquire 652 adjacent acres from a different seller.

The company plans to use 1,834 acres for residential development and 161 acres for commercial development. According to HHC’s estimates, the land will yield more than 4,600 lots, of which the first are expected to be finished and sold in 2016.

The Woodlands Aerial

The master-planned community at The Woodlands is well underway, with more than 2.4 million square feet of new office space in development, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. In addition, to the south of The Woodlands, there is another gargantuan development – the Exxon Mobil campus, a 385-acre development designed to accommodate more than 10,000 employees.

Given the tremendous amount of office space under development and the fact that The Woodlands is running out of developable land, it comes as no surprise to see interest in creating even more housing in the neighboring areas, a trend also suggested by the company’s earnings report:

“The market for residential land in The Woodlands remains strong. The average price per detached single-family acre at The Woodlands increased 10 percent, or $62,000, to $683,000 for the three months ended June 30, 2014, compared to $621,000 for the same period in 2013. Average price per detached single-family finished lot decreased slightly, from $168,000 to $163,000, due to smaller average lot sizes sold in second quarter 2014 compared to second quarter 2013.”

Photo courtesy of The Woodlands Convention & Visitors Bureau

MetroNational Announces Grand Opening of the Treehouse in Memorial City

7 Aug 2014, 4:59 am

By Liviu Oltean, Associate Editor

The Treehouse in Memorial City

MetroNational recently announced the completion and grand opening of the Treehouse Memorial City, a two-story, 14,700-square-foot structure designed to emphasize Houston’s architectural prowess and innovation. Acting as an office, general meeting point and showroom, the Treehouse will be home to all of Memorial City’s current and future development activities, including master planning, architecture, construction and interior design.

Aptly named, the structure has an impressive array of green features: a geothermal cooling and heating system, daylight harvesting lights and a green roof complete with solar panels, a rainwater collection system, a wind turbine and a rooftop garden. In addition, the design mirrors the outdoors through such features as use of interior columns wrapped in custom-made tree-like woodwork and conference room tables made from tree trunks. The quaint development offers on-demand wireless connectivity, wireless screen sharing and interactive whiteboards, and a lobby with monitors that track the weather, traffic and various other metrics. All in all, MetroNational’s treehouse is well on its way toward receiving LEED Platinum certification.

As we reported, Memorial City is a 265-acre mixed-use development that runs along the Interstate 10 corridor. It encompasses approximately 7.6 million square feet of developed real estate, including the 1.7 million-square-foot Memorial City Mall, The Westin Memorial City Hotel and the Memorial Hermann Medical Center, the second-largest medical campus in the Houston metro area.

“We take pride in being market leaders and adopting advanced environmental standards and practices that demonstrate our commitment to corporate social responsibility. The Treehouse is an inspiring environment that ignites imagination and serves as a creative collaboration center for us and our valued partners,” said Glenn Fuhrman, AIA, vice president of design & construction at MetroNational. “We are proud that the Treehouse is a highlight of our continuing sustainability efforts and the company’s dedication and emphasis to building for the future.”

Photo courtesy of MetroNational

AmREIT Declines Regency’s Unsolicited Acquisition Proposal

31 Jul 2014, 3:35 am

By Liviu Oltean, Associate Editor

Regency Center Corp. announced three weeks ago that it offered to acquire AmREIT Inc. for $22 per share. The unsolicited acquisition proposal represented a 20 percent premium, based on the average closing price of AmREIT’s common stock over the last 30 days, and also exceeds AmREIT’s all-time-high stock price by more than $2 a share.

According to Regency’s official statement, the offer represents a solution to AmREIT’s difficulties in accessing capital due to its smaller size in contrast to other public REITs. AmREIT will also benefit by being able to grow same-property NOI and by accessing a stronger balance sheet that offers readily available capital for growth, Regency declared.

“We believe that there is a strong strategic, financial and operational rationale for the combination of Regency and AmREIT. We are confident that this transaction is in the best interests of both companies’ shareholders and have a great interest in moving forward toward the negotiation of final terms and documentation. Importantly, we are willing to offer either cash or stock consideration, or a combination of the two, such that AmREIT shareholders could receive immediate and certain value for their shares and/or the opportunity to participate in the combined company’s upside potential,” said Hap Stein, Regency’s chairman & CEO.

On the 29th of July, AmREIT officially refused the acquisition proposal, announcing that its board of directors plans to seek out alternative strategies to improve stockholder value.  In order to assure a fair assessment of alternatives, the board decided to make the company subject to the Maryland Business Combination Act, which prohibits certain mergers between the company and potential stockholders who own 10 percent or more of the voting power of AmREIT’s voting stock. With this measure, they ensure an orderly review of all the alternatives feasible for the company.

“Given the value of our unique assets, robust development pipeline and promising future prospects, supported by our top-of-class platform, our board believes that now is the right time to conduct a thorough review to determine how best to continue to enhance stockholder value, and we are taking appropriate action to ensure a thorough evaluation,” the company said.

CNL Healthcare Buys Specialty Hospital for $76M

25 Jul 2014, 3:10 am

By Liviu Oltean, Associate Editor

In a $76 million deal, CNL Healthcare Properties Inc.  has acquired  the Houston Orthopedic & Spine Hospital campus (HOSH). The transaction represents the largest single-property investment to date for the Orlando, Fla.-based REIT, which specializes in senior housing and healthcare properties.

Located  at the intersection of Interstates 69 and 610 in the Galleria submarket,the asset consists of a 126,946-square-foot specialty hospital, a 99,768-square-foot multi-tenant medical office building and two dedicated parking structures.

The hospital includes 64 private beds, 10 operating suites and a wide array of imaging services. HOSH was naned one of Houston’s top surgical units in 2013 by Consumer Reports. According to a statement released by CNL Healthcare, Lincoln Harris CSG will handle leasing and management of the campus.

“The HOSH campus is an exceptional addition to our expanding healthcare portfolio, allowing us to further enhance and diversify our holdings,” said Stephen H. Mauldin, president & CEO of CNL Healthcare Properties. “Strategically positioned in the nation’s fifth largest metropolitan area, HOSH’s management and providers have earned an outstanding reputation for delivering the highest quality services and patient care.”

HOSH joins CNL Healthcare’s extensive senior housing portfolio in Texas, which also includes assets such as The Watercrest at Bryan, the Isle at Cedar Ridge in Cedar Park, The Springs Alzheimer’s Special Care Center in San Angelo and the Raider Ranch-Development in Lubbock. Nationally, CNL Healthcare’s portfolio comprises 78 assets in 26 states that represent a $1.37 billion investment.

Image Courtesy of CNL Healthcare Properties

Woodbranch Plans New Residential High-Rise for Downtown Houston

17 Jul 2014, 3:35 pm

By Liviu Oltean, Associate Editor

The plethora of office projects either under construction or close to breaking ground in Houston has given real estate companies incentive to focus on more and more residential projects.  One such project is Market Square Tower, a 40-story luxury high-rise on which Woodbranch Investments Corp. plans to break ground in coming weeks.

Market Square Tower will feature residences ranging from 550-square-foot efficiencies to 1,950-square-foot units, with a limited number of penthouses also included in the project plans.  The average layout will have approximately 1,275 square feet, with a rent of roughly $3,500, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. According to an official statement, amenities will include a virtual golf simulator, an indoor basketball court, a screening and banquet room, and two pools – one near the bottom and one near the top of the tower.

Market Square Tower Rendering by Jackson & Ryan Architecture, Courtesy of Woodbranch Investments Corp.

“But perhaps most unique to the Houston market,” said Philip Schneidau, president of Woodbranch’s Houston office, “will be Market Square Tower’s wrap-around rooftop amenities, which have breathtaking panoramic vistas of the downtown Houston skyline and Buffalo Bayou Park  – all from 500 feet above street level.” The rooftop amenities include a cloud lounge, sky gym, sundeck and sky pool. A portion of the sky pool is encased in glass, including the bottom, and cantilevers beyond the face of the building.

The tower’s design is being handled by Jackson & Ryan Architecture, which also designed other Houston-area multifamily properties, such as Museum Tower and the Post Oak Lofts in the Galleria area.

Located at 777 Preston, the site has been owned by Woodbranch since 1995 and is a full city block bounded by Milam, Preston, Louisiana and Congress. The tower will be in the neighborhood of another residential project expected to be completed by fall 2016 – Hines Market Square, a 33-story, 289-unit building featuring ground-floor retail and a podium garage. Another potential development in the area is International Tower, a 41-story, 750,000-square-foot office tower from Stream Realty and Essex Commercial Properties.

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