Some 300 business executives packed into the Houston Marriott Westchase on April 26 for the Bisnow program, The Future of Westchase, to hear a high-powered panel of experts discuss how Westchase District has remained one of the most active commercial real estate submarkets in Houston for so many years, and the key factors that will keep it strong.
Jim Murphy, general manager of Westchase District, set the stage for the program on Westchase’s future prospects by pointing out that the District is the workplace for 81,000 employees and home of about 2,000 businesses. He touted the District’s historically low tax rate, emphasized security, amenities and infrastructure improvements and maintenance.
Moderated by Jeff Webb, vice president and operations manager for Old Republic Title, the panel included Chip Colvill, president of Colvill Office Properties, Scott Martin, executive managing director for Granite Properties in Houston, Scott Fikes, vice president of Avison Young, Ron Lindsey, managing vice president of development for AmREIT, Philip Schneidau, president & CEO of BMS Management and member of the Westchase District’s Board of Directors.
Webb kicked off the discussion by asking Martin why Granite Properties decided to take the risk of building a new 300,000-square-foot office building in Westchase. “When we looked at it, it was fairly obvious with the dynamics that are going on in Houston right now,” responded Martin.
The three newest office developments in the area, including Granite’s Westchase Two building, are fully leased, which is certainly an indication that tenants are selecting Westchase. “Developers like Granite, who hit the ground first, are going to do well,” said Colvill.
When Webb asked how having a strong management district impacts development, Schneidau replied, “The District has done a good job of maintaining the infrastructure. They work well and complement with the City. In some cases, where the City can’t quite do some things, they’ve gone over and beyond.” Schneidau pointed out the extensive work done by the District to improve the landscaping of street medians and how Westchase has been proactive on public safety with extensive use of off duty HPD officers.
The subject then shifted to a discussion of what kind of major tenants are choosing Westchase, making it appear like an energy corridor.
“At least 50 percent of the tenants in Westchase are energy related,” observed Colvill.