Friday, August 29, 2008

Galleria Buildings OFF and ON again.

High-dollar office buildings proposed across the street from each other in the Galleria area have met with diametrical fates.
The TIAA-CREF office tower scheduled to replace the 24 Hour Fitness Center on Post Oak is going forward in even bigger fashion than originally planned.
The Simmons Vedder & Co. office building contemplated for the Willie G’s Seafood & Steak House site is off and the owner is negotiating with an unidentified bidder for the site.
Around the corner, a third office building planned at 1600 West Loop by The Novati Group will not break ground Sept. 1 as previously planned. The firm says an equity partner is in place, but debt financing can’t be found in struggling capital markets. See or

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Common terms in Commercial Real Estate

Each building is unique in the benefits it offers to its tenants and the costs that the landlord passes on to the tenant. In this regard, there are many things to consider and below are a number of those factors that will significantly vary from building to building. Here is a list of the topics covered in this section, Load Factors; Loss Factors; Common Area Factors, After-Hours Air Conditioning, Physical Condition and Property Management, Parking, Elevators, Security, Signage, Expansion Rights, Gross-up Leases, Annual Rental Increases, Damage/Destruction, and New Ownership. These information comes curiosity of the following great web site:


Load Factors; Loss Factors; Common Area Factors:
In general this refers to the shared common areas in a building. By design, the loss factor can vary from 0% up to 25%. Generally Class A and B professional office buildings are designed with about 15% of the edifice allocated to lobbies, hallways, common area restrooms, elevators, columns, and stairwells. These factors will directly influence your rent. For example, if an office space is measured at 4,000 SF and the loss factor for the building is calculated at 15%, 600 SF (4,000 x .15) will be added to the usable square feet to account for that proportionate share of commonly used areas in the building. In this example the landlord will charge rent on 4,600 rentable square feet.
Note: Elevator banks located in the center core of the building rather than the side and an abundance of columns in the leased space can contribute to a higher load factor.

After-Hours Air Conditioning:
In full service office buildings, the air conditioning is often run on a chiller system. The air shuts off at the end of the building's "business hours", typically 6:00 P.M. Monday through Friday and 1:00 P.M. on Saturday. Usually, owners of full service buildings charge tenants a premium, typically $30.00 to $50.00 per hour, to run the air after business hours. These additional A/C charges could significantly burden a company's operating expenses. Many companies and professional practices sign leases without even thinking about this issue in advance. For example, accounting professionals in tax season work and run their A/C around the clock for approximately 2 months. To quantify the impact of this example, consider the following: 6:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. Monday through Friday, 1:00 P.M to 5:00 P.M. Saturday and 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Sunday totals 32 additional hours per week times 4 weeks totals 128 hours at $40.00 equals $5,120.00/month or over $10,000 extra during high season - for air conditioning. This happens when businesses work without a professional that has in-depth market knowledge and is advocating for their best interests. Additionally, landlords are aware that this is a great profit center for them. If your company often works after hours, this issue needs to be considered and negotiated prior to signing the lease.

Physical Condition and Property Management:
Most people consider only the physical appearance of what they can visually see; however, other items must also be considered that are not as obvious. These factors include the quality and age of the roof (especially in South Florida), the quality, type and age of the a/c systems, integrity of construction of the building, ability of the windows to withstand 150 mph hurricane winds, redundancy of the telecommunication systems, and resistance to environmental issues like mold and mildew. Prior to signing a lease agreement, familiarize yourself with the answers to those issues and be sure the property management company is proactive rather than reactive or even passive or evasive. These latter management styles are challenging for tenants in older buildings and/or with long term leases. Especially in South Florida, when selecting a building, carefully consider the air-conditioning system and its history for it could turn out to be your worst nightmare.

Many buildings don't properly address the parking issue; however, parking is often a major concern. If there is insufficient space, you or your clients may be forced to park blocks away and walk to the building in the blazing heat or pouring rain. Your company must know what rights they have to parking spaces and what repercussions they have if a landlord does not properly manage the parking ratio. Prior to leasing, it would help to know what tenants are currently in the building and who is negotiating to lease space that may negatively impact the parking situation. Oftentimes, parking is very limited in central business districts and the impact of one new tenant can make a big difference. You may have no control over tenants that take occupancy after you sign the lease, but you do have the ability to negotiate this issue in advance so that you are protected in this regard.

What goes up must come down, but you may come back down by stairs or be stuck between up and down for a while. Beware of older buildings with original elevators. Do not be deceived by stylish new aesthetics in elevator cabs. If you lease in a building that was built prior to 1980, verify the reliability and speed of the elevators, especially in mid-rise to high-rise properties. If you have not done your homework on this issue, it could prove to be a major source of frustration to you, your employees, and your clients.

Security has had new meaning since September 11, 2001. A rent-a-cop in uniform used to be o.k. as a deterrent to theft; however, today there are more serious security concerns. You need to make sure that the company providing security is established and thorough in providing a high-quality service.

Signage visibility may be unimportant to a collections company who would rather remain anonymous; however, signage may be very important to a high profile accounting, architectural, or law firm. Generally, whether a company can obtain signage depends on the amount of space that they intend to lease from the building. Monument or roof-line signage is generally reserved for the larger and most credit worthy tenants. Visible signage may be the pivotal factor in a leasing decision for some prospective tenants.

Expansion Rights:
When selecting a space in a building, you should learn whether or not any tenant in the building can have the right of first offer or refusal to space adjacent to yours or anywhere that will impact your business. If your company has any intention of expanding or renewing at the end of the lease term you must have this information to know if you will be landlocked or at risk in the future. Do not place yourself in the precarious position of being at the landlord's mercy. The time to secure your place in the building by providing for expansion rights and your "right of first refusal" is at the time of your initial lease negotiations.

Gross-up Leases:
In most cases landlords have provisions incorporated in their template leases for the operating expenses or Common Area Maintenance costs to be passed through to the tenants. In this case, the CAM is generally based on 95%-100% occupancy, even if the building is only 50% occupied. For example, janitorial service in a 50% leased building could be charged out to tenants with Gross-Up clauses as if the service were being conducted in 100% of the building. This translates to the tenant being responsible for considerable CAM fees for controllable expenses such as janitorial service, air-conditioning, pest control, etc. Before you sign a lease, you need to know whether or not they have a "Gross-Up" provision and how much that will cost you. If not, this cost could be a huge expense to your company and major profit center for the landlord.

Annual Rental Increases:
A famous proverb is: the only constant is change. The cost for rent is a "change" that will almost always increase on an annual basis. Some landlords increase rent based on a fixed rate while others believe the increase should be tied to a financial index, the most commonly linked index is the Consumer Price Index (CPI)* The CPI measures the cost of food, clothing, recreation, residential rents, and other goods and services, but has no component relating to commercial rents. The components of an index like this may increase for more than the general inflation rate of the cost of running a building. The CPI-W is a national index and covers only urban wage earners and clerical workers whereas the CPI-V covers all urban wage earners and clerical workers whereas the CPI-V covers all urban consumers and is generally favored as an index for rent escalation because it covers about twice as many people and is less volatile. Naturally, however, if you want to insulate and protect your company from any fluctuations in the base rent (or gross rent, if you're lucky) then you must negotiate and fight for a fixed rate, preferably close to 3%. Most fixed escalation rates for traditional office buildings range from 3%-5% annually.
*Note: Some landlords index their rent escalation to keep their books private and prevent costly, time consuming reviews of expenses that may produce legitimate disagreements and credits to tenants.

Whether your company will be protected in the event of a fire, natural disaster, or other emergency event will depend on the provisions in the lease. If the lease is unfavorable to the tenant and does not outline and provide rights for abatement of rent or the ability to terminate if repairs have not been completed within a reasonable and established amount of time, this may not be the appropriate building for your company. It must be negotiated prior to signing the lease because if a disaster does indeed occur, the provisions of the lease will govern and "the mercy of the landlord" is what you will have to look to if the lease were not negotiated adequately in advance.

New Ownership:
If your prospective building is in negotiations for purchase by a new owner, it could change everything that you considered when entering into the lease. Some new owners will pour money into the property and completely rehab the building to your benefit. Of course, that will translate into higher rates once you are ready to renew (another reason to negotiate renewal options at the time of the initial lease). Other new owners may use the investment to "bleed" the property and the property will start to deteriorate. They take the monthly rent and use it towards other purchases and expenses while neglecting this property. The only way you can assure that your facility will continue to look presentable is to provide for the maintenance and certain aesthetic considerations in the lease.
The leasing process is complex and time consuming when done properly. Tenants can lease space from landlords from a position of strength, or conversely, a position of weakness. When engaged, professional Tenant Representatives leverage a comprehensive understanding of the market and the dynamics involved to establish the very best terms and conditions for the tenant-client. Outlined below is a framework of the leasing process and also important considerations from beginning to end.
The leasing process is complex and time consuming when done properly. Tenants can lease space from landlords from a position of strength, or conversely, a position of weakness. When engaged, professional Tenant Representatives leverage a comprehensive understanding of the market and the dynamics involved to establish the very best terms and conditions for the tenant-client. Outlined below is a framework of the leasing process and also important considerations from beginning to end.

The leasing
· Calculate and strategize space needs. Landlord has no interest in helping Tenants economize when they have vacant space to fill.

· Obtain market data and organize and evaluate the information so as to conserve the client's valuable time and resources. Decision makers should do just that - make decisions - while leasing experts get them all the information they need to make clear and informed decisions and allow them to concentrate on running their company.

· Document, analyze, and present all costs affecting the transaction so that senior management, based on financial comparisons, can approve the final facility decisions.

· Carefully track and know the details of prior lease transactions and have the invaluable resources for negotiations that are not available by simply asking landlords what they are willing to do.

· Know and use what specific landlords have done historically and will do in terms of rent abatement, improvements, and other concessions.

· Spot and neutralize potential pitfalls or "standard terms" in the 20-50 page "standard lease agreements" which are written by landlords to protect their interests. These "standard leases" are loaded with hidden business terms that are easy for tenants to overlook without expert professional Tenant Representatives. The lease document will govern in disputes. Favorable, or at least even-handed, lease provisions are the best medium for recourse. Lawyers don't provide complete protection. They are not trained to analyze business issues responsible for many hidden and excessive leasing costs. Lawyers are not experts in building operating systems. Oftentimes, they have never visited the negotiated premises and miss many problems because they didn't know that the lease did not address certain key factors that must be seen to be appreciated and avoided.

· Achieve lower total occupancy costs, more concessions, improved lease flexibility, and minimized hidden costs because of Tenant Representative's negotiating skills and familiarity with important building and market conditions. The landlord's business is leasing space and maximizing the value of their assets, specifically your building. This is accomplished by extracting the highest price per square foot and incorporating into the lease the most conservative business and legal provisions possible. A good real estate lawyer can help protect your legal interests, but often isn't equipped to advise on business points. A good Tenant Representative will improve your immediate and future business terms, which complement a good commercial real estate attorney's legal protections.

· Be familiar with competing buildings. Developers and landlords know that tenants with experienced Tenant Representatives can shift negotiations if they do not proceed smoothly. This alone can save tenants substantial amounts of time and money.

· Have extensive knowledge of product and the process. This in-depth market knowledge of specific buildings and prior deals puts the client on equal ground with professional full-time landlords and their contracted agents.

· Establish an exclusive relationship to secure a fiduciary obligation whereby a trusted and skilled professional is accountable to you for a results-oriented performance.

· Create credibility through professionalism with landlords to minimize complications in a transaction.

· Be entirely objective with no conflict of interest and never promote a specific product.

· Never convey any professional costs to client.

· Provide full, unrestricted access to the entire market regardless of the agencies representing individual buildings.

· Create a competitive bidding environment among candidate buildings (preferably between 2 or more).

· Create the groundwork for a pleasant, harmonious relationship between landlord and tenant. Tenant Representatives act as buffers throughout the negotiations so that tenants can preserve the goodwill needed later.

· Maintain confidentiality so that employees do not become alarmed in the event of an impending relocation.

· Refer a professional team of vendors to support the relocation process.

· Provide quality at all levels of the lease project and add quantifiable value to each transaction.

· Assure direction, momentum and communications to all participants.

· Provide information and guidance in rapidly changing markets.

· Apply a flexibility test - cancellation, contraction, relocation and sublet rights.

· Leverage the value of the tenant when in negotiations with the landlord - stress that tenancy will improve the value of the building.

· Identify property that is not an obvious choice to meet client's needs.

· Help clients avoid disasters by guarding them against signing something by accident.

· Settle disputes that arise even after the lease is signed.

· Remain involved in expansions, contractions, and renewals that occur so as to prevent uninformed

For more understanding please see: or

THE NEWS OF TODAY" we are up to 9 cranes" NOW!!!

A $35 million project for Bayport Container Terminal in the Houston Ship Channel has been given the green light.
The Port of Houston Authority approved a plan to purchase three dockside electric container cranes at an estimated total cost of about $34 million for use at Berth 3, which is currently under construction. Six cranes currently operate at the terminal.
At buildout, Bayport will be able to handle an annual container volume of about 2.3 million 20-foot-equivalent units.
The Port also awarded more than $1 million to Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc. for preparation of the Terminal Next Site Selection Study, which will evaluate the need for a future container terminal.
The PHA currently handles nearly 70 percent of the container market in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
For more information see:

Friday, August 22, 2008

Big deal on Kirby Dr. Coming Soon!

A New York company in the process of blocking up Coney Island property for redevelopment has acquired an entire block on Kirby, a street of redevelopment dreams in Houston.
An affiliate of Thor Equities LLC assumed full ownership of three adjacent tracts on Kirby from local retail broker Blake Tartt III, who spent a year assembling the properties before flipping the final tract to the New York firm last month.
The consolidated three-acre tract on the fringe of ritzy River Oaks fills a city block bounded by Kirby, Colquitt, Lake and West Main. Current retail occupants include Cafe Express and Dessert Gallery Bakery & Café, a Chase Bank, and the former Settegast-Kopf Co. funeral home.
The new owner has applied to the City of Houston Planning Commission to replat the three tracts into one. For more information see: or

Thursday, August 14, 2008


NASA Project Attracts Lockheed Martin to Nassau Bay
Defense Contractor Leases Nearly 60,000 SF at 2100 Space Park Drive

Lockheed Martin Corp. signed a lease for 59,797 square feet of office space at 2100 Space Park Drive in Houston, TX. The Bethesda, MD-based defense contractor decided to set up shop across from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Nassau Bay after it was awarded a contract to build the space agency’s Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle. Lockheed moved in this month. The company occupies two floors at the four-story, 115,878-square-foot Atrium @ Nassau Bay Building. It is 26 miles from downtown Houston in the Clear Lake submarket. Derrell Curry of Studley represented the tenant. Doug Little, Wade Bowlin and Erik Haugen of PMRG represented the landlord, Fund II & Fund III Associates, an entity of Wells Real Estate Funds II.

For more information see: or

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tenant Representation to get Bigger NOW

Staubach deal unleashes growth in tenant rep business
Dallas Business Journal - by Bill Hethcock Staff writer
kenneth brock
TENANT REP WINDFALL?: Jim Lob of commercial real estate brokerage UGL Equis says firms that represent tenants and not landlords stand to gain now that The Staubach Co. has been bought by Jones Lang LaSalle. UGL Equis plans to add at least five tenant-rep brokers to its 10-broker team in Dallas.View Larger
Commercial real estate firms that represent tenants solely are planning to add brokers and take other steps to capitalize on the acquisition of The Staubach Co. by Jones Lang LaSalle.
The Staubach Co., based in Addison, was founded on the premise that the company would represent only users of office, retail and industrial space, thereby avoiding potential conflicts of interest with landlords. But Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle, which bought Staubach in early July, offers the gamut of real estate services, including landlord representation.
That creates opportunities for firms that continue to represent only tenants’ interests, said Jim Lob, senior vice president of commercial real estate firm UGL Equis’ office in Dallas. The firm plans to add at least five tenant-rep brokers to its 10-broker team in Dallas, and 50 throughout the United States, Lob said.
“The Staubach-Jones Lang LaSalle merger is the trigger” for the additional brokers, Lob said.
UGL Equis, like others that represent only tenants, also will more aggressively target companies that chose to be represented by Staubach because of that company’s focus on tenant rep, Lob said.
“Those of us still doing it are going to put our hands in the air and say, ‘Hey, we still strongly believe in this (business) model,’ ” he said. “This gives us a chance to differentiate ourselves again.”
But Mark Fewin, senior managing director of CB Richard Ellis Inc.’s Dallas office, said JLL’s acquisition of The Staubach Co. shows the growing importance of a business platform that provides a broad range of services. CB Richard Ellis represents landlords and tenants.
“The (JLL/Staubach) merger provides final validation to the argument that we have been making for many years — that both tenants’ and landlords’ best interests can be served by one firm,” he said.
Mohr Partners, which exclusively represents tenants, is looking to hire more real estate professionals in the aftermath of the JLL/Staubach merger, said Bob Mohr, the company’s founder, chairman and CEO. The company, which has about 60 brokers in Dallas and about 200 nationwide, plans to add 12 to 15 more nationwide, Mohr said. The additions are spurred not only by the JLL/Staubach deal, but by the broader consolidation trend, he said.
The Staubach Co.’s exit leaves Mohr Partners as one of the largest, if not the largest, tenant-only corporate real estate services firms in the United States, Mohr said.
The Staubach Co. played a significant role in the development of the tenant representation side of corporate real estate, said Ken Bailey of Dallas-based Fischer, a commercial real estate firm that also represents only tenants.
“The reason this approach became such a vital service to corporate America is the undeniable conflict of interest in representing the landlord and the tenant,” Bailey said in an e-mail.

For more information see: and