Port of Houston a Powerhouse

​HOUSTON (Colliers International) – June 6, 2017 – The Port of Houston has made Colliers International’s list of “industrial port powerhouses.

Collier’s report cited Houston as one of the only major U.S. ports where a majority of loaded cargo handled is from exports. Although loaded exports dropped by 3.4 percent last year, they still represented 51 percent of total loaded container volume.

“The port has been instrumental in the city of Houston’s development as a center of international trade,” the report said. “Carrier services on all major trade lanes link Houston to international markets around the globe, and the ship channel intersects the busy barge traffic lane of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Surrounded by one of the nation’s largest populations, Houston is also centrally located as a strategic gateway for cargo originating in or destined for the western and midwestern United States.”

port cited Houston as one of the only major U.S. ports where a majority of loaded cargo handled is from exports. Although loaded exports dropped by 3.4 percent last year, they still represented 51 percent of total loaded container volume.

“The port has been instrumental in the city of Houston’s development as a center of international trade,” the report said. “Carrier services on all major trade lanes link Houston to international markets around the globe, and the ship channel intersects the busy barge traffic lane of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Surrounded by one of the nation’s largest populations, Houston is also centrally located as a strategic gateway for cargo originating in or destined for the western and midwestern United States.”

Houston Still Top Destination For U-Haul Trucks-8 years In a Row

HOUSTON (U-Haul) – June 1st, 2017 – Houston remains the No. 1 U-Haul U.S. destination city for the eighth year in a row, according to the latest U-Haul migration trends report.

While Houston witnessed a 3.4 percent decline in 2016 arrivals compared with 2015, it continued to be the busiest domestic market for incoming U-Haul trucks.

Following Houston in the rankings were Chicago, San Antonio, Orlando, and Austin.

U-Haul destination cities are ranked according to the total number of arriving one-way U-Haul truck rentals to a city in the past calendar year. Destination cities do not account for departing traffic, so they don’​t necessarily reflect growth like U-Haul growth cities​. Destination cities reflect the volume and regularity of do-it-yourself movers coming into a community.

There are 32 U-Haul-owned stores and 140-plus independent neighborhood dealers within the Houston city limits.

Texas Historical Commission Aims To Revitalize Small Town Texas

Dallas/Ft Worth (Bisnow-Julia Bunch) – May 11, 2017 – Texas is benefiting from a major population boom and urbanization in its major metros. But that sometimes comes as a detriment to smaller towns. The Texas Historical Commission is trying to change that by making historic downtown properties all over Texas more easily accessible to investors, developers and business owners.

Through its Texas Main Street Program and Town Square Initiative, THC launched a web application on May 1 called DowntownTX.org that serves as a public inventory of buildings in need of tenants, new ownership or renovations. “The goal is to highlight properties we think are ripe for reinvestment,” THC director Brad Patterson said. “When we envisioned this, we knew those smaller markets were typically lost in the big sites. This highlights properties and makes them more visible for investors.”

DFW is adding 393 residents daily and Austin adds 159 per day. Harris County’s population growth has slowed, but still looks robust with the addition of 56,600 people in 2016.

Bexar County added 33,200 residents in 2016. But you will not find any of Texas’ biggest cities on DowntownTX.org. From suburbs like Georgetown and McKinney to towns far from metros like Paris and Alpine, the site showcases towns with a mix of populations. Nineteen cities are available for searching on the site, but Patterson said several other towns should be live in upcoming weeks.

Most cities were introduced to the database through the Texas Main Street Program, which has 89 participating cities. Eventually, THC hopes they all will be on DowntownTX.org.  “I think it’s the greatest thing to happen to the Texas Main Street Program since it was established,” Bastrop Main Street Program director Sarah O’Brien said. “There’s nothing like it anywhere else.

I think this is something that will be emulated in other states.” O’Brien hopes DowntownTX.org will connect Bastrop to investors and developers to grow the downtown’s retail offerings.

What Commercial Properties HISD Stands To Lose Because Of Texas School Finance

Houston (Houston Public Media-Laura Isensee) April 10, 2017 – The whole scenario has prompted business groups that stayed neutral in the November election to take a position, like the Greater Houston Partnership.

Houston could lose some of its most valuable properties, including a big mall and downtown office towers.

They’d be moved to North Harris County. Not the buildings, though. Just the taxes paid to school districts on those properties.

It’s part of a confusing result of what Houston voters decided last fall.

Houston Public Media obtained a list of the properties. At the top of the list is 5015 Westheimer Rd., also known as the Galleria.

The retail and dining complex – the largest mall in Texas and one of Houston’s tourist draws – is worth $1.5 billion on the tax rolls of the Houston Independent School District. That’s almost 20 percent of the total that would be taken away from HISD and assigned miles away to the Aldine Independent School District.

So how can the Galleria end up in Aldine?

It’s all because of Texas school finance.

The state now considers HISD property-wealthy, so it has to share money with poor districts. It’s called Robin Hood, or recapture.

Last November, HISD asked voters how they want to pay that bill: send a check or lose property.

“When the voters of Houston rejected us writing a check, at the time it was a $162 million check back to the state of Texas, when they rejected us doing that, we fall into something called detachment,” HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza explained recently on Houston Matters.

That detachment is when HISD pays with property. The Texas Education Commissioner recently revealed exactly which properties will leave HISD and go to Aldine in July. He updated the original list in late February and it could change again before the July deadline.

Besides the Galleria, there are downtown office towers, Greenway Plaza and buildings on Post Oak. Altogether they’re worth $8 billion. (The total value includes both real and personal property at the locations.)

We asked one business leader how property owners are reacting.

“One of almost bewilderment and sort of how would that work?” said Bob Eury, president of Central Houston, a downtown development nonprofit. He laughed because Texas school finance is so confusing.

Eury has tried to explain how it works to his members. He said that one concern is that once a property is gone, it’s always gone. So if the Galleria goes to Aldine, Texas law doesn’t have a way to add it back to HISD.

The other concern is about the bottom line.

“Of course the big question for them is, ‘Does the amount of tax we pay go up?’” Eury added.

The answer is right now the amount of tax would go up. Aldine has a higher total tax rate than HISD by almost 12 cents. That may not sound like much. But for a place like the Galleria, that hikes up the tax bill by over $1 million.

Eury said that extra cost will probably be passed on to tenants in these buildings.

The whole scenario has prompted business groups that stayed neutral in the November election to take a position, like the Greater Houston Partnership.

The Aldine Independent School District’s only comment is that they’re working with the state to follow school finance law.

Jay Aiyer, a professor at Texas Southern University, said that the change could help Aldine schools.

“If I were Aldine, I’d probably want detachment to some extent, because it means I can maybe fund new schools in terms of construction, have more facilities. They’re going to get effectively the same amount of money, but with a little more flexibility on what they can do with it,” Aiyer said.

But HISD could take a long term financial hit. If its tax base shrinks, remaining homeowners will have to pay more to make up the difference.

“When they lose that kind of property base, that can be really significant because you’re not going to create a new Galleria, for example,” Aiyer said.

Still, everything could stay the same, and the Galleria and its school property taxes could remain in HISD.

The Houston school board has set a new school finance election in May.

Voters could change their minds and decide to send a check to the state – just like every other wealthy district has done before.

Lone Star State Leads Nation in Total Energy Production & New Residents

AUSTIN (Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts) April 1, 2017– No Kidding…no Joke…The Lone Star State leads the nation in total energy production and new residents, according to an updated 50-State Scorecard unveiled today by the comptroller’s office.

Texas also ranks high in growth in employed workers and gross product according to the web tool, which uses data from a variety of sources to score each state in several key categories: population and demographics; business and workforce; economic indicators; tax and debt; and, new this year, quality of life and natural resources.

The comptroller’s office originally released the 50-State Scorecard in June 2015.

“Texans should be proud of our state’s rankings in this newly updated 50-State Scorecard,” Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said. “Our abundant natural resources and tremendous economic opportunity are some of the reasons why so many people move to Texas every day. But challenges remain, and this tool allows us to identify not only areas where we are doing well but also areas in which we can improve as a state.”​

Houston Growing At Pace of 1,000+ Persons Per WEEK!

Houston (HBJ – J. Scott Thomas) March 27, 2017 – Eleven major metropolitan areas, led by the Texas duo of Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth, are growing at a pace of more than 1,000 persons per week, based on population estimates issued this morning by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The federal agency released July 2016 estimates for 382 metros and 3,142 counties across the nation. Click through the slideshow to see the major metros (with populations greater than 500,000) that are growing or shrinking at the fastest weekly rates. Then scroll down to see a database that shows the 2010 and 2016 populations for all metros and counties.

American City Business Journals, HBJ’s parent company, used the new federal data to calculate weekly growth rates. Topping the list was the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area, which soared from an April 2010 population of 5.92 million to a July 2016 estimate of 6.77 million, translating to a net increase of 2,612.3 persons per week.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area was second with a weekly net gain of 2,474.6 persons. Rounding out the top five were the New York City, Atlanta and Miami-Fort Lauderdale metros, all with population increases larger than 1,500 persons per week.

The other metros above the weekly threshold of 1,000 were Washington, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle, San Francisco-Oakland and Austin.

The analysis also identified 11 major metros that suffered population declines during the six-year span. The worst weekly loss was posted by the Cleveland area, which slipped by 21,646 persons between April 2010 and July 2016, a net drop of 66.4 per week.

Three other major metros experienced weekly net losses of more than 25 persons: Youngstown, Ohio, and Pittsburgh and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The remaining decliners were Syracuse, New York; New Haven and Hartford, Connecticut; Toledo, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; Akron, Ohio; and Rochester, New York.

Weekly rates offer an interesting perspective on the latest trends in the nation’s metropolitan hubs, depicting the total ebb and flow of residents. A second (and slightly different) view is provided by percentages.

The sharpest gain in percentage terms occurred in Austin, which grew from 1.72 million residents in 2010 to 2.06 million last year, a jump of 19.8 percent. The runners-up among major metros were Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida (up 16.7 percent), and Raleigh (up 15.3 percent).

Youngstown registered the sharpest decline, falling by 3.7 percent in six years. It was followed by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (down 1.5 percent) and Cleveland (down 1.0 percent).

Houston-The Texas Caboose in Available Office Sub-Leases

Houston (HBJ-Cara Smith) March 6, 2017 –

Houston ranks No. 1 on a list – but it’s not something to exactly celebrate.

The Bayou City is leading major Texas markets in its volume of sublease space on the market, according to a report from Newmark Grubb Knight Frank. Houston ended 2016 with 11.5 million square feet of available sublease space. Dallas finished the year with 5 million square feet of sublease space, and Austin with a mere 1.6 million square feet, according to the report.

That’s despite the fact that Houston’s overall Class A and Class B office inventory is smaller than Dallas’ market. Excluding Class C office space, Houston’s total office market is 188 million square feet, while Dallas’ is 215 million square feet. Austin’s office market is 53 million square feet.

“For Austin and Dallas, you’re looking for signs of a market top,” said David Wegman, NGKF’s director of research. “In Houston, it’s a little different. You’re looking for signs of that bottom.”

That’s despite the fact that Houston’s overall Class A and Class B office inventory is smaller than Dallas’ market. Excluding Class C office space, Houston’s total office market is 188 million square feet, while Dallas’ is 215 million square feet. Austin’s office market is 53 million square feet.

Houston’s disproportionate sublease volume will continue to drag down Texas’ overall sublease numbers. There are 24 chunks of sublease space in the Houston market greater than 100,000 square feet, compared to four blocks in Dallas and one in Austin. However, Wegman clarified, certain blocks such as Shell Oil Co.’s sublease space in One Shell Tower are recorded as multiple chunks if the space isn’t contiguous. Shell Oil Co.’s space is technically listed as three chunks of sublease space.

Some degree of healing is on the horizon, though. Approximately 2.4 million square feet of sublease space will become available for direct lease in 2017 and 2018, per the report.

But until that happens, Wegman said, a positive point to glean is the attractiveness of Houston for potential tenants around the nation.

Wegman, NGKF’s director of research. “In Houston, it’s a little different. You’re looking for signs of that bottom.”

Houston’s disproportionate sublease volume will continue to drag down Texas’ overall sublease numbers. There are 24 chunks of sublease space in the Houston market greater than 100,000 square feet, compared to four blocks in Dallas and one in Austin. However, Wegman clarified, certain blocks such as Shell Oil Co.’s sublease space in One Shell Tower are recorded as multiple chunks if the space isn’t contiguous. Shell Oil Co.’s space is technically listed as three chunks of sublease space.

Some degree of healing is on the horizon, though. Approximately 2.4 million square feet of sublease space will become available for direct lease in 2017 and 2018, per the report.

But until that happens, Wegman said, a positive point to glean is the attractiveness of Houston for potential tenants around the nation.

TEXAS CENTRAL RAIL HEADED TO TRIAL IN LAND SURVEY CASE, DELAYS PROJECT

Houston (Bisnow Houston-Kyle Hagerty) December 23, 2016 – No one said building what could be the first private high-speed rail in the United States was going to be easy. District Judge Joseph “Tad” Halbach declined Texas Central’s request for a summary judgement in the company’s land survey case, and now the case is headed to trial.

Texas Central Partners released the following statement:  “We’re disappointed in the court’s decision to go to trial and we believe our arguments will prevail there. The judge’s two-sentence decision only declined the company’s request for summary judgment, meaning the debate will be heard before a full trial. Contrary to what opponents are saying, he did not issue any opinion on the company’s operations or its rights under state law.  “The decision does not set any kind of precedent, and we will show in a full trial that state law, established for more than a century, clearly gives railroad companies the right to conduct land surveys without interference. This is needed to determine the most advantageous high-speed train route. We will demonstrate that in the trial and look forward to our day in court, scheduled July 3.  “Meanwhile, we will continue to work with landowners in a direct and respectful manner as the project moves ahead as planned.” The summary judgement Texas Central had sought would have declared the firm a “railroad company” as defined in Section 81.002 of the Texas Transportation Code and an “interurban electric railway” as set forth in Section 131.011. It also sought the right to conduct the survey and prohibit the defendant from interfering. The trial is set for July. Until then, Texas Central will not be able to survey on the defendant’s property.

In the proceedings, the lawyers representing the defendant showed that Texas Central has filed 38 lawsuits against landowners. Twenty-three have been in Harris County. They also claim the company has not properly established itself as a railroad with the eminent domain authority it claims to have.  The problems have quietly pushed back the expected delivery date, which was also discussed in court proceedings. In a sworn statement at the hearing, Texas Central admitted to having less than 1% of funding needed for the project. Court proceedings also determined that Texas Central’s Environment Impact Survey has been consistently delayed. In October 2014, Texas Central issued a statement that the survey will be completed by mid-2015. On Nov. 1 of this year, Texas Central rep David Hagey said the EIS should be released in January 2017. The year passengers can be expected has also been moved from 2021 to 2022.

Barcelona, Berlin, Geneva, New York and Singapore, step aside.

Houston (Jack Witthaus HBJ) November 28, 2016 – Barcelona, Berlin, Geneva, New York and Singapore, step aside.

Houston bested these cities and others as one the top places to live in the world, according to a InterNations Expat Insider 2016 survey published in Business Insider. The study ranked the Bayou City as the second-best city.

The study surveyed 14,000 expatriates, or people who live outside of their native country. The surveyor, InterNations, is a website that connects expats around the globe.

Low living costs and ease of settling in boosted Houston in the rankings. It was the only U.S. city on the list outside of New York.

Melbourne, Australia, ranked highest for its work-life balance and availability of leisure activities.

Another list recently heralded Houston as one of the best places in the U.S. to start a business — the Bayou City ranked No. 6 around the country. Houston ranked as fourth-best city in the U.S. for young entrepreneurs, and Texas was rated No. 2 on CNBC’s “Top States for Businesses” list.

Texas Annual Job Growth Slightly Lower Than U.S.

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – September 27, 2016 – Texas gained 186,900 nonagricultural jobs from August 2015 to August 2016, according to the Real Estate Center’s latest Monthly Review of the Texas Economy. That’s an annual growth rate of 1.6 percent, lower than the nation’s growth rate of 1.7 percent.

The nongovernment sector added 146,300 jobs, an annual growth rate of 1.5 percent compared with 1.9 percent for the nation’s private sector.

Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in August was 4.7, up from 4.4 percent in August last year. The nation’s rate decreased from 5.1 to 4.9 percent.

All Texas industries except mining and logging, manufacturing, and the transportation, warehousing, and utilities industry had more jobs. Leisure and hospitality ranked first in job creation followed by financial activities, education and health services, the government sector, trade, and professional and business services.

All Texas metro areas except Odessa, Midland, Texarkana, and Wichita Falls had more jobs this August than last. College Station-Bryan ranked first in job creation followed by Dallas-Plano-Irving, Laredo, Austin-Round Rock, and Brownsville-Harlingen.

The state’s actual unemployment rate was 5 percent. Amarillo had the lowest unemployment rate, followed by Austin-Round Rock, Lubbock, Dallas-Plano-Irving, Sherman-Denison, College Station-Bryan, and San Antonio-New Braunfels.