Winter Storm Uri to Generate Billions in Insured Losses: Moody’s

The massive winter storm that barreled through the mid-section of the United States and across the South in mid-February, hitting Texas particularly hard, will generate billions in insured losses, according to commentary by Moody’s Investors Services. The storm, which has been dubbed Winter Storm Uri, brought “snow, ice and some of the coldest temperatures in decades, particularly in Texas and across the Southern U.S.” over the Valentine’s Day weekend, extending into President’s Day on Feb. 15 and throughout the following week. Millions were left without power, and in many cases water, from the storm which has also been attributed to dozens of deaths. “We expect insured losses for US P&C insurers to total in the billions of dollars, with claims from homeowners, commercial property, and auto lines of business,” Moody’s said in its report. The Insurance Council of Texas (ICT) has said the storm “may be the costliest winter weather event in the state’s history.” Hundreds of thousands of claims are expected as a result of the storm, according to ICT spokesperson Camille Garcia. The Independent Insurance Agents of Texas said in a statement on its website that it “is expected to be the largest insurance claim event in Texas history.” Click to read more at www.insurancejournal.com.

Professional and Personal: IREM Houston Offers Unique Networking and Educational Opportunities

Six years into her career in commercial real estate, Kaci Hancock walked into her first luncheon for the Houston chapter of Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). “I remember thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh. This is so overwhelming. I don’t belong here. I don’t fit here,” said Hancock. “Then Jo D. walked up to me.” Jo D. Miller, the chapter’s executive director, introduced Hancock to some of the others in the room, warmly welcoming the then-assistant property manager into the IREM family. “That was a key moment in my IREM life. If it hadn’t been for Jo D. taking the initiative or noticing that there was a new person in the room who was looking a little lost, I probably wouldn’t have come back,” Hancock said. “Because of that moment, I am now the 2020 president!” Click to read more at www.rednews.com.

Texas Economic Forecast for 2021

Moderator: Reid Wilson, Wilson Cribbs & Goren. Panelists: John Hammond,
Riverway Title; Patrick Duffy, Colliers International; Robert Cromwell, Moody Rambin; Josh Friedlander, NewQuest Properties; Stewart Geise, CBRE Austin; Corey Ferguson, Raintree Commercial; Scott Norton, Texamerica Center.

Takeaway
In spite of the COVID troubles of 2020, there are a lot of “green shoots” in
commercial real estate in Texas, and 2021 promises to be a year of renewal and opportunity, with new COVID-inspired efficiencies. Each quarter this year should be better. That said, there will also be a lot of rough spots between borrowers and lenders, landlords and tenants, evictions and rent deferrals/forgiveness, and so on. Overall, it may be ’23 or ’24 before full return to stabilization. Companies and employees from higher cost of living states are moving to Texas cities, which will create new needs here for transit and other forms of mobility and public services.

• Real estate opportunity funds are raising billions of dollars, and are looking for opportunities
• Even with the onset of COVID early in 2020, most pending real estate
transactions DID close as forecast
• Real estate lawyers are busy as landlords and tenants alike face debt stress, and create plans for new development
• Big question which will be answered as we move forward into the year: what kind of space do tenants really want for their employees, and for the continued dynamism of their companies? The trend is not yet clear to landlords or tenants; how will landlords react to tenants’ changing needs when the tenants themselves do not know what how their needs will develop?
• Employees may be “elevator-averse” well into the future, and this will impact high-rise office settings; trends are gently pointing away from CBD
and to less dense settings in the suburbs; there is a lot of vacant office space on the market; some tenants are even configuring to larger SF in their offices to increase distancing. Click to read more at www.rednews.com.

Texas Central—the ‘Other’ U.S. High-Speed Rail Project

When it comes to high-speed rail in the U.S., the California High-Speed Rail Authority gets a lot of attention in the press.

This is due in part to the fact that the CHSRA is a government-funded project, while the other big high-speed rail project in the U.S. – the Texas Central – is privately funded. We thought it would be worthwhile to cover some of the major milestones the Texas Central reached in 2020.

Major Milestones Reached in 2020

Legal:-May 7: The 13th Court of Appeals of Texas issued a unanimous ruling confirming Texas Central’s status as a Railroad under Texas Law

Regulatory:-May 21: US Army Corps of Engineers issued its preliminary designation affirming the FRA selected route as the Least Environmentally Damaging Proposed Alternative (LEDPA), agreeing with FRA on the chosen alignment- May 29: FRA released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)- July 17: Surface Transportation Board (STB) confirmed jurisdiction over the Texas Central project-September 11: FRA issued its Rule of Particular Applicability (RPA) and Record of Decision (ROD) establishing Federal safety standards under which Texas Central Railroad will operate the high-speed train and giving environmental clearance for the selected alignment from Dallas to Houston

Land:-Texas Central has control of over 600 parcels of land needed for the project-Texas Central has control of the three station sites in Dallas, Houston and the Brazos Valley

Jobs and Impact:-Texas Central is ready to build and will proceed to construction as soon as possible to contribute to the Nation’s COVID-19 recovery-This project will create more than 17,000 direct jobs during the six years of construction and over 20,000 supply chain jobs-This project will have over $10 billion dollars in immediate economic impact across the U.S. via contracts for steel mills and other manufacturers, minority and women owned businesses, veterans, rural businesses-The project will inject an estimated $36 billion in economic benefits over its first 25 years in the form of direct spending during construction, employee payroll and spending related to the maintenance and operation of the system. Click to read more at www.rland.com.