VLK Recognized for Business Achievements and Corporate Culture in 2021

(Fort Worth, Texas) – VLK Architects continues to earn numerous acknowledgments for its success in the A/E/C industry and the greater business community. VLK’s honors achieved new heights of recognition for its performance, growth, and company culture during an incredibly challenging 2021.

Among the accolades for growth and performance, VLK was once again recognized for the strength of its company culture and as a great place to work. This year the firm was among the 2021 AIA Houston Emerging Professionals Friendly Firm Award, the Zweig Group’s Best Firms to Work For, and Fort Worth Inc.’s Best Companies to Work For. These awards would not have been possible without the support of our exceptional clients.

While the 2021 rebound brought a considerably more optimistic business climate and an economy in fast recovery, the lingering effects of the global pandemic continue to profoundly impact the A/E/C industry.

“The lessons we learned from the pandemic have made us an even stronger firm,” said Sloan Harris, CEO | Partner of VLK Architects. “Our clients usually don’t have the luxury of flexibility regarding the completion of their buildings. It’s our mission to develop feasible solutions to keep these projects on schedule and within budget despite the industry-wide challenges.”

The whiplash of supply and demand over the last 18 months has resulted in major disruptions in the supply chain for construction materials, resulting in shortages and severe price spikes of critical materials like steel and wood. The construction industry further suffered from a shortage of skilled workers and high unemployment rates, contributing to the struggle to meet scheduling requirements during construction. Finally, extreme weather events like the frigid arctic blast in February and Hurricane Ida in September caused even more interruptions to construction progress.

“Tapping an extensive network of engineering, materials, and construction partners, VLK established systems of new protocols to identify materials alternatives and time-saving approaches,” Managing Partner Todd Lien explained. “These issues became opportunities to demonstrate our agility and resilience as a solutions resource for our clients. It also underscored the value of bringing experts together to collaborate for the ultimate good of our industry.”

Lowe Joint Venture Acquires Three Hotels in The Woodlands from Howard Hughes Corporation

A joint venture between Lowe and an institutional investor announced today its acquisition from The Howard Hughes Corporation® (NYSE: HHC) of three hospitality assets located in The Woodlands®, a 28,500-acre award-winning master planned community in the greater Houston area. The Woodlands Resort; The Westin at The Woodlands; and Embassy Suites by Hilton, The Woodlands at Hughes Landing were purchased for $252 million and will continue to be managed by Lowe’s hospitality management subsidiary, CoralTree Hospitality, which took over management of the properties in September of 2020. Lowe will immediately begin a $25 million capital investment program at the three hotels, totaling 909 rooms.

“The Woodlands hotel portfolio acquisition is consistent with our broader hospitality investment strategy that targets quality, full-service hotels and resorts that draw significant leisure travel, but also cater to corporate and group business. Located in a high-growth Houston submarket with strong demand and compelling demographics, the hotels and resort draw from multiple demand segments attracted by the appealing location, lakes, outdoor recreation and considerable amenities within The Woodlands. Business has grown steadily over the past five years and the hotels have weathered the downturn and are rebounding strongly,” said Mike Lowe, co-CEO of Lowe.

With this sale, Howard Hughes has successfully closed on approximately $376 million of the targeted $600 million net proceeds in the sale of non-core assets outlined two years ago. “The sale of our hotel assets in The Woodlands further advances the disposition of non-core assets as outlined in our 2019 strategic initiative,” said David R. O’Reilly, CEO of The Howard Hughes Corporation. “Lowe is recognized for its leading quality service within the hospitality industry, and we are pleased to have found a buyer who shares our commitment to providing visitors to The Woodlands with a best-in-class customer experience.”

River City Bank Expands CRE Lending to Texas and Several Western States with Hire of Curtis Brunton

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sep. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — River City Bank announces the addition of Curtis Brunton as Senior Vice President, Business Development Officer. Brunton, who is based in Austin, TX, will be responsible for developing new business, with a focus on originating commercial real estate (CRE) loans throughout Texas and specific states in the western U.S. He brings more than 22 years of experience in loan origination and new business development, having most recently opened the San Francisco office for Morgan Stanley’s commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) group in 2017.

“Our team at River City Bank has experienced tremendous success in recent years,” said Dan Franklin, Director of Commercial Real Estate for River City Bank. “Now that we have begun to expand into new markets in Texas and other western states, we are excited to welcome a proven performer like Curtis to our team. We look forward to his business development efforts in growing markets such as Austin, which will serve as his home base.”

TWEET THIS: People on the Move: @RiverCityBank expands CRE lending in #Texas with the announcement of Curtis Brunton as SVP, Business Development Officer based in Austin. He will oversee new business development and CRE lending in Texas and other western U.S. states. #commercialbanking Click to read more at www.wfmz.com.

Make Room: Retail Real Estate Heats Up in Austin

Everything’s bigger in Austin, including demand for commercial real estate space.

Texas’s fourth-most populous city is a hotspot for many industries, and retail is no different: 22,000+ jobs were added to Austin from companies expanding or moving into the city in 2020, compared with 13,562 in 2019, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

The city overtook Los Angeles as the No. 1 commercial real estate market for potential deals, according to an investor survey from CBRE Group earlier this year.

“By the end of 2020, we were pretty busy, but we hadn’t returned to the same level of activity that we were at prior to the pandemic beginning,“ John Heffington, a retail service broker at CBRE’s Austin office, told Retail Brew. “What we saw in February or March of this year was just an explosion of activity and new retailers looking to enter the market along with current retailers who are looking to expand within our market.”

Deals that were put on hold because of the pandemic were pushed over the finish line once retailers were confident in reopening, Heffington said.
Retail Brew spoke with retailers in the Austin area to discuss the market’s strengths and how their stores have performed during the pandemic. Click to read more at www.morningbrew.com.

Valor Club USA Establishes Office in San Antonio

Valor Club USA has announced the opening of a San Antonio office. President and CEO, Michael S. McDowell, Ed.D, will oversee the development of the Valor Club, a comprehensive, one-of-a-kind, 200-acre, mixed-use community committed to building and sustaining a support structure for veterans and their families transitioning from military services into civilian life.

“For the past two years, Valor Club has worked hard to build productive and lasting relationships with the San Antonio leadership serving our transitioning service members, veterans, and their loved ones,” McDowell said. “San Antonio is a welcoming community with unmatched potential, incorporating a beautiful culture and proud spirit. As a resident, my first priority is to serve the community by delivering a comprehensive living and learning development and building an interoperable culture with a strong value proposition that is lasting and scalable.”

Live, Play & Thrive is the cornerstone of the Valor Club philosophy, which reflects the belief that by providing transitioning veterans and their families a safe, affordable, and dignified place to live, our heroes will thrive in their civilian lives. Veterans will be given the tools and resources they need to succeed including mental health services, employment centers, educational opportunities, and corporate partnership programs to allow veterans to work in specific industries.

“Mike’s presence in San Antonio will enhance our ability to effectively develop the Valor Club and provide desperately needed services for transitioning veterans,” said Irwin Jay Deutch, Managing Partner of Valor Club Partners. “The veteran community will benefit from social and recreation programs, in addition to having access to job opportunities that Mike will help identify by working with local and regional corporations.

The development will blend world-class recreational facilities, residential units for veterans, a hotel, commercial, retail, veteran support services, and unique entertainment district anchored by an indoor/outdoor performance and training center. With a mix of residential, retail, veterans’ services, and recreation, the neighborhoods will be phased over time as the community grows.

Walker & Dunlop, Ivanhoe Cambridge Form Equity Partnership

The joint venture has made its first two investments in Texas and Tennessee.

Walker & Dunlop Investment Partners and Ivanhoé Cambridge, which formed a joint venture to make preferred equity investments in multifamily, student housing and manufactured housing properties, have made their first two investments totaling nearly $10 million in Texas and Tennessee.

Executives at both firms said they would be focusing primarily on properties in the top 25 MSAs, particularly in the Southeast, South and Southwest. The first transaction was an approximately $4 million preferred equity investment into a joint venture with Pegasus Real Estate to acquire Collection at Overlook, now rebranded as Cornerstone at Overlook, in San Antonio, Texas.

The 240-unit multifamily property was constructed in the 1980s and is located near a medical center in the city’s northwest section. The second transaction was a $5.6 million preferred equity investment into a joint venture with Valor Residential to acquire Overlook at Farragut, a recently delivered 267-unit multifamily property in the Farragut submarket of Knoxville, Tenn. Click to read more at www.multihousingnews.com.