Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Wednesday that he has sued the City of Austin and Travis County, a declaration that came a day after local leaders declared new restrictions for when restaurants and bars can serve customers during New Year’s weekend. Paxton filed a petition for temporary injunction and a temporary restraining order in Travis County District Court targeting orders made by Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Andy Brown. Citing an increase in COVID-19 cases, they announced that dine-in food and beverage service must be restricted indoors and outdoors from 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m., starting Thursday and ending at 6 a.m. Sunday. The measure did allow drive-thru, curbside pick-up, take out, or delivery services. “Mayor Adler and Judge Brown do not have the authority to flout Gov. [Greg] Abbott’s executive orders by shutting down businesses in Travis County and our state’s capital city,” said Paxton in a statement. “The fact that these two local leaders released their orders at night and on the eve of a major holiday shows how much contempt they have for Texans and local businesses.” Click to read more at www.texastribune.org.
This past year, industries across Houston and beyond have been significantly impacted. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the election, the uncertainty of the future created hesitation for many to move forward with business, while others found new opportunities for growth and expansion. While all sectors of the commercial real estate industry were affected, today we explore the state of the industrial sector as we head towards the end of the year. Houston, We Need More Space. One of the biggest shifts we have seen during COVID-19 has been the need for larger warehouse spaces in order to meet the immediate needs of the consumer. Since many customers and businesses switched to e-commerce during the pandemic, the demand for space has increased. As a result, one of the trends we are seeing is an increase in space capacity caused by the demand from national retailers and e-commerce giants like Amazon. Developers and landlords are now having to deliver additional features and amenities such as added trailer parking space, suitable loading docks and extra storage space to accommodate these tenant demands. It is a trend that the industry has been talking about for the last three years and it’s something we can expect to continue to see for the foreseeable future. Click to read more at www.lee-associates.com.
As we approach the new year, it’s a good time to reflect on the importance of gratitude and giving. These last 10 months have changed how we live, work and play, but one key lesson we have learned from COVID-19 is that we can still stick together while staying apart. No doubt, the pandemic profoundly and directly impacts commercial real estate through quarantines, shutdowns, social distancing, supply chain disruptions, and loss of consumer confidence. CRE and the overall economy will rebound. The speed with which the country and the industry emerge from the crisis depends on the availability and adoption of vaccines, patience with masks and social distancing, monetary stimulus, and stabilizing the property types, markets, and projects. “To whom much is given, much will be required.” If you have heard that sage quote, you know it means we are held responsible for what we have. If we have been blessed with knowledge, talent, time, and resources, it is expected that we use these gifts to benefit others. Although social distancing keeps us physically apart, it does not mean we are alone. There are countless opportunities to support others. Yes, celebrations, dinners with friends, and sporting events have mostly been canceled. However, compassion, kindness, and faith in humankind have not been postponed. Here are some strategies we can take that reinforce this: SHOW APPRECIATION.
Sometimes the most effective things are the easiest. When did you last say thank you to someone in your organization for a job well done? Perhaps you do this regularly, in which case you should encourage others to do it as well. Taking the time to show gratitude makes others feel valued. It is also contagious behavior, and the more everyone does it, the more it becomes part of your culture. A study by Glassdoor found that 80 percent of employees are willing to work harder for an appreciative leader, and 70 percent said they would feel better about themselves and their efforts if their managers recognized them more often.
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The very first COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the United States, though experts estimate it will take months before vaccination becomes an option for the general public. Still, it is a sign that we are steadily moving toward post-pandemic life. When it comes to certain parts of commercial real estate, that may not look exactly like it did even a year ago. Offices emptied at the beginning of the pandemic as companies sent millions of employees home to help prevent the spread of the virus. As we’ve learned more about it and how to protect workers, more are returning to the office. But according to a Qualtrics study, two out of three Americans still feel uncomfortable about returning to their workplace. The CDC outlines its recommendations for bringing workers back, which involves developing a COVID-19 workplace health and safety plan by evaluating whether the building is ready for occupancy, pinpointing weaknesses in the workplace and developing hazard controls. That, in large part, charges property owners and managers with providing peace of mind for their tenants by focusing on outbreak prevention and worker safety in the months ahead. Technology will play an important role in that, enabling employees to feel safer when they return to the office. According to research from CB Insights, “To stay ahead of the curve, companies will need to consider key investments across wellness, remote collaboration tools, mobile cybersecurity tech, accessible HR tools and workforce training programs for professional development and upskilling.” Various new technology offerings have cropped up in the past few months to address the concerns of companies focused on bringing employees back into the office. One example of technology that could aid in the future of office management got its start back in 2017 but is perfectly poised for this moment. “Nimway was initially developed as an internal tool to help Sony’s own employees find their way around the huge campus in Lund, Sweden. With 13 different buildings, people were having a hard time locating meeting rooms, finding available workspaces and even colleagues,” said Lars-Gunnar Lundgren, the head of Nimway. “We soon realized we weren’t the only ones—lots of other companies had similar problems—so we decided to turn Nimway into a commercial solution.” Nimway technology was designed and is being continuously developed with end users in mind, said Lundgren, by supporting employees in their everyday lives and also by providing facility managers with useful occupancy data. An example: an employee can use Nimway to find and book meeting rooms, which will help companies manage capacity restrictions. Plus, the software’s wayfinding feature guides employees to the chosen meeting room. Nimway also developed new features to help minimize health risks for those who return to the building. Using the technology, employees can book a desk in the office up to 14 days in advance. And when they’ve finished working, Nimway’s desk sensors mark the space as “unavailable” until after it has been cleaned. “Obviously Nimway can’t guarantee people’s safety, but what it does is help companies implement the COVID safety policies they’ve decided to apply,” Lundgren said. For that reason, he added, Nimway isn’t encouraging companies to rush into reopening their offices. “Rather, we want to support them with useful tools when their process begins,” said Lundgren. “There are different restrictions in different countries, but one thing we’ve observed everywhere is that it takes time and careful planning to get this right. Our customers are aware of this and that’s why they’re working to get the technology they need in place ahead of time.” Even beyond the pandemic, Nimway allowed users to analyze space utilization and, as a result, improve office layouts. “This reduces the need for additional buildings which, in turn, reduces short-term raw material use as well as long-term energy consumption,” Lundgren said. “You could say that ‘green’ thinking is built into the Nimway solution.” Companies can also continue using the program as it was originally intended—as a vehicle to eliminate the stress of everyday tasks such as finding a meeting room or colleague. “Nimway allows employees to spend more time and energy on creative and productive tasks. This is fantastic for both staff and business owners since people can put their energy where it really counts,” said Lundgren. “It’s good for company culture … and for the bottom line.” No matter which tools a company chooses to boost employee safety, privacy and morale in the coming months, the office will continue to be a place where workers can connect and innovate—two aspects of work that have been sorely lacking during the pandemic.
Transwestern Real Estate Services principal, Duane Henley, provides leasing services for the property at 1601 and 1603 Lyndon B Johnson Fwy., on behalf of the building ownership, Browning Place LLC. Paul Whitman and Pat McDowell with JLL represented Southwestern Health Resources. “As one of the leading healthcare groups in the Unites States, Southwestern Health Resources can add a collaborative space to its existing real estate portfolio for its employees to communicate and interact,” said Henley. “The property’s location in the Famers Branch area provides easy access to great amenities that tenants can enjoy.” Located in the epicenter of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Browning Place consists of four office buildings totaling 627,560 square feet. Within minutes of DFW International Airport, the buildings offer tenants an on-site bank, jogging trail, café, high-end fitness center and upscale Texas granite-clad lobbies. Combining the strengths of UT Southwestern Medical Center, Texas Health Resources and more than 5,000 faculty, affiliated and independent community physicians, Southwestern Health Resources offers the largest provider network in North Texas. Southwestern Health Resources selected the facility because of its central location for its approximately 900 employees and the space flexibility to meet the needs of the organization’s diverse workforce. Services range from care management, utilization and risk management, medical and data analytics, physician network operations, health plan services and support departments such as IT, human resources, marketing and finance. According to Transwestern’s Third Quarter Office Market Report, Dallas-Fort Worth is a leading metro in various rankings of office occupancy and return to workplaces, and after accelerating sharply in the first half of third quarter, new sublease listings slowed considerably in the latter half.
NAI Partners arranged the sale of five buildings totaling 260,950 square feet at 8800 Technology Forest Drive, located in The Woodlands, Texas. The main building on the former Lexicon Pharmaceuticals campus is a 128,400-square-foot, Class A office property with laboratory space. Additional properties on the site include a one-story flex property with lab and office space, as well as two special-use facilities. This is the single-largest commercial real estate sales transaction in the Life Sciences sector in the Greater Houston area in 2020. NAI Partners’ Dan Boyles and Jon Silberman represented the seller, Lexicon Pharmaceuticals. Lexicon will be relocating its corporate headquarters to a new location in The Woodlands. “We’ve been seeing life sciences real estate activity ramping up in and around the Greater Houston area in a big way,” said Boyles. “When we initially listed the property, we thought it might have more broad appeal as a redevelopment opportunity, but there was plenty of interest from potential laboratory, office and biological manufacturing users, further underscoring Houston’s growing appeal as a life sciences hub.” Lexicon Pharmaceuticals is a biopharmaceutical company that is applying a unique approach to gene science based on Nobel Prize-winning technology to discover and develop precise medicines for people with serious, chronic conditions. Using a patient driven approach, the company is working to discover and develop innovative medicines to safely and effectively treat disease and improve patient lives.