Making Mapping Easy: MapRight Offers New Tools for CRE Pros

Who remembers the days of Key Maps? Or, more recently, printing out directions before you headed to a destination? Only in the past 15 years have we been able to rely on applications such as Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze.

“If you think mapping is boring or isn’t changing, you’re not paying attention,” says Steve Roberson, CEO & Founder of MapRight, an online and mobile mapping platform. “You used to have to use a paper map. The ability to see yourself on a real-time map has
only existed for maybe a decade.”

His company is taking that evolution even further, allowing clients to navigate and build maps whether they have GIS experience or not.

“One function on the MapRight mobile app allows a subscriber to send an interactive map to somebody. That somebody can get driving directions to a property and view it themselves without the agent even being there,” Roberson explains. “That person can evaluate the property’s boundary, floodplain and things like that. A feature like that had never really even been thought of except in the past decade.”

Roberson unlocked his passion for mapping decades ago as he completed his Master’s in applied geography with a concentration in GIS.

“I was always fascinated with real estate and how mapping interacted with it,” he says.

Real Estate Investors Lay Down in Family Homes

Wall Street businesses are more enthusiastic about buying family homes than ever before. They run the risk of killing their latest Golden Goose if they surge existing supplies rather than helping them build new homes.

Last week, Blackstone Real Estate Investment Trust purchased a portfolio of apartments from insurer American International Group for $ 5.1 billion. In June, the investment company spent $ 6 billion on the Home Partners of America, which owns more than 17,000 homes nationwide and offers lessors purchasing options. Bloomberg reported that private equity giant KKR has launched a new division to buy and rent homes.

Meanwhile, in Europe, real estate investors are increasing their share of the portfolio of investing in residential real estate, and German landlord Vonovia recently launched a € 18 billion acquisition of competitor Deutsche Wohnen. That’s $ 21.2 billion. Click to read more at www.texasnewstoday.com.

Stream Leases 1 Million Square Feet at West Houston Industrial Development

Stream Realty Partners (Stream), a national real estate services, development, and investment company, announced today that they reached 100 percent occupancy within Phase I of Empire West Business Park, which totals 1,036,057 square feet across three buildings. The feat was achieved within four months of completing construction. Stream will break ground on Phase II of the development in September with expected delivery in second quarter 2022.

Stream broke ground on Empire West, a 300-acre industrial development, in June 2020 and delivered three buildings in April of this year. Building one is 163,144 square feet and occupied by Warefor Solutions LLC, a new company that offers integrated solutions for product development, manufacturing, logistics, sales, marketing, warehousing, distribution, and fulfillment of high-quality home products. Building two is 122,138 square feet and was purchased by Winix America Inc., a manufacturer of healthy home appliances and air purifiers, and building three is 750,775 square feet and occupied by Ferguson Enterprises, the largest U.S. distributor of plumbing supplies, PVF, waterworks and fire and fabrication products.

Justin Robinson, Managing Director and Partner at Stream, said, “Empire West exemplifies Stream’s entrepreneurial platform. Our team has executed at the highest level across all facets, including land development, vertical development, leasing and property management. The market has spoken regarding the quality of Empire West’s thoughtful design, strategic location fronting I-10 and the business-friendly location in Brookshire. We cannot wait to quickly launch our second phase.”

Phase II of Empire West will consist of six buildings totaling 2,318,305 square feet. The design of Phase II mirrors the design of Phase I, but on a much larger scale, with buildings ranging from 124,000 square feet to over one million square feet. Upon completion, 45 acres of land will remain at the site for future development.

“Leasing demand for our first phase was off-the-charts and the outcome speaks for itself,” said Matteson Hamilton, Managing Director and Partner at Stream. “Based on market fundamentals and current user demand, we are going big with Phase II by offering the utmost flexibility to accommodate users of all sizes in the most modern buildings in the entire market. Additionally, Waller County and The City of Brookshire have been great partners, and we look forward to working on another successful phase with them at Empire West.”

Stream’s Robinson, Hamilton and Jeremy Lumbreras, Senior Vice President, represented Stream Realty Partners in the transactions and oversee leasing and marketing efforts at the development.

Empire West is located within the exploding West Houston industrial submarket, home to some of Houston’s largest and most sophisticated distribution users. Over the past few years, there has been migration to west Houston to support the distribution needs of not only greater Houston, but also the surrounding regional markets such as San Antonio, Austin, and The Valley.

Lumbreras said, “As tenants’ size requirements increase and consumers’ appetite for expedited delivery grows, larger distributors are planting flags in the Houston market where access to rooftops is critically important due to local consumptive-based demand. Empire West’s strategic location accommodates these local needs and provides distributors regional access to over 16 million people within a five-hour drive.”

The Empire West project is overseen by Stream’s Investment Management Platform which leverages expertise from Stream’s 13 local offices to make investment decisions based on real-time supply and demand fundamentals. Stream actively manages three discretionary commingled funds, in addition to several joint ventures, and wholly-owned assets totaling 33 investments of 14.7 million square feet and approximately $2B in assets under management.

Remote Work in Downtown High-rises Is Killing the Businesses in Houston’s Tunnels

For thirty years, Sandra Lord all but lived in Houston’s tunnels. By day, she led tours of the six-and-a-half-mile underground system, a labyrinthine mall that connects City Hall with Discovery Green and the largest downtown office buildings. She bought the first of her two parakeets, Bonnie and Clyde, in a defunct pet store under the old Woolworth building (now a parking garage), ate Vietnamese dumplings almost every day for lunch in the Houston Center on McKinney Street, and got her hair done at Red’s Barber Shop under Fannin. Now in her eighties and in a wheelchair, she entered the tunnel loop last month for the first time in five years. Uncharacteristically, she was speechless.

In the central connection of the entire tunnel system, at 919 Milam, the fluorescent lights were dimmed and almost all the retail spaces were gutted. “For Lease” signs dotted many doors; in other businesses, chairs were stacked on the tables as if we’d wandered in right before closing and not at noon, during what was once peak business hours. “I almost burst into tears,” Lord told me later. “This area used to be booming.”

The story of Houston’s tunnel construction is in many ways the story of Houston itself, driven by rapid expansion and a volatile boom-and-bust cycle. Entertainment magnate Will Horwitz first dug tunnels in 1935 to connect three of his movie theaters under what is now JPMorgan Chase Tower, in part to help patrons avoid the Houston heat. As much a showman as he was a businessman—live hogs occasionally roamed his theaters—Horwitz was inspired by New York’s Rockefeller Center and had the idea to populate the tunnels with businesses. Click to read more at www.texasmonthly.com.