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

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.

Moving Dallas Forward Requires Bold Land Use in Transportation and Climate Policy

Spend enough time with Dallas urbanists during happy hour, and eventually, the conversation will drift toward discussing why our transit system does not work like a coastal city or how we can decarbonize our grid to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to meet Dallas’ Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) goals, or how we make a dent in our rapidly rising housing costs, and the conversation inevitably arrives, in some form or fashion, at the same place:

Are these goals even possible with the current land use? Is our city dense enough? Will the suburbs reach Oklahoma at this rate?

The last one is spoken in jest, but only slightly so.

And for a good reason. We have ambitious goals like the CECAP calling for a reduction in our share of single-occupancy vehicle travel from 88 percent to almost 60 percent and 35 percent of new housing located within a transit-oriented development (TOD) community by 2050.

DART’s investment in its bus system, the Automated Bus Consortium, and D2 provide a major boost to our mobility ambitions, and the city’s strategic mobility plan includes excellent strategies like a citywide mobility hub network tied to an increased bicycle and pedestrian network. Click to read more at

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

REDnews 2021 Houston Commercial Real Estate Forecast Summit

Office Market Update Moderator: Gil Staley-The Woodlands Area Economic
Development Speakers: Robert Cromwell-Moody Rambin; Stephanie Burritt-Gensler; Ryan Barbles-Stream Realty Partners

Takeaway: The pandemic layered more pain on the office market in Houston, following as it did the slump in oil prices and the resulting employee layoffs. The flight to the suburbs from the CBD and indecision regarding co-working space has further muddled the picture and has added to landlord anxiety.

• Houston leads the country in office vacancy rate; hopefully, this year will see a bottoming out and a slow return to absorption
• There is a flight to newness, as most Houston office product was built in the ‘80s to serve that boom in oil
• The CBD and Energy Corridor have suffered the highest vacancy rates, with Uptown Houston also feeling pressure; employees working from home are enjoying freedom from long commutes; elevator and park and drive anxiety has driven the work from home phenomenon mini-boutique spaces in the suburbs as well
• There is a new term spawned by remote working: FOMO, or “fear of missing out” on what is happening within the company; collaboration is a big part of forming resilient company cultures and it is much weaker when working via Zoom
• Landlords are considering increasing ventilation even as Covid fades, but there is only so much humid air one can bring in from the outside in Houston
Click to

Cities with a Higher Number of Remote-Friendly Jobs? Their Office Markets Aren’t Recovering as Quickly

As COVID-19 cases continue to fall in cities across the United States, the office sector is beginning a slow recovery. But not all recoveries are equal, with office markets with a greater percentage of remote-friendly jobs bouncing back more slowly, according to the VTS Office Demand Index.

And the opposite? Cities in which there is a smaller percentage of remote-friendly jobs are seeing their office markets rebound at a quicker pace.

The VTS Office Demand Index, or VODI, tracks tenant tours, both in-person and virtual, of office properties across the country. It is recognized as one of the earliest indicators of upcoming office leases.

VTS is a leasing, marketing and asset management platform for commercial real estate.

In Seattle, Boston and San Francisco, the share of jobs that are remote-friendly ranks among the highest in the country. It’s not surprising, then, that this latest VODI finds that the office markets in those cities have recovered the least, with their level of office-lease demand down 39, 43 and 46 percent from their 2018-2019 average, respectively.

Markets with a substantially lower share of remote-friendly jobs, Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles, are only down 14, 15 and 24 percent from their pre-pandemic levels, respectively.

“The pandemic didn’t just change the way we work, it changed the way we live. Many workers have found value in remote or hybrid work and may be reluctant to go back to the way life was pre-pandemic,” said VTS chief executive officer Nick Romito. “In cities with higher rates of fully remote jobs, hiring and retaining talent means employers will need to provide choices and flexibility, including fully remote and fully in-office.”

VTS found that after a strong burst in early 2021, demand for office space across the country slowed slightly in May. After rising 173 percent in the first four months of the year, demand for office space fell 8.5 percent in May from April. But demand in May is still five times higher than the pandemic low in May of 2020.

The May decline, likely fueled by a seasonal lull and an easing of pent-up demand, marks a reversion to office demand’s normal see-sawing behavior, VTS said.

“Demand for office space tends to follow seasonal patterns; it should not be concerning that most markets saw demand for office space taper in May,” said VTS chief strategy office Ryan Masiello. “Depending on the market, we anticipate that demand will continue to fluctuate this summer before rising again in August and September.”

In more good news for the office sector, as of May more than half of the markets covered were within 25 percent of their pre-pandemic benchmark level, a level that more closely resembles pre-COVID-19 normalcy. All markets, with the exception of Chicago and Los Angeles, saw demand for office space recede in May with Seattle losing the most ground, down 24 percent during the month.

The Chicago office market is especially promising now. VTS says that as of May, Chicago had a VODI of 86, which makes it the closest of all big-city markets to its pre-pandemic level of demand. Chicago is also the only major market to see an increase in demand for office space in May.