Real Estate Center Online News

May 15, 2012

Index Identifies Texas Counties Attractive to Investors

PITTSBURGH ( – The 2012 Fourth Economy Index Listing for small and mid-sized counties has been released. Three Texas counties are identified as having a strong capacity to attract and retain sustainable investment.

Among mid-sized counties nationwide, Brazos County ranked seventh with a Fourth Economy Community (FEC) index score of 1.9 and an "innovation capacity" of A+. Lubbock County ranked ninth with a 1.8 index score and B- in innovation capacity.

Randall County was the only Texas county to land in the top ten among small-sized counties. It ranked tenth with a 1.29 index score and an A in innovation capacity.

Results for large-sized and micro-sized counties will be released later this year, according to

According to Fourth Economy's website, "key data are collected to include wage and employment growth, education levels, drive times, home values, minority business ownership, agricultural capacity and population density. The measures are weighted based on the level of influence they have on both internal and external investment decisions.
"The analysis also considers the capacity for a community to support innovation. The FEC Index expresses an innovation capacity score as a letter grade, determined by the online source Stats-America. This grade considers factors such as human capital, state policy context and productivity."

Alterra Checking Into Vacant Office Tower

DALLAS (Dallas Business Journal) – Despite rumors of demolition, a long-empty Dallas office tower could be reincarnated as a hotel if Alterra International gets its way.

The 18-story office tower at 211 N. Ervay St. has been vacant since 1995, but Turkish developer Mike Sarimsakci and his investors are purchasing the building, hoping to transform the existing space into a 250-room hotel.

The sale is expected to close in 60 to 90 days.

H-E-B's Metroplex Land Grab

FORT WORTH (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) – After expressing interest in expanding in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, H.E. Butt Grocery Co. has recently purchased two separate parcels in the area.

The San Antonio-based grocer’s most recent purchase was a 16-acre site near Bailey Boswell Rd. in north Fort Worth. They also recently purchased 18.2 acres at Lake Ridge Pkwy. and Camp Wisdom Rd. in Grand Prairie.

H-E-B has yet to release its plans for either site.

The grocery chain operates seven H-E-B locations in the metro area, as well as five Central Market stores.

San Antonio Offices Filling Slowly

SAN ANTONIO (NAI REOC San Antonio) – Demand for office space is rising in San Antonio, although new build-to-suit office construction is expected to leave some vacancies in older buildings.

According to the latest market report from NAI REOC San Antonio, first quarter 2012 gains in the local office market are the largest since mid-2010.

Here are some first-quarter highlights:

  • CPS Energy has purchased the 95,000-sf building at 100 Sentry Gateway.
  • CH Guenther now anchors the newly-built 107,644-sf Bakery on Broadway, although the move left a 54,000-sf vacancy downtown.
  • The 166,000-sf KCI Tower was purchased by Callaghan Tower Ltd.
  • MJR Investments purchased the 223,000-sf Legacy Oaks.
  • Two recently-vacated buildings totaling 117,700 sf at the transitioning Brooks Air Force Base are for sale.

While office occupancy is slowly gaining steam in San Antonio, rents have declined by about 24 cents over the last quarter to $20.75 per sf.

Rents are lowest in the south submarket, where vacancies are highest at 35.1 percent. Far north central San Antonio rents are highest, and the vacancy rate is at 9.2 percent. Office space is tightest in the far west submarket, where the vacancy rate is 6.4 percent.

TxDOT Easing Houston SH 290 Congestion

HOUSTON ( – To help relieve traffic congestion on SH 290 in northwest Houston, the Texas Department of Transportation is acquiring more than 73 acres to widen the West Loop North stretch of I-610.

“This unprecedented expansion of the West Loop is the most significant modification to Interstate 610 in years,” Deal Sikes & Associates' Mark Sikes told RealtyNewsReport. “The acquisition of this much West Loop frontage is an extremely rare and noteworthy property purchase that will lead to the expansion of U.S. Highway 290 and a noticeable change in Houston traffic patterns.”

Deal Sikes & Associates is providing valuation counseling for many of the landowners affected by the West Loop North widening. Thirty parcels, located mostly on the west side of I-610 between the Katy Freeway and SH 290, are being acquired by the state.

4,000 Dallas Apartments in Portfolio Pickup

DALLAS (Dallas Morning News) – New York-based Gaia Real Estate and an affiliate of Starwood Capital Group of Connecticut have paid $22.5 million for apartment portfolio that includes more than 4,000 Dallas-area units.

The portfolio consists of more than 30 apartment complexes totaling about 9,500 units. While the Dallas area has the most, units are also in Houston and Corpus Christi, as well as in Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Average occupancy is 90 percent.

Gaia and Starwood purchased the portfolio out of bankruptcy. The previous owner was PJ Finance Co.

Pinnacle Co. will manage the properties.

Encore Game for Patriot

DALLAS (Dallas Morning News) – Encore Enterprises is under contract to purchase the 30-story Patriot Tower in downtown Dallas.

The locally based development group plans to convert the upper two-thirds into housing and keep the lower third as office space. The 33-year-old building is at 350 N. St. Paul St.

Architect HKS Inc. is considering moving its headquarters into the building, which has a parking garage across the street, connected by a pedestrian bridge.

Bank of America foreclosed on the building in September after the owner defaulted on more than $28 million in debts.

El Paso Big House Looking to Get Bigger

EL PASO (El Paso Times) – A growing city doesn’t only need new homes, shops and office space. It needs more room for its lengthening list of inmates.

The El Paso County Jail Annex is planning a $44 million expansion of its facility at 12501 E. Montana Ave. to add 430 inmates to its current capacity of 1,450.

County commissioners will vote June 11 to approve the multimillion dollar certificate of obligation to allow the construction. If approved, work is expected to begin by the end of the year and be complete within two years.

News, News and More News

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – If you'd like more news, we've got you covered. More to the point, we've got Texas covered.

Visit NewsTalk Texas, our online news database, to find real estate articles from across the state. This week's stories include:

NewsTalk Texas is updated each weekday, throughout the day.

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