Houston’s job market continues to grow, and it’s doing it at a very rapid pace. The Energy Sector in Houston is a large contributor to the job market. The Medical Center and the Port of Houston also contribute to the Houston economy. Walter Page, director of office research at Property and Portfolio Research in Boston said, “Houston is clearly a growth leader.” Since August 2008, employment has increased 3.7 percent.
The construction of 15 major office buildings was completed in the first three quarters of 2012. Today, there is 3.9 million square feet of office space under construction. More than 90 percent of this is on the West side of Houston and in the Woodlands. The Woodlands is a community north of Houston.
Investors have a strong interest in the commercial real estate market, which has seen fast and furious sales. The Shell Plaza with its 1.8 million square feet of office space was sold for $550 million. In addition, Shell renewed its leases of 1.3 million square feet in Shell Plaza last year.
Developers are able to build almost anything, anywhere in the city because Houston doesn’t have zoning laws. Chief executive of Hines development, Mark Clover said, “When you really get down to it, the city is market zoned, because land prices are not based on zoning rights, they’re based on purely capitalistic, highest and best value. If you build the wrong product or build in the wrong place the market is going to severely punish you.”
Jim Knight of Bury & Partners, an engineering firm, said that Houston develops in hubs due to market forces. The Port of Houston and surrounding areas are home to refineries and distribution centers, while downtown and submarkets are home to other major companies. Generally, Houston businesses stay in the same place for long periods of time.
Exxon is currently building its new complex on 385 acres near the Woodlands. The company will bring 10,000 jobs there, only from relocating from its several million square feet of office space in Houston and downtown in 2014. Other businesses that are also moving to the campus include companies from Fairfax Virginia and Akron Ohio, and a refinery from Southwest Houston.
The Woodlands is becoming a substantial part of the Houston job market. The new office projects in the Woodlands include: a 23,000 square foot office space and a 31 story, 550,000 square foot office tower which Anadarko is building. And, across the street from the Anadarko building is another office project being constructed totaling 197,000 square feet.