Houston office leasing market is showing signs of life

Houston office leasing market is showing signs of life

Office leasing activity, which came to a halt as business leaders throughout the Houston area dealt with pressing workplace issues such as transitioning to a work-from-home environment, is inching back.

While the market is expected to further decline amid COVID-19 and the collapse in oil prices, companies facing lease expirations or that need to move for other reasons are engaging brokers.

Scott Martin, executive managing director of Granite Properties, a Plano-based landlord, said the company has closed 11 lease deals in its buildings since mid-March.

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Before many companies sent their workers home in mid-March, Granite had been negotiating with a law firm for space Weslayan Tower, a 20-story building on the northeast corner of Weslayan and U.S. 59. The firm Weycer, Kaplan, Pulaski & Zuber, recently finalized a lease for 16,768 square feet on the building’s top floor.

“Some customers have to make decisions, so that’s why you seen some of the deals continue to move forward,” Martin said.

As new deals slowly trickle back, some companies see remote working as a way to decrease the amount of office space they occupy. Others are reducing density to give employees more room to social distance.

Goree Architects recently inked a lease to occupy 14,200 square feet at 5151 San Felipe in the Galleria area, a space that will be 44 percent larger than what the firm previously occupied. The company is expanding to accommodate new business lines, but said it will also incorporate more space per person.

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Martin said his firm, which also has buildings in Atlanta, Denver, Southern California and Dallas, has been seeing companies allocate about 240 square feet per person, compared with around 180 square foot previously.

“Working from home is becoming part of our future, but we’ve had several tenants now in the process of expanding in order to give their employees more space and spread them out,” he said.



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