A guide to executive suites and office space to rent in Houston as well as general information that may be useful if you are considering renting offices in the city.
The Buffalo Bayou
The city of Houston is the fourth largest in the United States and it is recognised as the country’s capital of both the oil and aeronautics industries. It was founded on land surrounding the Buffalo Bayou and close to America’s southern coast along the Gulf of Mexico. Much of the city’s early history is tied-up with the issues surrounding Texan independence and the various revolutionary battles that took place in the area during the 1830s.
Houston’s founders, Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen, were essentially real estate speculators who acquired an area of land they thought was the right sort of place for a new city in the south. They named their new city after the General Sam Houston who had led the revolutionary troops in the decisive battle that briefly made Texas an independent country.
Railroads and hurricanes
In the mid-1800s, Houston was still little more than a fledgling settlement trying to establish itself as an economic and commercial centre of any real note. To this end, a port was created in the Buffalo Bayou during the 1840s and real progress was already being made but it was only really with the introduction of railroads that the city’s prospects began to improve. Despite becoming embroiled in the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865, Houston was able to develop its port and its transport links to such an extent that it became an important site for the nationwide cotton industry.
Efforts to expand the scale of commercial activity that could be conducted via Houston’s bayou port were maintained throughout the latter part of the 19th century and were helped to some extent by the effects of a hurricane, which caused huge damage to the nearby port city of Galveston. Major waterway developments were then instigated to turn the city into one of the leading ports in the southern United States and eventually the world.
Oil, war and immigration
At the beginning of the last century, the population of Houston was still numbered in the tens of thousands but this was soon to change as the city’s economy was significantly boosted, first by the discovery of oil reserves and secondly by the onset of war. From 1901 onward, oil exploitation and export was to be a central part of the local economy and the future source of the city’s wealth.
Houston was also able to derive considerable economic benefits from America’s commitment to join the Second World War. A now thriving port was required to cease normal activities but a string of petrochemical factories and manufacturing bases were set up in the area and business was soon booming for local ship-builders.
The success of the Houstonian economy over the past century or so has attracted a steady stream of immigration, primarily from countries to the south like Mexico and other Central American states but also from the Far East and the Indian subcontinent. As a result, Houston’s cultural heritage is enormously diverse and dozens of different languages are still spoken across the city.
Houston is now regarded as an important centre for the American and the global economy, thanks largely to its status as a leading player in the world’s energy industry. The energy firm ConocoPhilips has its international headquarters in Houston and other giants of the sector like ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, BP and Chevron have a considerable presence in office space across the city. Major operators in related fields like Halliburton, Schlumberger and Citgo are all based in Houston and the city is now developing a strong reputation as a hub for alternative energy companies.
Only New York among American cities can claim to have more Fortune 500 companies head-quartered in its district than Houston and there are a wealth of engineering, healthcare, manufacturing and technology businesses operating out of the city. Many of these firms are based in skyscraping tower blocks in downtown Houston, which sits inside the Interstate 610 Loop road system and is home to one of the tallest central business districts in America.
A lack of zoning laws means that there are plenty of worthwhile commercial centers outside the main central business district and there are numerous Houston office space options worthy of consideration. Indeed, the suburban areas of the city reportedly out-performed the CBD in terms of achieving net absorption of its available office space over the course of 2010. Taking the city as a whole, 84 per cent of Houston’s office space was occupied at the end of last year but the cost of renting class A office space fell slightly in the CBD.
According to the real estate consultancy Colliers International, there is likely to be an increase in the levels of vacancy among offices in the center of Houston. Despite a tentative recovery of the economy and employment rates following the downturn post-2008, an influx of newly available offices will dampen demand and force rents lower during 2013.
The car is by far and away the most commonly used mode of transport among people living in and around Houston. Most adults drive themselves to work each day along the various highways and loop systems that have been established over the past several decades. Beyond the freeways, there are a number of other transport options, including the MetroRail system, which was launched in 2004 and runs elegantly from the University of Houston to the downtown area.
Having been founded with the help of the railways, Houston is home to some of the more historic railway lines in America, including the Sunset Limited line, which takes thousands of passengers a month from New Orleans to California, via Texas. The main airport for Houston is the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, one of the busiest in the world, with flights heading to and from almost 200 destinations worldwide.
Ice hockey never made it so far south as Houston but every other major American sports league has a representative hailing from the city. The Houston Rockets, Astros and Texans battle it out with America’s best on a weekly basis in the fields of basketball, baseball and American football, attracting vast crowds in the process.
The city has something of a pioneering reputation after bringing us the world’s first fully domed sports centre in the shape of the now rarely used Astrodome. The last great sporting event to take place there was WrestleMania X-Seven, which had 66,000 sports entertainment fans on their feet.