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Message - Re: Bank of the Southwest Tower @ Houston (unbuilt)

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Posted by  Reid on March 16, 2004 at 10:35:32:

In Reply to:  Bank of the Southwest Tower @ Houston (unbuilt) posted by JB Anderson on September 19, 2001 at 18:53:41:

I was a real estate consultant in the '80s and '90s, and three times I performed feasibility studies for this building and the site it was to occupy.

I don't recall Hines being involved (though they may have been at some point), but Century Development (Richard Everett) and Mitchell Energy and Development (George Mitchell) certainly were at various times, as was the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), the government body that worked to clean up the S&L mess.

The problem with such tall structures is that they cannot be justified economically. As building height gets above 45-50 floors, requirements for elevator cores and utilities significantly reduce efficiency and increase cost per rentable square foot. There has to be a strong non-economic motive such as ego or image to justify an 82-story office building. Rental rates would have to be higher than those of equal quality space in shorter buildings.

The BOSW tower was to be built on the so-called Super Block in downtown Houston. This block enjoyed excellent vehicle traffic patterns, but also, very importantly, offered the potential to be a major hub in the downtown tunnel system. This would have made the underground retail space very valuable. However, actually making the tunnel connections that would have created the hub required cooperation of adjacent property owners, not all of whom were amenable to the idea since it might have reduced their own competitive positions.

As much as anyone, I would have loved to see the building come to fruition, but it just never made financial sense, moreso in the extremely overbuilt market that was Houston in the '80s.

 


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