withstandhurricane winds

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Jeff Mickler, CEO of locally based Jacob White Construction Co.,says the complex's roof is much like flower beds that remain intactduring windstorms. "They have a bunch of plants with a bunch ofroots that hold down," he points out. "Those roofs are like littlelegs and they dig deep."

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Unlike flat roofs, green roofs don't have small edgesoverlapping the sides of a building. "There's nothing for the windto grab into," Mickler says.

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In addition, the office buildings at 251 Medical Center Blvd.were the location of choice for medical tenants and their familiesduring the worst of the hurricane. "They felt it was the safestplace to be during the storm," says Timothy Gregory, manager ofbusiness development with Transwestern's Houston office, who ishandling leasing for the complex.

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With no repairs necessary for 251 Medical Center Blvd.,Mickler's company plans to break ground within the week on 253Medical Center Blvd., a 100% preleased building that also will havea green roof and other green attributes. In addition, the developeralso plans to break ground on a similar 35,000-sf building alongthe Gulf Freeway in the next 60 days.

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Mickler declined to discuss actual construction costs for thebuildings, but he tells GlobeSt.com that costs for green projectstend to be 1% to 8% higher than standard construction costs,depending on the type of LEED certification. But, given savings onthe back end and in light of the design's strength during thehurricane, Mickler hopes similar buildings will go onto the drawingboard.

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"We're ecstatic at how the property came through the hurricane,"Mickler says. "We showed that a green roof held up well in a CatTwo or Three wind. We need more of them."

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Meanwhile in Houston's CBD, Hines vice president GeorgeLancaster says the 1.3-million-sf JPMorgan Chase Tower at 600Travis St. will be open for business today, at least partially."The offices from floors one to 40 on the east side won't befunctional, but everything else will be open," he says.

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Lancaster couldn't provide a timeline as to when office on theeast side will be reopened because it hinges on how quickly glasscan be shipped and installed. He says Hines is willing to work torelocate displaced tenants if needed. But right now, he says thatmany tenants are still in the assessment phase.

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