HOUSTON-British Petroleum has signed a short-term lease renewalfor 92,000 square feet at Younan Properties Inc.’s Two WestlakePark in the Energy Corridor. The lease is one of the largest dealsthe Woodland Hills, CA-based owner has signed this year, accordingto Chairman and CEO Zaya Younan.

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In total, Younan Properties has leased more than 320,000 squarefeet of office space in its Houston portfolio so far this year.Currently, the firm’s 11 building portfolio is more than 88%occupied, a 1.5% increase from the beginning of the year, Younannotes.

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“Houston has weathered the recession far better than othermarkets in the country – it is not as weak as the rest of thenation,” Younan tells GlobeSt. “We see Houston market stabilizingfaster than other markets as we come out of the recession. We thinkthe market has bottomed.”

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Perhaps most importantly, Younan says tenants who held off onrelocations or expansions are now coming back into the market.“They’re forecasting new hires, and they want to have space readyfor them,” he explains.

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Specifically, Younan notes that oil and gas companies did notcontract as much as those in other industries and are now hiringnew people. For example, BP has added to its workforce at the17-story Two Westlake Park, which Younan Properties has owned since2007. The publicly-traded energy giant has been a tenant in the379,108-square-foot building since 2005 and uses its space as acentral command center for its drilling operations.

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“In general, we see a positive dynamic in the oil and gasbusiness,” Younan says, adding that BP has discussed thepossibility of taking additional space in Two Westlake Park;however, the building is 100% occupied.

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Younan notes that BP’s lease was scheduled to roll in March2011, and the company chose to renew early, “Even though BPrecently completed a new building nearby, they felt they stillneeded space in our building,” he explains. Louis Rosenthal ofJones Lang LaSalle’s local office represented BP in the deal, whileYounan Properties was represented by Mike Martin of PM Realty.

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Younan attributes the firm’s strong leasing velocity to its newin-house leasing support team and third-party brokerage team. Lastmonth, the company brought on Michael Adams as a regional leasingmanager for Houston. In this newly established position, Adams isresponsible for driving Younan's leasing and marketing strategiesfor more than 2 million square feet of office space owned andmanaged by Younan in Houston.

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