HOUSTON-Gearing up to put more office product in the tight Energy Corridor, Transwestern Houston is planning to start construction on a two-building, 700,000-sf project. The first phase of the as-yet unnamed project will break ground in Q1 2008 and take 18 months to complete.

The construction cost is still being formulated, but similar class A buildings have gone up for $225 per sf. “Right now we’re planning twin buildings, with the first phase at around 350,000,” says Carleton Riser, Transwestern’s managing director. The twins will sit on 21 acres at Eldridge and Enclave parkways near the 878-acre Enclave corporate office park. “If it’s a build-to-suit, the project could be designed and sited differently,” Riser adds. Houston-based Kirksey Architecture is designing the twin-tower development.

Riser tells GlobeSt.com that the current plan for Transwestern and its institutional partner is to build it, lease it and sell it. He doesn’t anticipate much of a lease-up problem, particularly in a submarket that has become attractive to major energy companies, their subsidiaries and their venders.

“Space in the Energy Corridor is very tight,” Riser points out. “The class A vacancy rate is less than 5%.” Added to that, he says the area is a controlled environment from a development perspective, partly due to wetlands issues.

The new project is moving from the drawing board to reality just as Transwestern passes the $1-billion mark for 27 projects under development and in the pipeline, locally and nationwide. The milestone is an important one, Riser says, and not because it just looks good for the bottom line.

“One of our corporate goals has been to continue enhancing our position in the development business,” Riser explains. “To that end, we’re beefing up staff and making strategic moves to increase market share in cities where we operate and want to operate.”

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