A recovery emerges in the Houston office market

HOUSTON– Realty News Report’s Ralph Bivins: The last episode of THE RALPH BIVINS PROJECTpodcast features Cameron Colvill of Whitebox Real Estate.


RALPH BIVINS: Welcome, it’s Ralph Bivins with the Ralph Bivins Project. Remember to consult our website, realtynewsreport.com, to consult the daily news on regional and national subjects. You can subscribe to this podcast, The Ralph Bivins Project, on YouTube and Spotify and other platforms soon. Today we are going to speak with Cameron Colvill. You might recognize his name if you are familiar with real estate in Houston. His father, Chip Colvill, was the founder of Colvill Office Properties, a large company which was acquired by Cushman and Wakefield in 2020. Cameron recently joined Whitebox Real Estate which is new to Houston. Welcome, Cameron.

CAMERON COLVILL:Thanks Ralph. First of all, thank you for having me on your podcast. This is a great opportunity to get the Whitebox name out there. My dad has known you for years, you’re considered a legend in the Houston reporting space.

RALPH BIVINS:Thanks. It’s no secret that the office market in Houston has been a little soft for the past few years. Some might say really sweet. Lately, however, over the past 1-2 months, we’ve seen some activity indicating things are looking up. What do you think of that and the local economy?

CAMERON COLVILL:The past two years have been extremely difficult for all of us in the industry. Fortunately, we are resilient people. We know how to get through tough times. My dad went through 5-6 tough times. I’ve seen him work his cock in good times and bad. The feeling right now? Everyone feels good there. We have seen eight previous quarters of negative absorption. Just recently, for the first time in eight quarters, we saw positive absorption. We are very satisfied. We think we’re about to get everyone back to work. 94% of lost jobs have returned, which is great news. The vacancy rate is 26%. Downtown looks great.

Really, I’d say about 50-60% of all people are back in the downtown office, and probably closer to 70-80% of people are back in their offices in the suburban market. We are optimistic for the future. What we saw earlier is that a lot of companies do short-term extensions. They were just waiting for the bottom of the market. Well, I think we’ve seen the bottom of the market. I think what you’ll see here is a huge increase in activity as these companies renew themselves. Many of them have made lease extensions of one or two years. We should be very busy at Whitebox. The energy here is palpable. Certainly, since Grant Pruitt started this business in Dallas about six years ago, there is a certain energy in him that is contagious. He’s six-foot-five, he’s got so much energy, he’s sharp and polished and has a great company in Dallas. The Houston office was opened eight or nine months ago. We have a great group of guys and girls who are ready to hit the streets. It’s good to be here and I’m very excited for the future.

RALPH BIVINS: When you were talking about downtown a few years ago, you couldn’t help but feel bad for restaurant and deli owners because so many people had left because of COVID. Having so much restocking now is a good sign. There should be a lot of people around. The energy of the street must be there.

CAMERON COLVILL: The positive thing. Downtown is going nowhere. It’s super easy for employees of large companies to get there. The city has public transport and a system of tunnels. Every downtown landlord has spent millions of dollars on their buildings, so there have been a ton of major upgrades. That’s what we see. Getting people back to work downtown requires spending money to make money. You have to make people want to come back to work. I had the good fortune to take my training for Whitebox at the Dallas office. It was my dream to work for a company that offered cold brew on tap. Well, they had cold brew on tap. I felt like a character from that Hulu TV show, “Suits,” which has fancy glass doors and everyone’s names on the side walls in cool letters. Whitebox has a great office up there in Dallas.

No matter where you are, you should be excited to get back to work. They spent a lot of money on these buildings in downtown Houston. There should be no problems with the city center in the future. If you look at the sublease vacancy rate in downtown Houston, it’s about 3%, which is better than the city average.

My former colleagues at Cushman told me that they recently announced that Cheniere Energy was moving to a 152,000 square foot space in the Texas Tower. It’s a win for downtown.

Biography of Cameron Colville

Since expanding to Houston last September, Whitebox Real Estate has strengthened its staff. Cameron Colvill, the company’s new chief trading officer, joined Whitebox on July 5. Cameron was previously with Colvill Office Properties, which Cushman & Wakefield acquired in 2020. After graduating from Texas Christian University, Cameron worked with Swearingen Realty Group in Dallas. Whitebox recently moved its Houston office to the 510 Bering Drive building.

June 25, 2022 Real Estate News Report Copyright 2022



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