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Houston, No Problem

It's one of the biggest metros in North America and – despite all kinds of top rankings for universities and quality of life – perhaps one of the most overlooked. That's saying something, because it takes some effort to overlook 4.8 million people helping to produce a $230-billion gross area product. But area industrial product is on the minds of real estate professionals in the city.
        Weingarten Realty Investors and Galveston-based American National Insurance Co. are teaming to construct a 300,000-sq.-ft. (27,870-sq.-m.) distribution center in Railwood Industrial Park for lease by Houston-based Shell Oil Products. Expected to be complete by the third quarter of 2003, the facility will be part of a development that boasts 2.5 million sq. ft. (232,250 sq. m.) of industrial space, but with 120 acres (49 hectares) still awaiting development. Shell is consolidating distribution activity at the new facility, which will employ 30 to 40.
        Closer to downtown, Opus West is developing a 638,000-sq.-ft. (59,270-sq.-m.) office warehouse and service center facility on 45 acres (18 hectares), with the first phase comprising three buildings with 200,000 sq. ft. (18,580-sq. m.) of space. Construction will begin in the third quarter of this year, with completion in April 2004.
See the SITES

Texas Department of
Economic Development

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Texas Workforce Commission
Labor Market Information

Southwest Research Institute

Greater Houston Partnership


San Antonio Economic
Development Foundation

Greater Dallas Chamber

        The Port of Houston is among the leading ports in the Western Hemisphere in tonnage processed. Looking to move some of that tonnage is Belgium-based petrochemical 3PL provider Katoen Natie, which is expanding its Houston Polymers Terminal in La Porte (near Baytown) to some 1.2 million sq. ft. (111,480 sq. m.). Four large warehouses, a chemical compounding facility, two silo packaging buildings, a railyard with 300 railcar spots and an office facility are currently being constructed, and Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. will be the first tenant at the facilities.
        Ivo Creton, project manager for Katoen Natie, leads the engineering effort for the entire NAFTA region. He describes Houston as the "center of gravity" for that whole range of operations, and says this project will be finished by the end of 2003, after breaking ground in October 2001. Asked where else the company is growing, he is hard-pressed to say where it's not.
        "We are expanding at a similar facility in Dayton, Texas," he says. "We are expanding in Edison, N.J. We will expand in Mexico City and also in Canada, where we are looking at several locations. Properties where we own the building and have adjacent land are the most likely to be expanded."
        In the Houston area, he adds, the company owns around 75 percent of its portfolio, and in the NAFTA region, just over 50 percent.
        "It's good to have some healthy balance between leasing and owned buildings, because business comes in cycles, and it might be easier to get rid of buildings in slow periods," he says. The company's worldwide portfolio amounts to some 60 million sq. ft. (5.6 million sq. m.), and includes facilities for handling automotive, commodities and consumer goods as well. But no matter how far the firm may roam, Creton says the Antwerp-based company has had roots in Texas from its inception.
        "'Katoen' means 'cotton,' he explains. "We started with that 150 years ago, receiving cotton from Galveston. So through our Gulf Coast operations we came back to our roots."
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