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A SITE SELECTION INVESTMENT PROFILE
HOBBY AREA DISTRICT
From Site Selection magazine, May 2019
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Houston, We Have a Solution

Businesses needing access to the airport and Gulf ports increasingly call Hobby home.

HOBBY AREA DISTRICT
Vibe
Photo courtesy of Hayman Advisors LLC

by RON STARNER

If you thought that a premium business address in Houston was hard to find and even harder to afford, think again. The Hobby Area District at William P. Hobby Airport in Houston has a solution for you.

Contemporary, recently renovated office space just minutes from the runway can be found in the Hobby Area District at a fraction of the cost tenants would face in premium locations like the Houston Central Business District and the Galleria.

If you haven’t heard of the Hobby Area District, you’re not alone. Until recently, the special purpose management district within the City of Houston had kept a low profile, but that is changing. After adopting an ambitious strategic plan, the District’s leaders are now pursuing a mission to “establish the Hobby Area District as an attractive, connected, talented and celebrated place to invest and live.” The plan also seeks to position the District as “a celebrated place where commerce and community thrive.”

Thanks to the redoubled efforts of many, commerce is already thriving. “Powell Industries is our largest employer, and Aviation Institute Maintenance is a school at Hobby that trains and produces airline mechanics and other technicians,” says Regina Lindsey, director of economic and community development for the Hobby Area District. “The District covers 15 square miles. We have Hobby Airport and land adjacent to rail. Businesses here tend to be manufacturing, MROs, retail and service, etc. And we are close to the Port of Houston. Our goal is to introduce the District, make people aware of it, and help businesses get established here.”

Upward of 20,000 workers are employed daily in the District, and by 2040, there will be an estimated 35,000 jobs in the area. Manufacturing and transportation jobs will account for close to half of these positions. The primary Hobby Area District labor shed is an area with 700,000 residents, with projections for up to 743,419 residents by 2020.

The District has identified the following three sectors as primed for employment growth:

  • Gateway Operations: Distribution and logistics, retail and hospitality, and related space users will be able to take advantage of access to the fastest-growing airport in the U.S.
  • Professional Services: Engineering and back-office support operations have been growing steadily in recent years, with total employment rising by 13% from 2012 to 2017 in the District.
  • Advanced Manufacturing: Metalworking and machinery manufacturing are prime targets for the District. The Pew Research Center forecasts that domestic output in these sectors has increased 85% over the last 30 years, with these fields already exhibiting strength in the Hobby area.

The good news is that the Hobby Area District has space to accommodate new tenants, and that space is affordable. “Hobby is one of the smaller submarkets in the southwest corridor of Houston,” says Robert Hayman, principal of Hayman Advisors LLC in Houston. “Most buildings are under 200,000 square feet and rents are in the $15 to $16 per-square-foot range — a good value compared to Houston CBD and the Galleria.”

The 190,000-sq.-ft. Vibe Hobby building has been modernized and rehabbed for tenants seeking an upscale Hobby address. “The building has all new systems,” says Hayman. “We’re adding more landscaping for privacy. We’re redoing the interior. We also have some shared space, mostly executive suite space, that is fully leased now. But we’re considering adding more space. A new user could take up to 9,000 square feet upstairs.”


“Within five minutes of the Vibe Building, you can be at the drop-off gate at the airport. We are literally at the edge of the runway. You can’t get any closer than that.”
— Robert Hayman, Principal, Hayman Advisors LLC

Hayman adds that “the chief selling points of an address in the Hobby Area District are that it is conveniently located between Downtown and the Clear Lake area; there are lots of opportunities for tech companies and government users; you can save quite a bit of money on airport parking and rent; you can have the same style of office product for a 20 to 30% discount; and you have the benefit of close proximity to the Port of Houston and the Houston Ship Channel.”

Liliana Rambo, general manager of Hobby Airport, says that when Southwest Airlines decided to have international flights going out of Hobby to Central and South America in 2015, it opened a whole new era for business travel in south Houston. “Southwest has also put a lot of effort into expanding their cargo operations going to Central and South America,” Rambo says. “We have six FBOs at Hobby, and because of our growth many more are looking to come to Hobby.”

With recent upgrades and expansions at Hobby Airport, getting to your final destination is easier than ever too. “Hobby Airport rivals Bush now,” says Hayman. “Within five minutes of the Vibe Building, you can be at the drop-off gate at the airport. We are literally at the edge of the runway. You can’t get any closer than that.”


This Investment Profile was prepared under the auspices of the Hobby Area District. For more information, contact Gabby Dirden at 832-982-2036 or by email at gdirden@hadistrict.org. On the web, go to www.hadistrict.org.

Ron Starner
Executive Vice President of Conway, Inc.

Ron Starner

Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Inc. He has been with Conway for 20 years and serves as editor of the TrustBelt Report and lead organizer of the annual TrustBelt Conference. He also writes extensively for Site Selection and Conway's Custom Content Publishing Division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.

  




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