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houstonfella

BG Group Place (formerly MainPlace) in downtown Houston

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Hines has done residential before- haven't they?

Why can't they do a 47 story mixed use building with retail, residential, and office space? If it's on or close to Main it makes sense to diversify this development. The restaurants/ bars on the ground level of the Rice lofts seem to be holding their own and last I checked the Rice lofts are 98% occupied and the rent is around 1500 a month. There is a demand for housing. Hines really needs to make a splash in downtown with a 'new' type of development for downtown Houston. They really do. The more we can put people in a quality building 24/7 the more there will be a demand for retail, restaurants, and other services in downtown. As great as Pennzoil and Republic/Nations bank are they almost do a disservice at the street level because you are walking past a blank wall that kills any momentum on the street level. We need to create synergy not voids.

In Chicago the city goes one step further and they require that even parking garages contribute by adding retail or restaurants around the perimeter. They require the parking garages to be architectural. We are not Chicago but it would be nice for the developers to think this way because that is what the market demands.

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Hines has done residential before- haven't they?

Why can't they do a 47 story mixed use building with retail, residential, and office space? If it's on or close to Main it makes sense to diversify this development. The restaurants/ bars on the ground level of the Rice lofts seem to be holding their own and last I checked the Rice lofts are 98% occupied and the rent is around 1500 a month. There is a demand for housing. Hines really needs to make a splash in downtown with a 'new' type of development for downtown Houston. They really do. The more we can put people in a quality building 24/7 the more there will be a demand for retail, restaurants, and other services in downtown. As great as Pennzoil and Republic/Nations bank are they almost do a disservice at the street level because you are walking past a blank wall that kills any momentum on the street level. We need to create synergy not voids.

In Chicago the city goes one step further and they require that even parking garages contribute by adding retail or restaurants around the perimeter. They require the parking garages to be architectural. We are not Chicago but it would be nice for the developers to think this way because that is what the market demands.

The most that Post Rice can get is $1.77 per square foot for a 1/1 unit that is 733 square feet. Their average lease rate is $1.54 per square foot. Not even close to the rates that are required to justify new highrise residential construction, which is somewhere north of $2.00 per square foot, and at which point, demand really thins out. Also, as of 6/20/07, Post Rice was 92% occupied, down from a peak of 99% in November 2005.

Aside from a few rental units in the Four Seasons that are outrageously priced, the rental units in 917 Main have the highest average ask rates in downtown, at $1.75 per square foot.

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The most that Post Rice can get is $1.77 per square foot for a 1/1 unit that is 733 square feet. Their average lease rate is $1.54 per square foot. Not even close to the rates that are required to justify new highrise residential construction, which is somewhere north of $2.00 per square foot, and at which point, demand really thins out. Also, as of 6/20/07, Post Rice was 92% occupied, down from a peak of 99% in November 2005.

Aside from a few rental units in the Four Seasons that are outrageously priced, the rental units in 917 Main have the highest average ask rates in downtown, at $1.75 per square foot.

I checked last week. I was looking for an apartment and every place that I checked near downtown, midtown, etc was at least 96% occupied. This would justify Camden building a second large complex in midtown because the demand is there. Rice only had two or three 1 bedroom units available in the next 1-2 months. Go check for yourself.

Edited by shasta

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I checked last week. I was looking for an apartment and every place that I checked near downtown, midtown, etc was at least 96% occupied. This would justify Camden building a second large complex in midtown because the demand is there. Rice only had two or three 1 bedroom units available in the next 1-2 months. Go check for yourself.

What they were telling you was the sum of what is physically occupied and those units for which they have accepted applications but don't yet have income. To a financier, all that matters is cash flow. All that matters is the 92%. Also, the one-bedroom units tend to have the highest occupancy levels. I don't doubt your figures in the least, but it is important to bear in mind the financial risks from the developers' perspective when assessing real estate markets.

Midtown is a somewhat different story because midrises don't cost as much to build as do highrises and the land doesn't cost quite as much, which means that they can be made affordable to a greater number of people. It is easier to justify Midtown or 4th Ward at this time.

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It's true, there does seem to be a lot of empty space on main that needs to be filled in. I guess what I worry about is if they build this tower with absolutely no room for retail, and downtown really takes off in the next few years, that area will always be empty. It's more of an investment in the future, but I guess business people don't like that sort of uncertainty.

With HP being so near by, and Macy's and American Apparel (?), it seems like downtown will become more busy in the next few years and it might be a good investment in that case. But I guess it's still a risk.

very risky indeed. look at midtown growth along the rail line or lack thereof.

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Why can't they do a 47 story mixed use building with retail, residential, and office space? If it's on or close to Main it makes sense to diversify this development. The restaurants/ bars on the ground level of the Rice lofts seem to be holding their own

The retail on the ground level of rice has been cyclical that's why some have gone and others took the chance and opened something back up. i know that the company in dallas that manages the rice wasn't really as friendly as they could be to the businesses which is why some left. i still think macy's is a good indication of the shopping situation. their hours indicate when people are actually down there to make it profitable.

sounds like hines is assuming that with the positive business environment in houston that office space is more critical downtown and hence the office building.

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The retail on the ground level of rice has been cyclical that's why some have gone and others took the chance and opened something back up. i know that the company in dallas that manages the rice wasn't really as friendly as they could be to the businesses which is why some left. i still think macy's is a good indication of the shopping situation. their hours indicate when people are actually down there to make it profitable.

I spoke with a rep from Post Properties a year or so back, and they commented that one of the most challenging factors about their urban projects is that retailers--especially restaurants--generate a lot of garbage but can't just take it out the back door and put it in an out-of-sight dumpster like they can with a strip center. And they don't like taking garbage through the front of the establishment.

sounds like hines is assuming that with the positive business environment in houston that office space is more critical downtown and hence the office building.

There's certainly a highest-and-best-use thing going on downtown. For several years, the highest use was residential pretty much throughout. It seems as though there's now a better mix of sites.

Also something for shasta to consider, btw, is that residential and office uses don't often mix all that well because institutional investors tend to look for office properties or residential properties, but rarely both. If an investor wants both downtown residential and downtown office in their portfolio so as to diversify away risk, it is easy enough to buy all or part of two seperate buildings, but if they want only one and not the other, which is entirely possible depending on varying market conditions and expectations, then they'll move along to something that suits them better.

Additionally, it is difficult to justify a rent premium on space in buildings that mix residential and office. Retail mixes well with either use, but there are really very few people that would rather lease a home in the same building that they work--most prefer to seperate the living and working function by at least a short walk, if not by a greater distance. The greater virtue in mixing uses is not so much to give a building as many functions as possible so much as it is to ensure that the elements that comprise a neighborhood are well within walking distance of one another.

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I would live in the same building that I work in. That would be SO easy. If you have to be at work at 9 AM, you can wake up at 8:15 or 8:30. Lunch break? Head upstairs.

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I would live in the same building that I work in. That would be SO easy. If you have to be at work at 9 AM, you can wake up at 8:15 or 8:30. Lunch break? Head upstairs.

Most people don't like being that tied to their job. If they don't like what they do, being in the same building for so much of their waking life creates a feeling of entrapment.

Additionally, the interests of both residential and office tenants are to keep a secure premesis, but that becomes exceptionally difficult if the same elevator bank serves different populations that come and go at different hours. The best solution would likely entail giving each building use its own lobby with either a seperate entrance or an access-controlled interior passageway, but then you may as well have one office building next to a residential building, joined by a skywalk or tunnel. Same difference, more or less.

...now live-work units--that's a whole different story altogether. Those really can be sweet little deals, but the target market for those tends to be an entrepreneurial or telecommuting crowd, so I come back full circle to the bit about people needing to be happy with their work.

Edited by TheNiche

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I would live in the same building that I work in. That would be SO easy.
there might be a slot on baker st. :D
Also something for shasta to consider, btw, is that residential and office uses don't often mix all that well because institutional investors tend to look for office properties or residential properties, but rarely both.
managing a mixed property might be more challenging as well.

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What about faux-stret level retail instead?

That what my building has. A Starbucks is in the lobby, which connects to the tunnel system.

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Most people don't like being that tied to their job. If they don't like what they do, being in the same building for so much of their waking life creates a feeling of entrapment.

Additionally, the interests of both residential and office tenants are to keep a secure premesis, but that becomes exceptionally difficult if the same elevator bank serves different populations that come and go at different hours. The best solution would likely entail giving each building use its own lobby with either a seperate entrance or an access-controlled interior passageway, but then you may as well have one office building next to a residential building, joined by a skywalk or tunnel. Same difference, more or less.

...now live-work units--that's a whole different story altogether. Those really can be sweet little deals, but the target market for those tends to be an entrepreneurial or telecommuting crowd, so I come back full circle to the bit about people needing to be happy with their work.

Also look at it this way, when I lived 5 minutes from home, it made life MUCH easier to run errands or go to the ball park while everyone else was struggling just to get home in the 'burbs.

I lived in the 'burbs. the burbs sucked.

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Also look at it this way, when I lived 5 minutes from home, it made life MUCH easier
most of us live 0 mins from home. ;)

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Also look at it this way, when I lived 5 minutes from home, it made life MUCH easier to run errands or go to the ball park while everyone else was struggling just to get home in the 'burbs.

I lived in the 'burbs. the burbs sucked.

To be clear, I'm weighing the value of a residential/office mixed-use structure vs. residential next to office, rather than simply long commute vs. short commute.

To burb or not to burb is not at issue.

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there are numerous empty business spaces currently along main. if there was that much demand those business spaces would be taken up and i would believe that the hrs of the ones that are there currently would be extended beyond typical business hrs.

You are forgeting there will be 47 floors occupied by tennants and they would benefit during lunch time. It has worked with other buildings; however, after 5:00pm is another topic.

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....... however, after 5:00pm is another topic.

and i believe this is what many living in the area have the most issue with. on the weekends and evenings, if they need something they have to go somewhere else. until there is demand (which means more living downtown), primarily businesses with big pockets will be those to enter the market.

Edited by musicman

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and i believe this is what many living in the area have the most issue with. on the weekends and evenings, if they need something they have to go somewhere else. until there is demand (which means more living downtown), primarily businesses with big pockets will be those to enter the market.

Soon there will be the pavilions at least. Maybe if that is popular enough during non business hours, other businesses nearby will follow. That's why I think retail on this part of main street may make sense - because it's in walking distance of the pavilions. If the pavilions are as hot as we all hope they are, people will want to open businesses within walking distance to try to cash in on some of that crowd.

Opening retail a few blocks away on Main makes the most sense if there is a fairly continual retail presence between the pavilions and the main street location. People are less likely to walk two deserted blocks to get to one isolated store than the are to walk two busy blocks. So I think that is the real issue.

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Soon there will be the pavilions at least. Maybe if that is popular enough during non business hours, other businesses nearby will follow. That's why I think retail on this part of main street may make sense - because it's in walking distance of the pavilions. If the pavilions are as hot as we all hope they are, people will want to open businesses within walking distance to try to cash in on some of that crowd.

Opening retail a few blocks away on Main makes the most sense if there is a fairly continual retail presence between the pavilions and the main street location. People are less likely to walk two deserted blocks to get to one isolated store than the are to walk two busy blocks. So I think that is the real issue.

That is a good plan. I think the Pavilions will be what we want it to be. I think all of Main Street should be lined up with retail and restaurants.

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I wonder why Hines didn't follow through with that 'architecturally significant' parking garage hoopla.

He's created a nasty view for the proposed new tower.

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I wonder why Hines didn't follow through with that 'architecturally significant' parking garage hoopla.

He's created a nasty view for the proposed new tower.

Does it say he gave it up in the portion of the article only viewable by subscribers?

And why do you say he created a nasty view?

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It seems unlikely to me that the "architecturally significant" parking garage is going to be across the street from the proposed trophy tower and remain as unfinished looking as it currently does. Maybe they are waiting for the final design of the big tower before the put a facade on the garage?

And why do you say he created a nasty view?

He means that people working in the first 14 floors of the new tower will be looking out at the ugliest parking garage in Houston which was recently built across the street from the proposed site by Hines. Unless they are planning on improving it...

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Additionally, the interests of both residential and office tenants are to keep a secure premesis, but that becomes exceptionally difficult if the same elevator bank serves different populations that come and go at different hours.

Modern elevators can be programmed to service different floors at different hours.

Also, elevator key systems are common, effective and easily used.

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I'm curious. What do you think the estimated cost of building a 50 story tower like this would be?

+100mm or -100mm?

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I did some searches of projects on skyscraperpage and most of them in the sub 40 floor range are well under 100mm.

I've always wanted to build a tower.

My goal would be to build a completely self sustaining mixed use tower that combines office and living space and some dual spaces (living spaces with attached working spaces for at home professionals). ideally, the building would be able to keep running in spite of power outages, etc. It would also turn it's ability to generate power in to a revenue generator where the building could sell it's power to it's residents at a substantial discount over being on "the grid" and paying reliant or someone else.

Edited by gwilson

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The HBJ article said the building will bee 900,000 sq. At $200 psf, that would put it at $180 mil. The new Enron Tower, at 1.2 million sf, reportedly cost $300 mil to build, $250 psf. Admittedly, that tower was a Taj Mahal, but tower construction is expensive.

Interesting fantasy you have, g. Me, I fantasize about building high speed rail nationwide. :blush:

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wow. Is that in large part due to land cost, or is that construction only?

It's overwhelmingly construction costs. A prime CBD block in Houston would only cost 10-15 Million.

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$200 mil (or more).

Wow, that seems like a lot.

Before my current home I used to live in a brand-new (completed in late 2006) 47-story building. It cost $60 million. I know residential buildings have different demands than commerical buildings, but a $140 million premium on a building of the same height seems like alot. Then again, I'm not in the real estate development game.

Shoreham-003.jpg

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Here is a building that adds class A office space, retail (and a restaurant), plus residential pretty well. It is a 660 foot building being built in Atlanta's Buckhead District.

The Sovereign

image_1549646.jpg

DSC_0649-vi.jpg

Edited by Trae

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Editor, it is possible that the cost did not include buildout. That is common in condo towers. Any idea the square footage of the building?

BTW, another example, closer to home, is 5 Houston Center. It is 580,000 sf, and cost $115 mil to build in 2002....dead-on $200 psf.

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From Fernz' description in the other topic, it sounds like this will look similar to the Houston City Centre project on the Shamrock site two blocks up. Not bad if you ask me. Both are 3/4 block projects, in this case saving wrapping around the Stowers Building. So would it be reasonable to guess parking on the quarter block on Fannin adjacent to Stowers, and the tower section on the half block along Main. This could be real nice.

I am sorry for misleading you. I did not mean angling as in the City Center project where the angle is on the elevation. I meant angling as seen in floor plan, meaning that it is not a square box. I would say the shape is "similar" to the PanAm building in NY. It is all curtain wall though, very slick, without any strong bands or patterns, as most of the buildings you can see on the architect's website (particularly this one: http://www.pickardchilton.com/pagProject.a...#39;&ID=43)

I saw a printed version of the rendering, so I apologize, I have no links or images to post. But I'll say it again, it is a nice, slick building, much better that their last tower (Calpine Center) but not another Pennzoil.

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The HBJ article said the building will bee 900,000 sq. At $200 psf, that would put it at $180 mil. The new Enron Tower, at 1.2 million sf, reportedly cost $300 mil to build, $250 psf. Admittedly, that tower was a Taj Mahal, but tower construction is expensive.

Interesting fantasy you have, g. Me, I fantasize about building high speed rail nationwide. :blush:

Well, I guess I'll keep with building big houses for a while. But who knows.

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Modern elevators can be programmed to service different floors at different hours.

Also, elevator key systems are common, effective and easily used.

This is true, but the introduction of visitors to the mix of residents and office employees can create a security risk...and for people paying highrise prices, there is a strong tendency within that market to seek a commensurate level of building security.

I did some searches of projects on skyscraperpage and most of them in the sub 40 floor range are well under 100mm.

I've always wanted to build a tower.

My goal would be to build a completely self sustaining mixed use tower that combines office and living space and some dual spaces (living spaces with attached working spaces for at home professionals). ideally, the building would be able to keep running in spite of power outages, etc. It would also turn it's ability to generate power in to a revenue generator where the building could sell it's power to it's residents at a substantial discount over being on "the grid" and paying reliant or someone else.

How do you handle water purification and wastewater treatment and removal?

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I did some searches of projects on skyscraperpage and most of them in the sub 40 floor range are well under 100mm.

I've always wanted to build a tower.

My goal would be to build a completely self sustaining mixed use tower that combines office and living space and some dual spaces (living spaces with attached working spaces for at home professionals). ideally, the building would be able to keep running in spite of power outages, etc. It would also turn it's ability to generate power in to a revenue generator where the building could sell it's power to it's residents at a substantial discount over being on "the grid" and paying reliant or someone else.

Natural gas is expensive electricity. Combined-cycle would be too large/complex for a single building, so it'd probably be just regular turbine, at half the efficiency (twice the fuel costs.) Your residents would strangle you after the first electricity bill. It would probably be several times the cost of grid electricity. If on the other hand, you mean switching over from grid to on-demand generation via diesel generator, this is a standard system hospitals, data centers, etc. use. In this case, your residents would strangle you when they realized the premium it added to their condos w.r.t. to the small benefit. Even then, it wouldn't be fast enough to switch over before all the computers in the building shut down. You'd have to add a very expensive Uninterruptible Power Supply system for that. And if you want to offer datacenter grade electricity, start adding in various line conditioners, triple redundant generators, etc..... I think there's a reason this doesn't exist in residential buildings :) It'd be cheaper just to give a small UPS system to each tenant for their computers.

My building has backup generators, but only because extended loss of electricity would be catastrophic. People could lose their entire life's work.

Edited by woolie

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Natural gas is expensive electricity. Combined-cycle would be too large/complex for a single building, so it'd probably be just regular turbine, at half the efficiency (twice the fuel costs.) Your residents would strangle you after the first electricity bill. It would probably be several times the cost of grid electricity. If on the other hand, you mean switching over from grid to on-demand generation via diesel generator, this is a standard system hospitals, data centers, etc. use. In this case, your residents would strangle you when they realized the premium it added to their condos w.r.t. to the small benefit. Even then, it wouldn't be fast enough to switch over before all the computers in the building shut down. You'd have to add a very expensive Uninterruptible Power Supply system for that. And if you want to offer datacenter grade electricity, start adding in various line conditioners, triple redundant generators, etc..... I think there's a reason this doesn't exist in residential buildings :) It'd be cheaper just to give a small UPS system to each tenant for their computers.

My building has backup generators, but only because extended loss of electricity would be catastrophic. People could lose their entire life's work.

There is a building in New York that is "off the grid", and from what I remember it was about at 12 storey building at the minimum. The only reason I know this is because during the North East blackout several years ago, they showed this Co-op that had lights on during the blackout. They had a generator in constant use, but I forgot the specifics. I tried looking it up online, but got zilch.

It IS possible to have a "relatively" self contained building, but it would require the use of a special design to for the use of rainwater for (non drinkable) use, solar panels to (partially) off set electricity, air conditioning would be a rather serious challenge, however in our climate, but I think it can be done.

The trick is to build a reasonably low maintenance cost building that would save considerably on electricity, but I don't see it being done unless oil has a continuous climb for the next few years.

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Editor, it is possible that the cost did not include buildout. That is common in condo towers. Any idea the square footage of the building?

BTW, another example, closer to home, is 5 Houston Center. It is 580,000 sf, and cost $115 mil to build in 2002....dead-on $200 psf.

It's not a condo building, it's apartments, if that matters.

Again, I'm not in real estate development, so I'm not sure what you mean by "buildout." If you mean finished walls and wiring and everything, then that cost should be included in the $60 million figure. The whole thing was pre-wired with satellite television in every bedroom and living room, plus T1s to each apartment (on the best damned internet provider on the planet, but that's another thread).

According to the management web site it's 765,000 square feet with 11,000 square feet of that retail.

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Yeah, apartments would matter, since apartments are leased already built out and ready to move in. Many condo towers are just shells, and the buildout is decided by and paid by the buyer of the unit.

As for 765,000 sf for $60 million, I'm stumped. $78 per square foot just doesn't sound feasible, especially in an expensive market such as Chicago. I can only say that my architect friends tell me that office towers in Houston generally cost $200 per square foot to build (obviously, this is a VERY general figure).

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We work mainly with steel at work and the price has more than doubled over the course of 4 years. I can't imagine how bad it must be for large scale projects like a 47 story tower!

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How do you handle water purification and wastewater treatment and removal?

I'm no engineer but I imagine well water could be used to supply the building. I've already had a couple projects in town where I've sunk wells and they provide a lot more water (with the right pumping and storage system) than people realize. Waste is another issue though. I read not too long ago of an office building in Nebraska that collected all of it's waste water, treated and filtered it and used it to maintain grounds and public areas (it was what came out of the water hoses to wash windows, grounds, it filled the water fountains and toilets in public areas, it watered the grass, etc). This concept could be extended where the waste water re-use is used for all toilets and such. Solid waste was also collected and treated and turned in to composted fertilizer and sold to nurserys.

I don't know how well any of that would work on the scale of 600,000 square feet though.

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Natural gas is expensive electricity. Combined-cycle would be too large/complex for a single building, so it'd probably be just regular turbine, at half the efficiency (twice the fuel costs.) Your residents would strangle you after the first electricity bill. It would probably be several times the cost of grid electricity. If on the other hand, you mean switching over from grid to on-demand generation via diesel generator, this is a standard system hospitals, data centers, etc. use. In this case, your residents would strangle you when they realized the premium it added to their condos w.r.t. to the small benefit. Even then, it wouldn't be fast enough to switch over before all the computers in the building shut down. You'd have to add a very expensive Uninterruptible Power Supply system for that. And if you want to offer datacenter grade electricity, start adding in various line conditioners, triple redundant generators, etc..... I think there's a reason this doesn't exist in residential buildings :) It'd be cheaper just to give a small UPS system to each tenant for their computers.

My building has backup generators, but only because extended loss of electricity would be catastrophic. People could lose their entire life's work.

I didn't intend natural gas or diesel for primary power generation. When talking about a building on the scale of 40 stories, there is plenty of room for photovoltaics and with proper engineering, wind turbine power could be used on the roof. I've done no research in to how much this would cost over traditional electric sources over time or what the impact would be on the construction budget. Geothermal technology could be used as well.

While it would be great to have a building completely self sustaining, I suppose the primary goal would be to just make it as sustainable as possible. Energy efficiency, low heat gain, alternative methods of heating and cooling.

Yeah, apartments would matter, since apartments are leased already built out and ready to move in. Many condo towers are just shells, and the buildout is decided by and paid by the buyer of the unit.

As for 765,000 sf for $60 million, I'm stumped. $78 per square foot just doesn't sound feasible, especially in an expensive market such as Chicago. I can only say that my architect friends tell me that office towers in Houston generally cost $200 per square foot to build (obviously, this is a VERY general figure).

Condo buildings are usually built as shells, but there is a per square foot allowance in the purchase price for basic build out. So there is a basic build out cost included in the construction of the building. The owners simply have to supplement that if they want anything that isn't part of the basic build out.

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Here is something I found.

eco18

This building uses solar and geo-thermal as well as many other technologies to be eco-friendly.

While my motivation isn't necessarily a penchant for tree hugging but rather a desire to keep the building sustainable even in a time of crisis/disaster and to keep costs down over time, the techniques and technologies are still the fundamentally the same.

Here is an article about it.

First building to meet Tier Three status under Chicago's Green Permit Program.

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As for 765,000 sf for $60 million, I'm stumped.

Me too, especially for something completed so recently. Steel and concrete prices have risen so much that I just don't see how this is possible, even using low-cost construction techniques like tunnel-form (think Mercer).

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I'm no engineer but I imagine well water could be used to supply the building.
with subsidence so bad in houston because of wells, the city no longer allows it, at least for residential

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I didn't intend natural gas or diesel for primary power generation. When talking about a building on the scale of 40 stories, there is plenty of room for photovoltaics and with proper engineering, wind turbine power could be used on the roof. I've done no research in to how much this would cost over traditional electric sources over time or what the impact would be on the construction budget. Geothermal technology could be used as well.

While it would be great to have a building completely self sustaining, I suppose the primary goal would be to just make it as sustainable as possible. Energy efficiency, low heat gain, alternative methods of heating and cooling.

Condo buildings are usually built as shells, but there is a per square foot allowance in the purchase price for basic build out. So there is a basic build out cost included in the construction of the building. The owners simply have to supplement that if they want anything that isn't part of the basic build out.

PV is extremely expensive and has a low capacity factor (it only produces electricity part of the time, and peak electricity an even smaller amount.) You'd be looking at a min. of 5x grid costs, and you'd still need to purchase from the grid for the majority of electricity use :) A wind turbine could provide enough electricity for a building, but you still have to deal with low capacity factor (about 30%), so most of the electricity would still be from the grid. If you wanted to just offset the electricity use of the building in renewable generation without providing actual direct power to the building, it'd be simpler just to place it outside the city where the wind is strong and have it just contribute to the grid. I'm not sure there's any potential geothermal energy in the area, not enough to generate electricity anyway. You could use passive geothermal as a heat sink to help reduce HVAC costs. In the same way you could use solar water heating to reduce gas costs.

Not to sound like I'm not for green building; I am, but I think expectations need to be realistic. I want contained systems. I want conservation. I want to phase out natgas and coal power and replace it with wind and nuclear. I think the best opportunities for green building in Houston are mostly in regard to site specific design and insulation techniques that reduce the need for A/C, which is one of the main components of power use that could be reduced in a reasonably simple way.

What someone referred to above is a gray water system. A second wastewater system is built to separate out reusable water (bathtubs, sinks, washing machine, etc.) from toilet water. The water is minimally treated or allowed to settle. Then it's used for yard purposes or whatever. But personally I think even having grounds that need watering in the first place is completely contradictory to any environmentally based design. It's like people who live in 3000sf houses in Kingwood on quarter acre lots who think they're environmentally responsible because they drive a hybrid SUV to their job. Completely miss the point.

Anyway... I'll stop my thread derailment.

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