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Air Liquide Center - 2 New Office Buildings for Memorial City

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While there had been rumblings of such a project in other threads, I figured it was time to start a separate one since Bisnow is reporting something a bit more specific.

 

We did some good old fashioned digging yesterday and found a gem—MetroNational is gearing up its latest office development in Memorial City.

 

Ballys-Fitness-center1.jpg

Tenants of the Bally Fitness Shopping Center at 9801 Katy Freeway (built in '01, 49k SF) temporarily shut down on Nov. 1 in preparation. MetroNational declined to comment on its plans, but Le Peep confirmed for us that the center will be demolished and an office tower will be constructed on the 3.4-acre site. It was informed there will be a 14 to 16-month construction process, and then Le Peep will reopen as ground-floor retail in the tower. We've learned the tailor in the center has also snagged a spot in the new project. Not returning is former anchor Bally's: The local stores were purchased by Blast Fitness, which closed this location—among others around town—this February. (What are they doing with old treadmills? We've got some new clothes but nowhere to hang them.)

 

 

Edited by ChannelTwoNews

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Ground floor retail.  This thread is going to be super boring.

 

 

Don't worry. The building is sure to be ugly.

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Don't worry. The building is sure to be ugly.

It's OK. We'll continue to take the jobs, the economic development and the ugly buildings that come with them out here on the west side.

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Don't worry. The building is sure to be ugly.

Probably true... But at least it will go with the other buildings and add that stellar blue ambiance. I mean, we can't expect anything that it will be some kind of marvel. This is a complex of suburban offices around a mall. It's far too late to turn Memorial City into the Woodlands' waterway. The same could be said for Uptown, but at least there are a few signatures there.

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It's OK. We'll continue to take the jobs, the economic development and the ugly buildings that come with them out here on the west side.

Ugh.

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It's OK. We'll continue to take the jobs, the economic development and the ugly buildings that come with them out here on the west side.

I actually live right behind Memorial city. This was a joke. I'm sure there will still be plenty for people to complain about even if there is ground floor retail. I'm surprised we didn't get the standard... "This should have been built in midtown or downtown already."

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 I'm surprised we didn't get the standard... "This should have been built in midtown or downtown already."

 

Well, the main proponent of that train of thought did weigh in right above you.  As usual, it was very thoughtful and has contributed immensely to the discussion.

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bally-katy-fwy.jpg

 

MetroNational has immediate plans to tear down this 2-story 12-year-old former Bally Fitness Shopping Center on a 3.44-acre site facing the I-10 feeder at the northeast corner of the Memorial City Mall — and replace it with some sort of new office tower, Real Estate Bisnow‘s Catie Dixon reports. The health club (along with all 9 other Houston Bally’s locations) was taken over by Blast Fitness last year — and shut down entirely this spring. As of the end of last week, all remaining tenants in the building at 9801 Katy Fwy. have closed up shop as well. MetroNational (as usual) wouldn’t comment on plans for the site half a mile east of its headquarters, but Dixon gets the scoop from the stores themselves: Le Peep plans to be gone from the site only for 14 to 16 months, however; it’s been promised a ground-floor retail space in the new building. T.N. Tailor Alterations also says it has a spot in the new development; no word on the Starbucks. [Real Estate Bisnow] Photo of Bally Total Fitness at 9801 Katy Fwy.: MetroNational

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Update on this...the entire Bally's complex has been completely demo'ed and there is a sign out front with a picture of two glass towers that says "630,000 square feet Class A office Coming Soon."  I don't have a picture but the towers are all glass and look different (in my opinion, much better) than the other three office buildings across the street.  One looks to be in the 10-15 floor range and the other maybe up to 20 floors. 

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I am convinced that I 10 from Katy to Memorial City is going resemble the opening scenes in the movie "Brazil", where wall to wall high rises and LED multi storied advertisements will line the freeway. I give it less than a decade. ;)

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Some shots from today. The site, including the former "Texas Heritage Park" pocket park is completely cleared. The park apparently will make a return when the buildings are complete.

 

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Air Liquide to move U.S HQ to Memorial City, from Galleria area: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/real-estate/article/Air-Liquide-to-move-U-S-headquarters-to-Memorial-5185627.php

 

 

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"Industrial gas manufacturer Air Liquide today announced plans to move its U.S. headquarters from the Galleria area to Memorial City, where it will occupy space in two buildings to support its growing work force in an amenity-rich part of Houston.

The new development, to be called Air Liquide Center, will include a 20-story tower with 452,000 square feet and a smaller, adjacent building with 145,000 square feet. They will be located at 9811 and 9807 Katy Freeway, just south of Interstate 10 between Gessner and Bunker Hill.

The company, part of a global corporation based in Paris, has some 1,500 employees in the greater Houston area. About 1,000 work in the corporate headquarters.

Air Liquide's administrative and industrial operations will occupy the upper six floors of the 20-story tower in addition to the first-floor lobby and office space. Its engineering and construction operations will occupy two floors of the second building, as well as having a lobby presence. In total, the company will lease about 222,000 square feet of space. It has options to expand in the future.

The company said its lease in at 2700 Post Oak Blvd. in the Galleria area is expiring soon and it needed room to grow and wanted a more modern space.

The new offices will be "engaging and collaborative," with places for formal and informal meetings, the company said.

"We've been looking for new, expanded space giving us a world-class work environment to accommodate our growing work force," said Michael Graff, chairman and CEO of American Air Liquide Holdings Inc. and Air Liquide senior vice president for the Americas.

Designed by Morris Architects and Gensler, the buildings will be completed by the end of 2015. Gensler will design the interiors in both buildings.

They are being developed on a site that formerly housed a Bally health club, Starbucks and Le Peep restaurant, the latter two of which will move into the first floor of the shorter building when it opens, said Randy Nerren, executive vice president of MetroNational Corp., which is developing the buildings and owns much of the Memorial City area. Additional retailers will occupy the first-floor space as well."

 

 

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Yay. More blue boxes.

 

I agree, not exciting.  But ... still better than the embarrassingly weird stuff MetroNational was putting up before.  Apparently, they decided ratchet things down a notch after locating the Justice League's secret superhero HQ on top of the MemorialHermann Tower.

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These are suburban office buildings. Many of you need to start lowering your expectations.

Exactly. Look at all the suburban office buildings from the 80s. Rarely any of them have anything special about them.

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Oh geez guys and gals, it's an office next to a freeway, next to a mall! What do you expect? It's a cute little office project.

 

In the future when other businesses besides Energy companies flock here, then we might see some major new buildings Downtown and in Uptown. Until then, we can thank our lucky stars Chevron is still Downtown, Shell (currently), Total, Dynegy, Hess, BG Group, Reliant, Centerpoint, and a few others. They are the exception, not the rule.

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http://www.us.airliquide.com/en/air-liquide-to-relocate-american-corporate-headquarters.html

 

Air Liquide to relocate American corporate headquarters to Memorial City in Houston
01/30/2014
Air Liquide today announced plans to move its American corporate headquarters from the Houston Galleria area to the Air Liquide Center in Memorial City in Houston, scheduled to break ground this month.
9811%20air%20liquide%20center90263495062Houston is zone headquarters for Air Liquide’s U.S. and American operations and one of three global hubs for Air Liquide Group. 
The move will provide Air Liquide with expanded space and a world-class work environment to accommodate the company’s growing workforce and robust business plans.
The Air Liquide Center will consist of a 20-story, 452,000 square-foot tower and an adjacent 145,000 square foot building, located at 9811 and 9807 Katy Freeway. Both Class A office buildings are LEED Silver pre-certified and will connect to a network of skywalks providing access to Memorial City Mall and other neighboring amenities within Memorial City.
Air Liquide’s administrative and industrial operations will initially occupy the upper six floors of the 20-story tower in addition to the first floor lobby and office space, totaling 155,000 square feet, with options to expand floor space. Its Engineering & Construction operations will occupy two floors of the second building, totaling 67,000 square feet.  Morris Architects is the architect of record for the Tower building. Gensler is the architect for the second building and will design Air Liquide’s interiors in both buildings.
“This move marks an exciting new chapter in Air Liquide’s history as our business continues to rapidly grow and evolve,” said Michael Graff, Chairman & CEO, American Air Liquide Holdings, Inc. and Air Liquide Senior Vice President for the Americas. “We are investing in our future, ensuring the right environment, space and resources to support our talented workforce and continue to enable the highest level of innovation and service for our customers.”
“With the announcement of Air Liquide, four major publicly traded companies have made the decision to relocate to Memorial City in the last 24 months, filling 750,000 total square-feet of office space,” said Randy Nerren, Executive Vice President at MetroNational. “We are delighted that Air Liquide has joined the growing roster of international companies that realize all that Memorial City has to offer.”
Doug Elliott and Kevin Kushner of CBRE represented Air Liquide in the transaction.
Groundbreakings for both new buildings are slated for January 2014 with completion of the entire project projected for November 2015.

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I'm sure Air Liquide would love to hear ideas on how to spend shareholder money on some artistic flair for their buildings.

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i wonder why they decided to go with two different architects for the two separate buildings. i like the Gensler building better, but hate the look of their logo plastered on the side of the building. why does it have to be on a white rectangle like that? i assume these buildings will have LEDs on the roof to go with the rest of Memorial City..?

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I'm sure Air Liquide would love to hear ideas on how to spend shareholder money on some artistic flair for their buildings.

The buildings are actually being developed by Metro National, a developer in the business of building buildings than can attract top-dollar rents. So making the buildings attractive is an easy part of the equation. Of course they also have to be efficient, in good location and so on, but aesthetics are important, ask Hines.

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The buildings are actually being developed by Metro National, a developer in the business of building buildings than can attract top-dollar rents. So making the buildings attractive is an easy part of the equation. Of course they also have to be efficient, in good location and so on, but aesthetics are important, ask Hines.

 

 

The tenants are ultimately paying the bills.

 

In the office moves I've been involved in the attractiveness of the building never came into the equation. People care more about ease of access, where they can get to for lunch, quantity of parking and building amenities. This is a company involved in a low profile part of the energy industry, flashy architecture is not something they are going to be interested in.

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Thanks for the photo! I had been wondering how this one was coming along. Will have to drive by the site when I am back in town this weekend.

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Not sure if you can tell from that photo, but there are actually four tower cranes up at this site now. Combined with Phillips 66 and the other construction sites, there are at least 19 cranes up in the Energy Corridor (including I-10 and BW8 south of I-10). 

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Not sure if you can tell from that photo, but there are actually four tower cranes up at this site now. Combined with Phillips 66 and the other construction sites, there are at least 19 cranes up in the Energy Corridor (including I-10 and BW8 south of I-10). 

 

Make that 20. Saw another new one today. Not sure what it's for, as I haven't seen a thread about it on here, but it looks like it's a site on the corner of Town & Country Blvd and Attingham Drive, behind Barcelona Sporting Goods and next to Mac Haik Ford. Any ideas what this is? My first thought was the last City Centre building, but it's too far east for that.

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Make that 20. Saw another new one today. Not sure what it's for, as I haven't seen a thread about it on here, but it looks like it's a site on the corner of Town & Country Blvd and Attingham Drive, behind Barcelona Sporting Goods and next to Mac Haik Ford. Any ideas what this is? My first thought was the last City Centre building, but it's too far east for that.

 

Looks like an apartment complex maybe?  I believe Morgan group is constructing that one.  It also looks like they took down part of the strip center in front of that project.  There was an older 60s or 70s style office building they scraped on that site a few months back. 

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Wow, I have no clue why I never thought to take it from the parking garage. Excellent pics... tons of cranes!

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Make that 20. Saw another new one today. Not sure what it's for, as I haven't seen a thread about it on here, but it looks like it's a site on the corner of Town & Country Blvd and Attingham Drive, behind Barcelona Sporting Goods and next to Mac Haik Ford. Any ideas what this is? My first thought was the last City Centre building, but it's too far east for that.

Talked to the foreman at lunch and he confirmed this site will be an eight story midrise apartment complex. Morgan Group is the contractor.

Edited by Gary
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On 4/25/2014 at 8:44 AM, jt16 said:

Looks like an apartment complex maybe?  I believe Morgan group is constructing that one.  It also looks like they took down part of the strip center in front of that project.  There was an older 60s or 70s style office building they scraped on that site a few months back. 

 

Not sure if this is thread-worthy, but here's our answer: Pearl Residences at CityCentre.

 

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/columnists/sarnoff/article/Locally-based-apartment-developer-is-going-big-5466736.php

 

 

 

Edit: Actually this should probably go in the CityCentre thread, if one of the mods can move it.

Edited by asubrt
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One big MEHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

 

at least this didn't autocorrect to MOOOOOOOOOOOO.

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I know it's not the best picture, but I really got a kick out of seeing that the cranes are lit up just like the building perimeters. 

post-12929-0-41039300-1403184508_thumb.p

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Hmmm...a lot of cranage for a lowrise. Interesting. I guess I still don't get the crane ratio to the final product ratio.

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Hmmm...a lot of cranage for a lowrise. Interesting. I guess I still don't get the crane ratio to the final product ratio.

 

Not sure how you can call a 20-story tower a lowrise.

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Hmmm...a lot of cranage for a lowrise. Interesting. I guess I still don't get the crane ratio to the final product ratio.

Footprint.
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