REDNews February 2012 : Page 38

COMMERCIAL BUZZ Straight From the Experts: SOUTHEAST TEX AS Ray Hankamer Discusses Commercial Real Estate Former Mayoral Candidate/Architect Peter Brown Founds ‘Better Houston’ Organization Addressing the formation meeting of Better Houston, Dr. Michael Emerson, a sociologist and Co-Director of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, made the following points about Houston: • According to Kearney Global Index, Houston is the 38th ‘most infl uential city in the world’ • In the category of ‘knowledge production,” as rated by Urban Studies, Houston is #16 in the world • Houston ranks high in Forbes Magazine’s list of opportunity cities • Houston has more Fortune 500 headquarters and more consulates than any US city except Manhattan • Only 25 nations have a higher GDP than the city of Houston • Houston has more fast growing companies than any state except California • Houston has the top metro growth rate in the country • Houston is the most broadly diverse city in the nation according to the Diversity Index, although Pearland and Missouri City are nudging up toward fi rst place in this category Andy Icken, Houston’s Deputy Director of Public Works, pointed out that gentrifi cation (growing density/displacement of low income housing) is proceeding inside the loop with about forty multi-family housing projects in various stages of development/construction. Several City Council members were in attendance at the meeting, which was held at Lovett Homes’ offi ces just off Washington Ave, and hosted by Lovett owner and Rice grad Frank Liu. Better Houston is seeking to defi ne its role in addressing issues confronting our sprawling metropolis. Th ese issues include: drainage, schools, decaying infrastructure, tacky overhead power lines and aesthetically disturbing billboards and other signage, sustaining the character of various historic neighborhoods such as the Wards, and many other issues. Th e organization’s vision of a sustainable Houston includes safe livable neighborhoods; walkable mixed-use urban districts; transit-oriented higher density centers with vibrant public places, supported by a world-class multi-modal transit system. Th is can be achieved through proactive civic involvement and collaboration, by outcomes-driven planning and urban design, and the implementation of practical and innovative solutions. The secrets of Exxon Mobil’s new NorthHouston “campus” are fi nally revealed A video rendering of Exxon Mobil’s new mysterious massive offi ce campus has come out, shedding light on a project that’s been shrouded in secrecy. Th e Houston Business Journal discovered and posted the video. To view the full video, go to Planned for a 385-acre wooded site on company-owned land at the intersection of I-45 and the Hardy Toll Road, the complex is set to consolidate the oil company’s many Houston offi ces into one central location. Visitors will approach the new site through a bold glass structure called the Energy Center, which will house corporate training areas and conference rooms. Th e campus beyond will integrate low-rise administrative buildings with extensive laboratory and research space. “One of the things when we started the project that really piqued our interest about this project was this notion of a campus,” Exxon Mobil project executive Mike Brown says in the video. “How do we create an urban vibe? How do we create some energy in the campus?” Brown explains the company’s eff ort to create a pedestrian-friendly environment where people “come across each other by foot,” yet never have to walk more than seven minutes from building to building. Th e complex features “lifestyle-friendly” facilities such as a child care center and a wellness center as well as on-site dining options. “We’re creating a community that enables us to enjoy our work environment and be more productive at the same time.” 38 FEBRUARY 2012

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