Exxon’s Buffalo Speedway Campus Has a New Owner
JLL just sold one more former Houston Exxon Mobil Corp. site, the Houston Business Journalreports. After over two years on the market, Transwestern Development Co. and Spear Street Capital purchased Exxon’s Upstream Research facilities at 3120 Buffalo Speedway. The office campus occupies 16.8 acres next to the River Oaks residential area. According to the original marketing materials, the site includes a six-story, 450,000-square-foot office building, 13 auxiliary buildings, a 100,000-square-foot training center and a large parking structure.
Buffalo Speedway Campus main building (via JLL)
In August 2014, JLL’s Rudy Hubbard said that this property was “one of the largest and most desirable in-fill tracts remaining in all of Houston.” Hubbard added that the site was ideal for a mixed-use redevelopment that could include office, retail, residential and hospitality components. It is not yet clear what Transwestern’s intentions are, but the 2016 fourth quarter report released by the company stated that “unique, mixed-use concepts are faring well all over the Houston market as residents continue to seek a live-work-play environment.” Thus, Hubbard’s vision of the Upstream Research Company headquarters redevelopment potential may not be far off.
When Giants Consolidate
In the wake of ExxonMobil’s consolidation at a 385-acre new campus in North Houston, the Greenway Plaza office property is only the latest one to be shed by the energy giant. According to HBJ, this relocation left millions of square feet vacant in the Houston office market.
Brookhollow office building (Yardi Matrix)
Back in 2014, the company tapped JLL to market two of its several Houston-area locations, the other one being ExxonMobil’s Brookhollow Campus. Standing on 24.4 acres, facilities included three office buildings totaling 500,000 square feet, a full-service cafeteria and 60,000 square feet of storage and auxiliary buildings. JLL expressed confidence in the asset’s size, improvements and location as being a great opportunity for many companies to provide employees with a unique work environment. According to RNR, the property was expected to command as much as $40 million, but due to the drop in oil prices, ended up being sold in May 2016 for $11 million.
In late 2013, Exxon closed a much better deal when it sold its Chemical Campus at 13501 Katy Fwy to Third Palm Capital for over $70 million. The buyer then leased the property back to Exxon through April 2015. Republic Square, as the Energy Corridor property is now called, was to be transformed into hotels, office buildings, multifamily and retail. Third Palm stated it never lost faith in that vision but, according to RNR, had to adapt roll-out to the changing economic environment. In mid-2016, amenities at the 35-acre site included a central lake, a 20,000-square-foot meeting and events center and a 320,000-square-foot office building with commissary kitchen.
Eight Greenspoint Plaza (Yardi Matrix)
In preparation for the supersized consolidation at its new Springwoods Village Campus, two Greenspoint/North Belt area assets had to go. Exxon sold Eight Greenspoint Plaza in June 2014 to a Stream Realty Partners and AllianceBernstein joint venture. The 198,257-square-foot Class A office building was immediately leased back to the seller. Five months later, Fuller Realty Partners bought Exxon’s 13401 North Fwy 143,410-square-foot Class A property, which was vacated by the end of the year.
800 Bell St. (Yardi Matrix)
And because “moving up North” means serious cleaning up, Exxon’s Downtown Houston asset was no exception.
In mid-2013, San Francisco-based Shorenstein Properties bought the 45-story, 1.2 million-square-foot tower at 800 Bell St. The entire building was leased back to Exxon, through 2015. At the time of sale, Shorenstein announced that the property would be redeveloped upon Exxon’s departure. Last year, the developer was still waiting for a major tenant prelease to make good on that promise.
Much Ado about Something Big
Springwoods Village Campus is located on 385 acres of wooded land, near the I-45, just 25 miles north of Downtown Houston. The crown jewel of ExxonMobil’s empire houses a large portion of the company’s over 70,000 global employees. Construction began in 2011 and, by late 2015, 20 low-rise buildings totaling 3 million square feet surrounding a 3-acre common area were finished. Employees from research, chemical, exploration and production, support and other divisions now work together in an environment designed to foster collaboration and increase efficiency.
For state-of-the-art sustainability, the office buildings were designed to harvest daylight and minimize potable water use, and are meant to be 40 percent more energy efficient than a typical office building. Some of the major campus components are multiple low-rise office buildings, a meeting and training center, a laboratory, a 100,000-square-foot wellness center, a child development center for children aged six weeks through pre-kindergarten and a wide array of dining and retail amenities.
Along with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Southwestern Energy, Exxon’s relocation helped establish North Houston as a second energy corridor, according to Chron.
Exxon North Houston Campus (via Chron.com)