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July 8, 2013

Chevron to Build 1.7 MSF Houston High-Rise

By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

Chevron Houston

With no end in sight to its growing staff, Chevron U.S.A. Inc. will add more than a little bit of elbowroom to its downtown Houston offices through the addition of a 1.7 million-square-foot tower. The 50-story skyscraper will join two neighboring Chevron buildings to create a company campus in the central business district of the Lone Star State’s largest city.

Chevron isn’t bragging about numbers in terms of the building’s development cost, but it’s no secret that the company will have a bit of a helping hand in bringing the project to fruition, as the State has committed to providing Chevron with $12 million through the Texas Enterprise Fund.

The sizeable state-of-the-art structure, which will carry the address of 1600 Louisiana St., could serve as a major corporation’s headquarters, but Chevron’s home base will remain in California. . Houston, however, commonly considered the energy capital of the world, is a key location for the company. And the sprawling HOK-designed addition will be about more than extra square footage.

“The new building and expanded urban campus will provide a first-rate work environment for our employees and help us remain the employer of choice,” Bereket Haregot, president of Chevron’s Business and Real Estate Services division, said in a prepared statement.

With new office space, the ground will be paved for Chevron’s creation of more than 1,700 jobs in the professional, technical and administrative personnel areas. The remainder of the energy concern’s downtown Houston office-tower trifecta consists of the 1.3 million- and 1.2 million-square-foot buildings at 1500 Louisiana and 1400 Smith, the latter of which Chevron acquired from Brookfield Office Properties for $340 million in 2011.

Chevron expects to make the final investment decision for 1600 Louisiana in the second quarter of 2014, in time for occupancy to begin in the fourth quarter of 2016.

For any company currently in need of a huge home in Houston, building anew or snagging a spec property is done more out of necessity than desire, as hefty blocks of premier office accommodations in the city have become harder and harder to find. As noted in a second quarter report by commercial real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle, “High demand for office space has sparked the need for new developments and build-to-suits for businesses looking to expand.”

A bevy of projects are underway, including Transwestern’s 660,000-square-foot Westgate development, which is already pre-leased to the tune of 90 percent. Andarko Petroleum Corp. topped out a 550,000-square-foot tower at its campus in The Woodlands submarket in June and during the first quarter, per a JLL report, Bechtel Corp. was among the major companies on the hunt for land or build-to-suits.

For Chevron, taking building into its own hands is not presently limited to Houston. In June, news emerged that the company had selected Swinerton Builders Texas to construct its 340,000-square-foot, $100 million Chevron Midland Campus in Midland, Texas.