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Posts published in September 2015

Panel discusses Future of Greenspoint

GREENSPOINT – The Greenspoint District hosted a forum of commercial real estate developers last Tuesday morning, discussing the “Future of Greenspoint.” The event was part of a regular series by Biwnow staged both locally and nationally on commercial real estate interests.

The event was held at the Hilton Greenspoint Hotel. Introductory remarks were made by Greg Simpson, Greenspoint District president, Lance Lyttle, COO of the Houston Airport System, and Reggie Gray, president of the Houston Intercontinental Chamber.

The forum discussed both positive and negative aspects of commercial development in the Greenspoint area, especially against the background of several major tenants having relocated outside the district, leaving large amounts of office space available in existing buildings. Moderator Michelle Wogan said that as much as three million square feet of space will be vacant, as ExxonMobil moves to its new campus, and others such as Noble Energy leave.

The panel discussed various scanarios for trying to rent this much space in the near future. Like the proverbial glass that is half full, half empty, there were several viewpoints. In general, they agreed that it was difficult to lease this much space, but thought that Greenspoint had many strengths that offered opportunities to smart tenants and realtors. These included lower rental rates than competitors, location in the city and near highways and the airport, and the opportunity to configure space to suit, including many buildings that could be purchased rather than leased.

Negative factors that many agreed upon were a moribund shopping mall, lack of retail diversity, lack of housing options, and a latent reputation for high crime, even though statistics on crime are as good or better than most areas in Houston.

Bart Baker of Greenspoint District pointed out that they have invested several million dollars in new landscaping, water tails, enhanced security, and other amenities.

Realtor Lucian Bukowski of CBRE felt that the loss of major tenants Exxon, Noble Energy, Southwestern Energy, and others was very difficult to overcome. Although location was a positive factor, nevertheless weak surroundings of residential units, and the lack of retail amenities make it difficult to lease.

William Peeples of KDC and several others said that a major change, or “catastrophic” event was needed to bring the area into desirable conditions. This could be the redevelopment of the mall, or housing. A move into the area from a major corporate tenant would also be a step in the right direction, and more likely from a national firm.

In contrast to these negative comments, Chip Colville said that Greenspoint has been one of his busiest and best locations recently, and he expects that to continue. He also said that security at Greenspoint is good, and perception of this is not reality. Michelle Wogan of Transwestern said her company also has been busy in Greenspoint, leasing 260,000 feet in the last year.

The panel agreed on three initiatives that would benefit the Greenspoint District: One, Redevelop the Mall. This would probably require a sale by the multiple owners, and a firm such as KDC to develop a new design of mixed use tenants; Two, Attract a Major Corporate User. Peeples and Bukowski look for a large out-of-state company to be drawn to Texas’ business-friendly environment, and the airport. Another possibility is for United Airlines to relocate from downtown, they said; Three, Develop more night-life, sports facilities, variety of dining exeriences, and other amenities to attract and hold people.

Aldine “Legends Night” honors coach Bill Smith & 1990 team

On Saturday night, Sept. 12, Aldine High School held a “Legends Night” to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the rich tradition of Aldine High School football.

Presentations were made to former Aldine Coach Bill Smith, and the Aldine football team by Congressman Gene Green, and the Aldine Athletic Department’s Richard Delgado, and present Aldine Coach James Kowalewski.

Twenty-five years ago, Bill Smith led the Aldine Mustangs to the Class 5A state title with a 27-10 victory over Arlington Lamar.

The state championship game capped a 15-0 season for Smith’s Mustangs and ESPN also named them the No. 1 high school team in the country after they rolled through their 1990 schedule.

Mustangs of every generation (former administrators, faculty, staff, students and fans) attended the celebration, which began at 4 p.m. with a tailgate in the West Parking Lot of Thorne Stadium, prior to the 6 p.m. kickoff of the Mustang’s game against Conroe High School.

Aldine ISD Director of Athletics Richard Delgado planned special festivities for Aldine High alums during the game as well as a special recognition at halftime.

New TX Laws in effect September 1, 2015

September 1st is a very important day, as it is the date many laws passed during the 84th Legislative Session go into effect. Below you will find a summary of a few of these laws. Unless otherwise noted, each new law goes into effect today, September 1, 2015.

Please note that the following is not a comprehensive list of all new laws passed by the Texas Legislature. For information regarding all new laws, please click on the following link: or contact our office.

Protecting Our Retirees

The state will increase its contributions to the Employee Retirement System (ERS), putting the fund closer to full financial health and strengthening retiree benefits.

Cracking Down On Human Trafficking

Human traffickers will face increased criminal and civil penalties; these include stricter felony counts and seizure of traffickers’ financial assets hidden behind shell corporations. Additional help and resources for trafficking victims will also be established.

Employer Requirements for Working Mothers

All public employers in Texas, such as school districts and state agencies, will now be required to pro vide accommodations for employees that need to pump breast milk at work. This will help retain talented employees by making workplaces more mother-friendly.

Faster Access to 911

Multiline telephone systems — like the ones in hotels and offices — where you would normally have to dial another number first to get an outside line, will now be required to have direct 911 dialing services.

Controlling Prescription Medicine Costs

The state will begin a pilot program allowing people to donate unused prescription medicine. This will help reduce waste while also making affordable stocks of prescription drugs available to those in need.

Supporting Our Veterans

The Texas Veterans Commission will now have a permanent program to study systemic economic and health challenges faced by female veterans, and help women veterans transition into the civilian work force.

Making College Credits Transfers Easier

The state will now regularly review course tracks that are supposed to be transferable between community colleges and four-year public universities. This will make it easier to transfer institutions and help reduce expensive, redundant course-taking.

Preventing and Solving Crimes

The state’s DNA database will now be expanded to include individuals convicted of certain assaultive and sexual offenses, such as Enticement of a Child. This will help prevent future crimes, exonerate innocent persons, and bring perpetrators to justice.

Making Grand Juries Fairer

The state has abolished the “key man” system of jury selection for grand juries. Grand juries must now be selected through a more random, objective jury selection process.

Faster Benefits for Retired Teachers

The payment date of annuity checks in the Teacher Retirement System has been changed to the first working day of each month, allowing for quicker payment of benefits to retirees.

Decriminalizing Truancy

School districts will now be required to develop truancy prevention plans, such as mentorship and counseling programs, in lieu of only using criminal punishment against truant children.

Improving Cancer Prevention

Healthcare providers will now be required to give coverage for annual ovarian cancer screenings to all adult female policy-holders. This will help identify cancer in its early stages, and avoid dangerous medical complications.

Medical Cannabis Oil Legalized

The use of low-THC cannabis oil by patients suffering from epilepsy will now be allowed, provided two doctors to sign off on a prescription, and if two other forms of traditional medicine have failed to work.

Revenge Porn Outlawed

“Revenge porn” (distributing intimate photos of a significant other online with the intent to cause harm) will now be criminalized. The practice will be punishable as a Class A Misdemeanor.

Warrants Now Required for Body Searches

Police will now be required to obtain a warrant before conducting body cavity searches during traffic stops. This will help preserve due process and avoid unnecessary invasive searches during nonviolent encounters.

PLEASE NOTE: The state’s new regulations allowing for the open carry of handguns by concealed-handgun license (CHL) holders will not go into effect until January 1, 2016.

The state’s new law permitting the concealed-carry of handguns by CHL-holders on the campuses of four-year colleges and universities will not go into effect until August 1, 2016.

Legislative Update Text courtesy of State Representative Ana Hernandez, District 141.

Davis HS student killed in crash on Beltway 8

HOUSTTON – An Aldine ISD student died in a wreck last Tuesday night.

The accident happened at Beltway 8 Feeder at Antoine around 8:15 p.m., according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies said a 17-year-old driver was heading westbound in a pick up truck when he allegedly ran a red light and crashed into a Chevy Tahoe where Davis HS student, Kevin Scott, was riding with his family. The Chevy Tahoe then struck two other cars.

The 15-year-old student Kevin Scott died at the scene. His 40-year-old mother was taken to the hospital where she later died. His father and a brother were taken to the hospital in stable condition.

According to Aldine ISD, the Scott and his family had recently moved back from Maryland.

Aldine ISD released the following statement:

“Wednesday morning, the district was notified of the death of one of our Davis High School students who was involved in an accident on Tuesday evening.

Our community mourns his passing and his mother’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with their family and loved ones.

Counselors will be available to students and staff to assist them during this difficult time.”

Scott was on the school’s JV Team and he was honored last Thursday night with a moment of silence before the varsity game against Pasadena Memorial at Thorne Stadium.

The crash is under investigation and no charges have been filled as of last Wednesday.

$1 Million Grant approved for Squatty Lyons Park improvements

HOUSTON – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department awarded a $1 million Local Parks Urban Outdoor Grant to the Houston Parks and Recreation Department to renovate and further develop Squatty Lyons Park. As one of 3 community parks in the Greater Houston area and 25 across the state to receive this competitive grant funding, the City of Houston will match the grant with $1 million of its own funds for this improvement project.

“I am pleased and grateful for the City of Houston’s efforts and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s decision to invest in our Northside community.” said State Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston). “I am even happier for the kids and the volunteer parents of the North Houston American Little League who never stopped hustling and advocating for this neighborhood.”

The proposed improvements to Squatty Lyons Park were identified as needs in both the Houston Parks and Recreation Department’s updated Parks Master Plan and in Capital Improvement Project meetings hosted by District Council Member Ed Gonzales (District H) regarding neighborhood needs. State Representative Walle had also advocated vigorously for these improvements in communications with city officials and in support of this grant application.

“This funding is a shot in the arm in efforts to better Northside parks,” said U.S. Congressman Gene Green (D- Houston). “Congratulations to Rep. Walle and the City for working on getting this funding.”

“I have worked throughout my time in public service to fix and update this park where I grew up playing baseball,” said Rep. Walle. “These planned improvements will make Squatty Lyons Park a true nexus of community activity that our residents can enjoy and take pride in.”

The Squatty Lyons Park Improvement Project scope of work will include:

The renovation of all ball fields to enhance future little league play with the addition of new fences, backstops and dugouts, leveling, grading, repairing and sodding all fields, repairing/replacing lighting, and installing new irrigation systems

The renovation of the existing softball field to make it accessible to children with disabilities

The refurbishment of the two parking areas to include over 100 additional parking spaces

The expansion of the playground area will be expanded and refurbishment with new play elements

The development of a new concession with restrooms

The development of a loop walking trail and an exercise station

Design and construction services, demolition of concrete areas, site preparation, grading of new areas

Landscaping with native plantings.