ExxonMobil announced today its decision to relocate multiple Houston locations, including about 3,000 employees from downtown, to a new campus currently being developed in north Houston. Although we do not want to see them go, their consolidation is tremendously significant for the Houston region.
ExxonMobil’s exit will be one of the largest since Amoco (now BP) moved to the city’s west side 29 years ago, but we are fortunate that the city’s center has always bounced back from these challenges, and downtown remains the largest submarket in the region retaining approximately 22 percent of the region’s office space. Mergers and relocations are a part of doing business worldwide; and downtown Houston has had more than 50 relocations to downtown since the mid-1990s. It was difficult when Enron collapsed, but today, the two buildings they occupied are now 100 percent occupied by Chevron who has more than 6,000 employees in downtown, making them our third largest employer. After much speculation, in 2010, KBR announced that they were not going to relocate from downtown but instead were renewing their long-term lease and adding additional space totaling 1.2 million square feet.
With more than 140,000 downtown workers, our focus is not only a healthy commercial real estate market, but a mixed-use, densely populated urban community with restaurants, cultural and sports attractions, entertainment and theater venues and residential properties that attract highly-diversified workers in both the short and long run.