Sturdy Houston Sees its Market Wobble
August 25, 2010
By: Anton Trioanovski

Continental Center I, an iconic skyscraper in downtown Houston, is home to giants in the aviation and energy industries that kept Texas's biggest city humming through the downturn. But by the end of next year, the building could be emptier.

The 51-story tower's namesake, Continental Airlines Inc., is merging with United Airlines parent UAL Corp., and some expect it to move office jobs to Chicago. A Continental spokeswoman said the merged company will maintain a significant presence in Houston but that decisions on office-space needs haven't been made yet. ...

... "Right when you think the market is looking great long-term, here comes another curve ball from left field," says Steven Biegel, who leases Houston office space for brokerage Studley. ...

... For Houston landlords, the depth of this downturn is a far cry from the devastation of the 1980s, when a construction boom left the city with vacancy rates higher than 30%. The Wall Street Journal reported at the time that the city had more empty space than Philadelphia had occupied space. ...

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