Falling Oil Prices Threaten Houston Building Boom
February 11, 2015

The jagged skyline of this oil-rich city is poised to be the latest victim of falling crude prices.

As the energy sector boomed in recent years, developers flocked to Houston, so much so that one-sixth of all the office space under construction in the entire U.S. is in the metropolitan area of the Texas city.

But now, the need for more offices is drying up, thanks to a drop in oil prices that has spun energy companies from an outlook of optimism and growth to anxiety and cutbacks. Oil prices have fallen by more than 50% since June.

Demand for office space is “going to basically stop,” said Walter Page, director of office research at property data firm CoStar Group Inc. “It hurts a lot more when you have a lot of construction.”...

Fewer workers, of course, means less need for office space. Employers have rushed to sublease space in recent months, with 5.2 million square feet of space on the market as of last month, up about 1 million square feet from mid-2014, according to brokerage firm Savills Studley. BP, for example, is trying to sublet 240,000 square feet of space at its campus in the Westlake neighborhood, which represents about 11% of BP’s space at the campus, according to CoStar. A BP spokesman said the company is “consolidating” its footprint...

Falling Oil Prices Threaten Houston Building Boom

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