Midway across the 1000km of West Texas plains between El Paso & Dallas, a company that builds to house the energy industry has promoted a 53-storey tower for the city of Midland.
The tallest building in the city of 111,000 now is 25 storeys and, for a city that size, a single tower that would treble the taxable value of Midland’s downtown properties sounds way over the top.
Down in New Zealand’s slightly larger Dunedin, planning commissioners took that view in June when they rejected an application for a 27-storey hotel & apartment building, partly because the applicant didn’t explain well enough how the building would fit into a predominantly lowrise city.
Midland got past that sort of barrier way back in 1927, during another oil boom, when lawyer, oilman & former Montana senator TS Hogan built the Petroleum Building – a 12-storey building that dominated the town but became known as Hogan’s Folly just after it opened in 1929, as the sharemarket crashed, the price of a barrel of oil tumbled to US15c and the tower’s office floors stayed empty.
The Petroleum Building still stands, but there’s some opposition to knocking over Midland’s 1970s-style former county courthouse for the 92,000m² building Energy Tower, which would be the sixth-tallest building in Texas. However, the local council happens to have bought, for $US2.2 million, the 20,400m² on 2 blocks the tower, a convention centre and a park would occupy, so you sense that any opposition might be overcome.
And there is a difference about this proposal by Energy Related Properties LLC – of its 53 storeys above ground, only the top 28 floors, or 52,040m² would contain office space, to be built at a time when the cbd’s office vacancy is down at 2%. Beneath the offices, 12 floors would have 132 apartments on them and a hotel would occupy 12 floors. The building would have an underground retail level & 5 floors of basement parking.
The US Chamber of Commerce was upbeat about the proposal for Midland, which is at the centre of soaring oil & natural gas production in West Texas resulting from fracking: “The results are strong job growth and a booming economy,” the chamber’s FreeEnterprise.com proclaimed last week under the heading, Thanks to shale energy, a 58-storey skyscraper is planned.
Energy Related Properties already owns about 100,000m² of office space in Midland. The company declares as its mission, to “invest in properties where energy plays a significant role in the economic viability of each community” and “focus on high-growth supply-constrained markets that possess significant barriers to entry, attractive tenant bases and where a significant price discrepancy exists between the underlying value of the real estate and the commodity supporting that value”.
Its financial partner is Wexford Capital LP, which manages $US4.5 billion of hedge & private equity funds from headquarters in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Links: US Chamber of Commerce’s Free Enterprise, Thanks to shale energy, a 58-storey skyscraper is planned for Midland Texas
Fuel Fix, Energy Tower would be 6th tallest building in Texas, developer says
Wikipedia, Energy Tower
My West Texas, Architect, developers reveal site design for Energy Tower
Wall St Journal, Building on the boom
Attribution: Company release.