Houston Industrial Real Estate Developer Makes it Look EasyPosted
Occasionally a true visionary comes along in every industry and the Houston industrial real estate industry is no exception. In the same manner as Trammell Crow and Gerald Hines, Robert Clay of Clay Development in Houston is the current example. Michael Hill is fortunate to have known Robert and Al Clay since they began Clay Development and have enjoyed a relationship with them dealing with lease and purchase/sale projects of buildings as well as land sites. Back in the “bad days” of the 1980s and the early 1990s when oil and gas prices plunged to record lows, Houston’s industrial real estate development business collapsed, claiming most of the developers of industrial, office and retail properties, the large banks and most of the real estate brokers. The Houston industrial real estate market was over-built in 1981 and new industrial warehouse and manufacturing construction stopped, only to begin again in about 1992-1993 time period, being essentially non-existent for about 12 years. Robert Clay graduated from Texas A&M in 1989, worked in construction and real estate leasing until Clay Development Co. was started by Robert Clay and his father, Al Clay in 1998. Al Clay had been a CPA in public accounting, in mortgage brokerage and in construction since his graduation from Texas A&M in 1965. The early focus by Clay Development was to provide “full service” development expertise (in-house architectural, structural, civil engineering, construction and property management) to their Clients. Houston had never been a “build-to-suit” market because from the emergence of the industrial leasing market in the early 1960s, there has always been plenty of multi-tenant industrial buildings to satisfy the tenant demand and typically industrial leasing space in a multi-tenant building is less costly (and less trouble) than leasing in a freestanding building built specifically to the Tenant’s specifications. Robert Clay changed all that. From the beginning, Clay Development focused on high quality construction, typically masonry exterior, where before, industrial freestanding buildings and particularly crane served manufacturing buildings were metallic construction. Clay Construction has done mostly design/build projects where the eventual occupant of the building will own, but also has done build-to-suit project for lease to a particular occupant and speculative development of both freestanding and multi-tenant buildings where there are no up-front tenants in place prior to construction. Clay’s expertise and dedication to quality/efficient construction, his careful attention to detail enhancing his relationship with the eventual occupant of his buildings and his willingness to take risk in pioneering new market locations has resulted in completion of over 175 buildings totaling over 10 million square feet, many projects of which are repeat business with the occupying company. The tenant/occupant list of Clay’s buildings looks like the fortune 100 list and his high quality developed industrial parks on previously green field sites are extremely attractive to industrial companies. Robert and Al Clay have teamed to pioneer the re-emergence of the real estate development business rising out of the ashes in Houston with incredible timing. Their dedication to quality construction, to close relationships with their supporting real estate brokers and business owners and their ability to envision and take advantage of new Houston industrial real estate opportunities has proven that educated talent combined with hard work and amazing ability to look into the future will still succeed today.
Michael Hill Properties offers more than 40 years of experience in brokering commercial industrial properties, such as distribution warehousing and manufacturing ,for sale and lease in the Greater Houston Area as well as outside of Houston. For more information on Michael Hill Properties, mhprop.com or call (713) 960-6060.