Finding Business Nirvana in CITYCENTRE — Why Amazon, Marathon and Other Major Companies are Embracing This Tech Land

When You Need to be Where Your Employees Want to Be

Clifford Pugh

January 2022

Just about every company is looking for Business Nirvana. Especially these days when finding and keeping talented employees is more critical — and difficult — than ever. It is all about finding that sweet spot of a location that offers a state-of-the-art work space with surrounding amenities that make life easier for employees — particularly in a business world forever changed by COVID.

When Pin Oak Corpus Christi CEO Corey Leonard and the executive team began looking for a new headquarters for the energy infrastructure company involved in the transportation, storage, and distribution of crude oil, refined products and natural gas liquids, they looked for a location that would offer the right balance between the work/life experience.

They believe they found business nirvana at CITYCENTRE 2, where they recently moved into new office space. The six-story, 150,00 square foot, architecturally distinctive office building offers tenants a true Class-A office space and a host of amenities. Including the fine dining and upscale shopping right outside its front doors in the landmark CITYCENTRE mixed-use development. It also is no small perk to be a mere three-minute walk away from topnotch conference facilities.

“Once our employees are on site at the complex at CITYCENTRE, they really don’t have any need to get back in their car,” Leonard says.

“They have access to outdoor spaces if they want a break from the office. They have good retail options. They’ve got good restaurants and coffee shops. They’ve got a nice fitness location."

“Compared to many areas that we looked at, it was just more conducive to what we thought would be special for our employees.”

Being in CITYCENTRE is the type of perk that draws talent and makes people want to return to the office.

If you’re going to get people back in the office after COVID-19, those offices had better be located in a place where workers want to be. Midway’s CITYCENTRE certainly qualifies. It is one of the centers of the city, a West Houston focal point full of restaurants with patios, open-air green spaces and its signature Plaza lawn where kids frolic, couples relax and office workers enjoy lunch.

There is a reason CITYCENTRE’s office occupancy rates remain in the mid-90 percent, while not far away, some Energy Corridor offices struggle with vacancy rates of up to 30 percent in this COVID-19 altered world.

When evaluating different locations around Houston, “the one thing that jumped out about this location was the ability to walk outside the office,” Leonard says. “It means a lot to have this green space and water features and outdoor spaces for people who have been off (from the office) for a 24-month period, where at the lowest point you’re told to stay indoors with limited exposure (to other people).

“It’s our job to listen to our employees and put their priorities first.”

Since Pin Oak is involved in the movement and transportation of energy, which happens 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, work schedules and times vary and employees have to be flexible. So it’s important to have nearby amenities for employees who work later hours. Which is where CITYCENTRE provides a major difference. Again.

This mixed-use center boasts nearly 30 different restaurants, ranging from well-known eateries like RA Sushi Bar and Seasons 52 to brand new spots like sushi palace ReikiNa and Daily Gather, which is opening soon.

“For individuals who are asked to work until 7, 8 or 9 pm, to have restaurants that are walkable at that period of time is really important,” Leonard says. “It makes the work/life balance more acceptable.”

Pin Oak Corpus Christi is not the only company coming to this conclusion. Other new — or expanding — office tenants at CITYCENTRE include Amazon, Marathon Oil, Infosys and Jacobs. Marathon Oil chose CITYCENTRE for the location of its shiny new showcase headquarters. Amazon recently revealed plans to expand its CITYCENTRE presence with the goal of making it something of a new tech center in Texas. Having opened its CITYCENTRE offices in 2018, the tech giant is now adding 150 more employees, adding to the 300 already officing in the mixed-use development.

“Thanks to Houston’s incredible talent pipeline, we’re able to bring 150 new jobs to the city, on top of the more than 300 technology and corporate roles we’ve already created,” Scott Bends, site lead for Amazon’s Houston Tech Hub, says in a release. “We’re excited to continue working with the community and local leaders as we invest in Houston, bringing more jobs and new economic opportunities to the area.”

Tech Land

Amazon already leases a 25,385-square-foot floor in the CITYCENTRE 5 office tower for its web services unit. Now, it’s signed a new entire floor lease in the building to help support the AWS team.

Jacobs — a Dallas-headquartered global professional services firm providing solutions geared around creating a more connected, sustainable world with everything from intelligence to infrastructure, cybersecurity to space exploration — is also leasing an entire floor in the CITYCENTRE 2 building.

In many ways, CITYCENTRE is almost quietly transforming into one of the city’s most robust and energized tech epicenters.

Amazon is helping turn CITYCENTRE into one of Houston's most important tech hubs.
“We are thrilled that CITYCENTRE is emerging as an innovation hub for new office tenants,”

“We are thrilled that CITYCENTRE is emerging as an innovation hub for new office tenants,” says Robert Williamson, Senior Vice President of Investment Management for Midway.

“These companies are pioneers of technology and energy, and it is humbling to be able to offer these top-of-the-line spaces for Houstonians in the process.”

It is all about an environment that is friendly and healthy for people. Midway’s drive to achieve the latest healthy office certifications for its projects — new standards that largely focus on people such as WELL and Fitwel certification — gives buildings like the Munoz + Albin-designed CITYCENTRE 6 another edge. Midway’s GreenStreet downtown mixed-use center recently achieved a Fitwel one star rating, a coveted designation centered around things such as walkability, green space and access to healthy food. Additionally, CITYCENTRE 5 recently received the Fitwel Viral Response certification for its high standards to safeguard occupant health and mitigate viral transmission.

After all, business nirvana does not just happen. You have to set out to build and shape it with purpose.