Sugar Land sweetens office deals to rival Houston

The South Texas suburb is offering $6K per job for qualifying companies headquartered in Sugar Land

Elizabeth Huff, director of Economic Development at the City of Sugar Land (LinkedIn, Getty)
Elizabeth Huff, director of Economic Development at the City of Sugar Land (LinkedIn, Getty)

Sugar Land is pulling out all the stops to retain its big employers.

An incentive for companies to keep their headquarters in the city received unanimous approval from the Sugar Land Economic Development Corp., the Houston Business Journal reported.

A company that renews its lease within the city limits for five to 10 years and retains at least 50 primary jobs on an annual average, can receive upwards of $6,000 per job under an incentive agreement. The measure also aims to encourage developers to renovate Sugar Land’s aging structures. Thus, the program also requires a minimum of $1 million capital investment for office build-out or improvements.

Back in Houston, the commercial real estate players have been hard at work developing amenity-rich office spaces to lure big-name tenants back into long-term leases. So far, it’s been working. New York-based Brookfield Properties hasn’t even finished the renovation of its skybridge-fitted Houston Center, but the 4.2 million square-foot mixed-use development already has two tenants signed to long-term leases.

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“There are new office buildings in areas like the Energy Corridor and Westchase, and they are offering significant (concessions) to our businesses,” said Elizabeth Huff, Sugar Land’s director of economic development. “And so, our businesses are potentially being asked to move to a different location, and the cost savings are so significant that they are considering it.”

Huff told the HBJ that her department has been reaching out to local companies to promote the program. While she couldn’t estimate how much the program will end up costing, she said the city has budgeted $1.7 million a year for economic incentives, including another one that’s meant to lure companies into Sugar Land. That program provides cash grants to companies bringing at least 100 jobs with salaries of at least 50 percent of the city’s average household income. They also need leases spanning at least 25,000 square feet or a minimum investment of $15 million for a new build.

— Maddy Sperling