Cy-Fair Edition - May 2020

CYFAIR EDITION

VOLUME 11, ISSUE 9  MAY 19JUNE 15, 2020

ONLINE AT

CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

All content in this print publication, both editorial and advertisements, was up to date as of press deadline. Due to the fast-changing nature of this event, editorial and advertising information may have changed. Please visit communityimpact.com and advertiser websites for more information. Thanks for your support.

Cy-Fair unemployment claims rising

March 18-April 18 claims by ZIP code May 1 marked the start of Texas reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic, but economy experts anticipate the number of unemployment claims will continue to rise.

INSIDE

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More than 20,000

Harris County unemployment: 2019 vs. 2020 Who qualies for unemployment in Texas?

99 TOLL

2,592 claims 8.9%of workforce

3,640claims 8.2%of workforce

Cy-Fair residents led initial claims for unemployment insurance benets from March 18-April 18, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

290

77070

77429

4,208claims 10.5%of workforce

About 23%

How to le for unemployment

1960

2,391 claims 8.8%of workforce

3,496claims 8.9%of workforce

of these claims were ineligible for assistance.

77433

77065

When can Texas businesses begin to reopen?

77064

SOURCE: TEXAS WORKFORCE COMMISSION COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

1,907claims 9.2%of workforce

249

77095

N

10

77040

Local business owner reactions

6

2,139claims 8%of workforce

Texas unemployment claims by industry

Across the state, every major industry is seeing job losses during the coronavirus pandemic. The data below shows the number of employees lost statewide in the most- aected job sectors from March 2-April 25.

= 10,000 jobs lost

252,574 Accommodation and food services

173,152 Retail trade

149,357 Health care and social assistance

110,977 Administrative and support, and waste management and remediation services

67,399 Manufacturing

65,555 Construction

SOURCES: TEXAS WORKFORCE COMMISSION, U.S. CENSUS BUREAUCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

HOUSTON, WE CAN

CARE FOR OUR COMMUNITY, CONTROL THE SPREAD, SAVE LIVES

Houston is strong. When confronted with adversity, we band together and overcome. And though this coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented, we face it the same way—together.

Houston Methodist would like to thank our employees, physicians, scientists and all health care workers who are committed to helping the community. Together we can make our city healthy and vibrant again.

houstonmethodist.org | #houstonwecan

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CY-FAIR EDITION • MAY 2020

4

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

Resilient and strong for our patients and their families.

Access to Care Texas Children’s looks forward to seeing you soon, either virtually or in clinic: • Virtual visits – We are able to convert many clinic visits to virtual visits, either via phone or video. If you have an appointment, the specialty clinic will contact you directly if a virtual visit is available. • Clinic visits – If you need to come in for a visit, we have taken every precaution to keep you and our staff safe. When you arrive, you will experience a health screening and be issued a mask, be surrounded by a clean environment, and treated with care by medical staff wearing the right protective gear and following the latest safety protocols.

Texas Children’s is dedicated to providing the very best for our patients and their families. That commitment remains stronger than ever today as we confront this current challenging and ever-changing situation. As always, we are proud to offer you the same great care you know and trust – now with the safest, most convenient ways to access it. Appointments Available We are open and have availability for clinic and virtual visits. You can schedule a new appointment, reschedule an existing appointment to a sooner virtual visit and even add yourself to a wait list in MyChart. To make an appointment or reschedule, please visit texaschildrens.org/appts or contact your care team directly.

Texas Children’s wants you to know that we are here to support you, serve as a trusted resource, and most importantly, continue to provide the health care children need. Please visit texaschildrens.org/appts to schedule your new or return visit today.

5

CY-FAIR EDITION • MAY 2020

Lone Star College is committed to helping you achieve your goals. LSC offers Associates and Bachelor’s Degrees, 20+ fully-online degrees that allow you to graduate without setting a foot on campus, certifications for high-demand industries, and credits that enable you to transfer to universities. Visit LoneStar.edu/Start

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

CONTENTS

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

FROMKELLI: While we may be confused as to what day it is or how long we’ve been working from home, our team hasn’t lost sight of our mission to inform citizens and help local businesses thrive. In this issue, we look at the eect of the coronavirus on personal nances, starting with a look at the recent unemployment spike. Our newly promoted editor, Danica Smithwick, digs into the data and resources for those suddenly without a paycheck. Be sure to congratulate Danica and welcome Kim Giannetti, our Spring/Klein general manager who will be leading the Cy-Fair edition as well. After 8.5 unforgettable years as an “Impacter” with Community Impact Newspaper , I am signing o as I step into a role in ministry here in the community. I hope to see you around as we serve this wonderful community together. Kelli Ray, GENERALMANAGER

PUBLISHERS AND FOUNDERS John and Jennifer Garrett PUBLISHERHOUSTONMETRO Jason Culpepper GENERAL MANAGER Kelli Ray, kray@communityimpact.com EDITORIAL EXECUTIVE EDITOR Joe Lanane MANAGING EDITOR Matt Stephens STAFFWRITERS Shawn Arrajj, Colleen Ferguson, Anna Lotz, Kelly Schaer, Hannah Zedaker ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Tess Coverman ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Janet Chambers, Karen Nickerson DESIGN CREATIVE DIRECTOR Derek Sullivan ART PRODUCTIONMANAGER Tessa Hoee STAFF DESIGNERS Chase Brooks, Anya Gallant, Justin Howell, Matthew T. Mills, Stephanie Torres, EDITOR Danica Smithwick COPY CHIEF Andy Comer COPY EDITORS Ben Dickerson, Kasey Salisbury Ronald Winters BUSINESS GROUP PUBLISHER Traci Rodriguez CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Claire Love ABOUT US John and Jennifer Garrett began Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 in Pugerville, Texas. The company’s mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. CONTACT US 8400 N. Sam Houston Parkway W., Ste. 220 Houston, TX 77064 • 2814696181 communityimpact.com PRESS RELEASES cyfnews@communityimpact.com SUBSCRIPTIONS communityimpact.com/subscriptions © 2020 Community Impact Newspaper Co. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher.

BUSINESS INNOVATION

8

Local establishments oering unique services during coronavirus TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES 13 Updates on Cy-Fair road projects EDUCATION 21 New end-of-year grading policies CITY& COUNTY 24 Sales tax collections up in March

FROMDANICA: This month, we told dicult stories of families facing layos and business owners struggling to make ends meet in the midst of a pandemic (see Page 30). But despite these uncertainties, there were also hints of hope: nonprots going the extra mile (see Page 29), businesses innovating to meet customers’ needs (see Page 8) and neighbors bringing kids a sense of normalcy (see Page 26). Danica Smithwick, EDITOR

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Neighbors make birthdays special PEOPLE

DAILY LOCAL NEWSLETTER Sign up to receive daily headlines directly to your inbox. communityimpact.com/ newsletter

EEDITIONS Explore over 100 new interactive digital editions at communityimpact.com.

27 Travel agent discusses future of tourism NONPROFIT 29 Organizations reach those in need REAL ESTATE 33 IMPACT DEALS 36 Local coupons

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CYFAIR EDITION • MAY 2020

BUSINESS INNOVATION

Local business owners adapt to coronavirus restrictions

GIVINGBACK The Houston Food Bank can provide three meals for every $1 donated . With Shannon Valentine’s goal of donating $5,000 , local families will help provide 15,000 meals to Houstonians in need.

CREATIVE EFFORTS AR Workshop is offering several new services during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of participating in the studio, customers can choose between several take-home do-it-yourself kits: • Plank signs

• Wood letter tiles • Mini wood signs • Canvas bags • Cornhole boards • Chunky knit blankets

Capturing coronavirus Longtime Cypress resident and full-time photographer Shannon Valentine, owner of Lunalux, found a way to continue photographing families and make the most of the coronavirus pandemic while she was unable to conduct business as usual. On April 7, she launched a GoFundMe campaign called the

Getting crafty at home Local do-it-yourself craft studio

shannon@lunaluxtx.com www.facebook.com/lunaluxtx in your photos. This is all about coming together, creating mem- ories and enjoying sharing what we’re all doing,” she said. $3,000 of her $5,000 goal. In addition to supporting an organization doing good during the pandemic, she said the project was intended to be fun for local families. “Don’t stress about how you look

continue offering the take-home kits for a while. The business also began offering party kits, including signs and plank trays for two to six people to create their own decor, which range in price from $57-$145. Pickup times are 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. 16718 House & Hahl Road, Ste. C-1, Cypress 832-653-7277 www.arworkshop.com

AR Workshop temporarily closed its indoor studio March 25, and owners launched a new service for custom- ers to pick up DIY “take and make” crafting kits. Projects include knit blankets, wood signs, letter tiles, tote bags, yard games and pillow covers, among others. Customers can place their orders online and pick up their supplies outside AR Workshop. While the business reopened May 4, owner Rebecca Warriner said she would

Texas Front Porch Project—an effort to capture portraits of families on their front porches in exchange for donations to the Houston Food Bank. By early May, she had raised nearly

Finding favorites in store

In addition to handling deliveries and offering a special menu for takeout and curbside pickup, the staff at Peli Peli launched a partnership with Kroger on April 17, offering $10 to-go meals. The South African restaurant curated a special menu for the meals. The program expanded to 11 loca- tions by early May, including at 24350 Barker Cypress Road, Cypress.

“[The coronavirus pandemic] has been devastating for us, but we are making adjustments to survive ... and provide a means of support for our employees,” owner Thomas Nguyen said. 110 Vintage Park Blvd., Bldg. J, Ste. P, Houston 281-257-9500 www.pelipeli.com

Peli Peli teamed up with Kroger to offer $10 to-go meals.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY DANICA SMITHWICK

LEARNING ONLINE

HOWTOMAKE A CANDLE Foxfire Candle Works is offering at-home candle-making kits. Step 1: Mix 15 milliliters of provided oils to desired scent Step 2: Heat wax in microwave, stirring periodically, until fully melted Step 3: Pour wax into candle jar, add oils and stir Step 4: Place wick and let cool for approximately 90 minutes

The local business offers music and art education, such as: • Musical instruments • Drama

• Singing • Drawing • Painting

Polishing skills virtually

Foxfire CandleWorks Foxfire Candle Works, a locally owned candle boutique and fra- grance bar located in Vintage Park, is supporting health care providers by providing them with customized scent kits. According to owners Erica and

Cy-Fair Music & Arts has had more students enroll in group classes and private lessons since they were moved online in late March, co-owner Antonius Bittmann said. “It took several of our staff a week of very long days to set up the technologies, train both teachers and students on how to use them, and reschedule lessons and classes,” he said. The pandemic has influenced the way Bittmann and his wife, Valentina Jotovic, approach their business,

considering flexibility in responding to natural and economic disasters. He said Cy-Fair Music & Arts will maintain its online presence for the foreseeable future depending on customer demand—especially while so many clients feel more comfort- able in a virtual classroom during this time.

needs a break or needs something fun that’s not so serious,” Erica Hoke said. “[They] tell us what their favorite scents are, ... [and] we put together a kit for them.” Additionally, Foxfire Candle Works is offering at-home candle-making kits available for purchase on its website via curbside pickup or delivery. 126 Vintage Park Blvd., Ste. C, Houston 832-458-5392 www.foxfirecandleworks.com

Jeff Hoke, one nominated front-line worker is randomly selected each week to receive a free, customized candle-making kit. “Different people have sent in [nominations] ... where they tell us who they think deserves it or who

7103 Glen Chase Court, Houston 281-855-8855 www.cyfairmusicandarts.com

Keeping up appearances

PICK UP PRODUCTS TO GO Salons at Stone Gate and The Factory Salon are offering retail products and hair-coloring kits for free curbside pickup or $3 delivery.

Salons at Stone Gate, 11734 Barker Cypress Road, Ste. 111, Cypress www.salonsatstonegate.com The Factory Salon, 10920 Fry Road, Ste. 450, Cypress www.thefactorysalon.net Color kits range from $45-$65 and include all supplies and instructions. Stylists also hosted online hair tutorials during the closure.

After closing in late March, the staff at Salons at Stone Gate put together at-home hair-coloring kits for their clients in addition to offering their traditional retail products for home delivery or curbside pickup. Kits are also available at The Factory Salon. Customers can place orders via email, and owner Gino Hernandez said these services would continue despite the salons reopening May 8.

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CY-FAIR EDITION • MAY 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

IMPACTS

COMPILED BY SHAWN ARRAJJ AND DANICA SMITHWICK

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding

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Crust Pizza Co.

COURTESY CRUST PIZZA CO.

1960

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Galiana’s Tex Mex & Agave Bar

TM; © 2020 COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER CO. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. MAP NOT TO SCALE N

529

COURTESY GALIANA’S TEX MEX & AGAVE BAR

NOWOPEN 1 Crust Pizza Co. opened April 22 at 11550 Louetta Road, Ste. 1000, Houston. The eatery has several locations through- out the Greater Houston area and oers an extensive menu of pizzas, appetizers, salads, pastas, subs and desserts. Dine- in, curbside pickup and delivery services are available as of press time. 281-547-7698. www.crustpizzaco.com 2 Galiana’s Tex Mex & Agave Bar opened April 29 at 24110 Hwy. 290, Ste. 500, Cypress, in what was formerly known as Galiana’s Bakery & Cafe. The eatery is open daily from 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m., serving fajitas, quesadillas, enchi- ladas, tacos and other Tex-Mex dishes. Galiana’s is part of Grupo Herrera Restau- rants, which also includes Marvino’s Italian Kitchen, Alicia’s Mexican Grille and Dario’s Steakhouse & Seafood. 832-653-6853. www.facebook.com/galianastexmex

8 Cypress Pointe Health and Wellness Center began accepting patients in late March at its newly constructed facility located at 8561 Easton Commons Drive, Houston. The ML Healthcare facility oers skilled nursing and rehabilitation services, long-term care, short-term transitional care, respite care, chronic care management and support services. On-site amenities include a rehabilitation gym, social and recreational activities, a salon and personalized meal plans. 832-497-5479. www.cypresspointehc.net RELOCATION 9 French Violet Boutique relocated April 4 from 8312 Louetta Road, Ste. D, Spring, to a space in Vintage Park at 130 Vintage Park Blvd., Ste. C, Houston. Owned by Earlene White, the shop is inspired by the uptown boutiques of New Orleans and carries women’s clothing, bold accessories and artisan jewelry that White crafts herself. 832-953-2467. www.frenchvioletboutique.com

3 Black Bear Diner opened April 28 at 19823 Hwy. 290, Houston, oering curb- side pickup and delivery from third-party apps. The eatery is also oering special family meal packages during this time. The diner is open daily from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Menu items range from omelets and pancakes to burgers, salads, sandwiches, salmon, steak and fried chicken. 346-277-9027. www.blackbeardiner.com 4 Sabor Seafood opened in late Feb- ruary at 18955 Hwy. 249, Houston. The family-friendly eatery serves a variety of seafood, chicken and beef dishes, among other items, and oers cocktails and beer. 832-869-4833. www.saborseafood.com 5 Bella Restaurants Group opened the newest location of Coco Crepes, Waes & Coee in late March at The Boardwalk at Towne Lake, 9945 Barker Cypress Road, Cypress. This is the cafe’s 10th location in the Houston area. Coco Crepes serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert seven days a week with menu options such as

made-to-order sweet and savory crepes, paninis, waes, specialty coee and gela- to. 281-758-5311. www.cococrepes.com 6 Karl Lagerfeld Paris opened March 13 at the Houston Premium Outlets, 29300 Hempstead Road, Cypress. Other locations in the United States include Chi- cago, Las Vegas and Orlando, according to the retailer’s website. The store sells women’s apparel, accessories, shoes and handbags. The 2,449-square-foot space is located next to TUMI and Asics. 281-304-5820. www.karllagerfeldparis.com 7 Athena Greek & European Kitchen opened in early April in the Plaza on FM 529, 13250 FM 529, Houston. The restau- rant debuted with only delivery and to-go service but began oering dine-in service at 25% capacity in early May under state guidelines for restaurants. The eatery oers a variety of cuisines, including Greek, French and American. 832-328-5494. www.athenasgreekkitchen.com

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CYFAIR EDITION • MAY 2020

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EQUAL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY Prices, specifications, details and availability of Builder’s homes are subject to change without notice. NASH Elyson, LLC (‘Fee Owner”) is the owner and developer of the Elyson Community (“Community”). Certain home- builders unaffiliated with the Fee Owner or its related entities (collectively, “Elyson”) are building homes in the Community (“Builder(s)”). Fee Owner has retained Newland Communities solely as the property manager for the Community. North America Sekisui House has an interest in one of the members in Fee Owner. Newland Communities and North America Sekisui House are not co-developing, co-building, or otherwise responsible for any of the obligations or representations of any of the Builders, and shall have no obligations to any buyer regarding a home purchase from a Builder. Purchasers of homes from any of the Builders waive any claims against Newland Communities and/or North America Sekisui House arising out of their purchase transaction. 2020 © Elyson. All Rights Reserved. Elyson is a trademark of NASH FM529, LLC, and may not be copied, imitated or used, in whole or in part, without prior written permission.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY SHAWN ARRAJJ AND HANNAH ZEDAKER

ONGOING PROJECT

HWY. 249 RAMPS TO SPRING CYPRESS ROAD The Texas Department of Transportation began a three-month project April 20 to reverse the Hwy. 249 northbound entrance and exit ramps between Jones and Spring Cypress roads. According to TxDOT Public Information Ocer Danny Perez, the $2.6 million project will reverse the existing entrance/exit ramp conguration to an exit/entrance conguration by shifting the new exit ramp south of the current entrance ramp. Perez said the project aims to ease trac congestion the interchange’s current design facilitates. “Hwy. 249 northbound trac exiting to Spring Cypress Road during the afternoon commute was queuing up back on the main lanes due to the close proximity of the exit ramp to the Hwy. 249/Spring Cypress Road signalized intersection,” Perez said in an email. In the interim, northbound drivers can exit Hwy. 249 south of Louetta Road or enter Hwy. 249 south of Louetta Road or north of Spring Cypress Road.

SHAW RD.

SCHIEL RD.

GRANT RD.

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HOUSE & HAHL RD.

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ENTRANCE

COMPLETED PROJECTS 1 Cypress North Houston Road widening Crews with Harris County Precinct 3 nished work in May on a project to widen Cypress North Houston Road from two lanes to four lanes from east of Green- house Road to west of Barker Trace Road in Cypress. The segment of the road was originally built in 2016. The widening project, which ocials said was needed to accommodate increased trac volumes, was completed roughly one year after a separate project to widen the road be- tween Greenhouse and Fry roads. Timeline: October 2019-April 2020 Cost: $3.2 million (estimated) Funding source: Harris County Precinct 3

ONGOING PROJECTS 2 Grant Road widening

3 Hwy. 6 bridge construction In April, construction crews began working on footings and columns between Hwy. 290 and Wortham Boulevard that will be used to support a four-lane yover bridge that will connect Hwy. 6 and FM 1960 over Hwy. 290. In May, crews also continued working on retaining walls at the south end of the bridge. Once completed the bridge will span from North Eldridge Parkway to just north of Copper Grove Boulevard. A one-lane southbound bridge will also extend from south of Hwy. 290 to Copper Grove. Estimates from the Texas Department of Transportation indicate the project will be completed in late 2020. Timeline: September 2019-late 2020 Cost: $41.4 million Funding source: TxDOT

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Two projects are moving forward to widen Grant Road from two lanes to four lanes. The Harris County Precinct 3 projects are both in the study phase. The rst project, from Spring Cypress to Shaw roads, is slat- ed to enter the design phase in the second quarter of 2020. The second project, from Shaw to Telge roads, is set to enter the de- sign phase in the third quarter. Construc- tion dates and costs are to be determined. Timeline: second quarter-TBD (Spring Cypress to Shaw roads), third quarter-TBD (Shaw to Telge roads) Cost: TBD Funding source: Harris County Precinct 4

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ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF APRIL 28. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT CYFNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM. SOURCE: TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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CYFAIR EDITION • MAY 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

REAL ESTATE

“[SUBURBANMARKETS] HAVE DONE AGOOD JOBAT CONTROLLING THEIR SUPPLY. THEY MIGHT HAVE A LITTLE BETTEROF A CHANCE AT CONTROLLING THAT VACANCYNUMBER BECAUSE THEIR SUPPLYWON’T GET AS OUT OFWHACK.” JOE BRIGHT, SENIOR ASSOCIATE, NAI PARTNERS coronavirus pandemic could result in more people taking advantage of coworking opportunities. “From all the reports I’ve seen, this is the largest stay-at-home experience we’ve ever done, globally,” she said. “I think it’s going to allow a lot of employers to apply the work-from- home schedule to their employees, especially when you’re talking about a company that is located downtown with employees who live in the suburbs. Many of them are going to learn that people don’t need to be under their managers’ noses to be productive.” The Work Well, located at Hwy. 6 and Hwy. 290 in Cy-Fair, has remained open throughout the coronavirus but has restricted day passes and walk-in guests, Stewart said. The space has seen declines in coworking and con- ference roommemberships over the course of the pandemic, but Stewart said the company waived late fees for April and May. “We’re remaining positive about potential opportunities,” she said. “When this is all said and done, people are going to want access to that collaborative environment that’s needed for success and growth.”

Expert: Suburban areas could see fewer officemarket struggles

BY SHAWN ARRAJJ

Galleria and downtown Houston also being watched closely, Bright said. Suburban markets—such as Cypress, The Woodlands and Sugar Land— could fare better, he said. “[Those markets] have done a good job at controlling their supply,” he said. “They might have a little better of a chance at controlling that vacancy number because their supply won’t get as out of whack.” An analysis by Caldwell Cos. of list- ings from the real estate information company CoStar showed the vacancy rate in the Cy-Fair area to be at 19% as of April 3. Two office buildings are under construction in the Cy-Fair area as of April 3, totaling 85,000 square feet. In NAI’s office market report for the first quarter of 2020 in Houston, vacancy rates in the FM 1960/Hwy. 249 submarket climbed slightly to 24%, up from 23.7% at the end of 2019. The vacancy rate in the overall Houston area sat at 21.5% in the first quarter, according to NAI. One possible upside to the current turmoil is the potential for older Class B office buildings to be redeveloped, Bright said, though he cautioned it was too early to say for sure the extent to which that could happen. Buildings that struggle to maintain an occupancy rate between 50%-75% are

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the recent plunge in oil prices are both expected to have adverse effects on the Houston-area office market over the course of 2020, including an increase in vacancy rates and a slow- down of new construction, according to local analysts. Around 400,000 people in the Greater Houston area filed for unemployment in March and April, compared to 27,000 people over the same time frame in 2019, according to estimates from the Greater Houston Partnership. The office market was already seeing rising vacancy rates and availability numbers prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Joe Bright, a senior associate with the office tenant representation division of the commercial real estate services firm NAI Partners. “We were already soft,” Bright said. “We expect, for at least the rest of this year, those vacancy and avail- ability numbers to continue to go up. It’s difficult to peg where the market will really end up because it’s hard to say just how low landlords will get to get deals done.” The office market in Houston’s Energy Corridor is expected to be among the hardest hit, with the

among those that could be redevel- oped, he said. “Even before all this happened, our vacancy numbers were enough that when you compared them to the overall unemployment ... it didn’t seem like there were enough office workers in our city to meet the supply of office space,” he said. “That said, it’s easier said than done to redevelop or repurpose an office building.” Shifting landscapes When it comes to long-term leasing projections, Bright said he thinks things will break even in terms of the overall square footage companies are leasing. However, he said some companies could start to re-evaluate how that square footage is used. “I think you’ll probably see com- panies move away from being really dense,” Bright said. “You’ll see more spacing [and] probably more private offices. I think you’ll see more workers working from home in some capacity. They might be able to get away with having less people in their office but more square footage per person.” Miranda Stewart, general manager of the coworking space The Work Well, said the long-term effects of the

Office vacancy rates have fluctuated in the Cy-Fair area preceding the coronavirus pandemic. As of April, rates were still lower than more urban submarkets. MARKET SNAPSHOT

CY-FAIR OFFI CE VACANCY RATE

CY-FAIR OFFI CE RENTAL RATES (annual per square foot)

HOUSTON AREA OFFI CE DATA (first-quarter 2020)

20%

$20

Houston market total Vacancy rate: 21.5%

Rental rate: $29.33 per square foot

19.2% 19.4% 19.6% 19.8%

$19.2 $19.4 $19.6 $19.8

$19.32

$18.79

Central Business District

19%

$19

Rental rate: $39.34

Energy Corridor Vacancy rate: 24.6% Vacancy rate: 25.9%

19%

18.2% 18.4% 18.6% 18.8%

$18.2 $18.4 $18.6 $18.8

18.1%

18%

$18

Rental rate: $29.07

0%

$0

Aug. 2019

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Jan.

Feb.

Mar.

Apr.

Aug. 2019

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Jan.

Feb.

Mar.

Apr.

2020

2020

SOURCE: A CALDWELL COMPANIES ANALYSIS OF COSTAR DATA/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

SOURCE: NAI PARTNERS/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

15

CY-FAIR EDITION • MAY 2020

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16

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

PUBLIC SAFETY Domestic violence calls climb inHarris County

CALLS

BY HANNAH ZEDAKER

shelters in our areas have closed to new clients because they’ve already got a full house and they’re practicing social distancing,” Johnson said. “So it’s even more difficult to get some- body into a shelter.” Findingsanctuary Local officials offered several options for victims of domestic abuse to find refuge if he or she is stuck at home with the abuser, including con- fiding in someone the victim trusts, creating a safe space inside the home and coming up with a signal for when police intervention is needed. “It’s hard to encourage domestic violence survivors to [confide in someone they trust] because ulti- mately, domestic violence is a crime of secrecy,” Colter said. Once those allies are made, Colter added having a code word or some other type of signal that could be used to notify the ally when police inter- vention is needed is also a good plan to have in place. Colter also recommends creating a safe space in the house where there are no weapons or items that could be used as weapons. She also encouraged families to make space when they are able to by taking a walk or a trip to the grocery store to de-escalate a heated situation. “People are still able to go to the grocery store, the pharmacist—places like that might be a place of sanctuary right now for a victim of domestic violence,” Colter said. As with many past crises, Johnson added she anticipates domestic violence calls to continue to climb even after the stay-at-home orders are

January to February, that number shot back up in March, growing 19.84% from February with 1,558 domestic violence-related calls reported countywide. “People are confined [in] their homes, [and] many people are not working or working from home,” HCSO Director of Public Affairs Jason Spencer said. “Those that are not working have no income, so their stress is up, which can cause them to lash out much more quickly. For the batterer, they are home more, which gives themmore access to the victim.” A ‘petri dish’ for domesticviolence Officials added they suspect actual incidences of domestic violence are much higher because more cases are going unreported as connections to the outside world are more limited. “Isolation is literally just exagger- ating any abuse that might have been taking place previously,” said Sheryl Johnson, the director of NAM’s Family Violence Center. The same can be said for incidences of child abuse, said Sarah Hernandez, the communications and outreach coordinator for The Children’s Assess- ment Center—a Harris County-based organization—as many children are now separated from adults they trust such as teachers. To make matters worse, for those who do choose to leave an abusive relationship, Spencer said many Greater Houston-area shelters have also had to cut bed space in half to comply with social distancing guidelines to curb the spread of the coronavirus. “Several of the domestic violence

FOR HELP

Throughout the duration of Harris County’s “Stay Home, Work Safe” order, officials said the combination of encouraged isolation, coronavi- rus-related financial stressors and limited shelter space as a result of social distancing have created an ideal environment for escalated domestic violence. “All of those things create a petri dish for domestic violence,” said Mai- sha Colter, the CEO of Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, a Houston-based organization that provides free legal representation and counseling for survivors of domestic abuse. “We’ve actually seen an uptick in calls for service related to victim programs ... specifically around the time when the stay-at-home orders started to come down.” The same trend could be seen for most organizations dedicated to helping survivors of domestic vio- lence, including Northwest Assistance Ministries’ Family Violence Center, the Houston Area Women’s Center, the Children’s Assessment Center and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, which has a dedicated Domestic Violence Unit and Crime VictimAssistance Unit. “Stay-at-home measures may help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but home may not be the safest place,” said Chau Nguyen, chief public strategies officer for the Houston Area Women’s Center. “Calls to the hotlines have spiked up to 40% on some days, averaging about 60-80 domestic violence-related calls a day.” According to the sheriff’s office, while calls related to domestic violence saw a 10.28% decrease from

While calls to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office related to domestic violence saw an overall 10.28% decrease between the months of January and February, that number shot back up in March by 19.84%.

Family-related aggravated assault

Family-related assault Family-related disturbance

JANUARY

16

219

1,214

FEBRUARY

12

184

1,104

MARCH

31

255

1,272

SOURCE: HARRIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

lifted. “Quite frankly, the longer we’re in this scenario and the longer [the vic- tim] is isolated, the more entrenched some of those behaviors are going to become once we go back to ‘normal life,’” she said.

17

CY-FAIR EDITION • MAY 2020

18

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

PANDEMIC EFFECTS Stephen Head, the chancellor of the Lone Star College System, said the college system has moved classes online, adjusted dates and canceled graduations as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Lone Star College to up online presence following pandemic

in summer enrollment with most classes held online. LSCS anticipates about aa 30% DROP The drop date—the day for students to drop out of classes with a refund if they have been aected by the coronavirus—was moved to MAY 1 $1 MILLION in stimulus funding budgeted for refunds. with around

LSCS facilities are closed from mid-March toa

have been moved online, up from 1,624 classes. Since mid-March 6,825 CLASSES in relief funding as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, with $14 million designated for student nancial aid. LSCS received nearly $28 MILLION

because of the outbreak. JUNE 1

BY ANNA LOTZ

enrollment, with classes beginning June 1 and most classes online. LSCS facilities were closed from mid-March to June 1 as of press time. Despite closed facilities, Head said he believes LSCS is positioned well nancially to weather the pandemic. He said the college system antici- pates losing at most $20 million. In comparison, after Hurricane Harvey in 2017, LSCS saw a loss of about $52 million, he said. LSCS was named to receive more than $28 million in relief funding as part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, according to an April 14 release from the oce of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. According to the release, at least half of the funding has to go toward providing nancial aid to students. This fall, Head said LSCS could see an uptick in enrollment. “Back in 2008, we had double-digit

Lone Star College System increased its online classes from 1,624 classes to 6,825 classes since mid-March as facilities closed during the coronavi- rus pandemic, according to an April 27 news release. LSCS Chancellor Stephen Head said in early April he foresees LSCS continuing to enhance its online options even after stay-at- home orders are lifted. “What happens when you have a situation like this, it exacerbates your weaknesses,” Head said. “We have the largest online enrollment in the country for community colleges. ... You’ll be seeing us really focused on online going forward. ... The other thing is we’re really going to be focused on these workforce programs where we know that there’s a need, like health care for example.” Head said in April he anticipates about a 30% drop in summer

The end of the spring semester was pushed

because of the outbreak. from May 8 toa MAY 22

May graduation ceremonies were CANCELED.

SOURCE: LONE STAR COLLEGE SYSTEMCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

increases after that [recession],” he said. “What happens when the economy is good—and it’s been really good—people were not coming to school. ... As soon as you have a prob- lem, if you don’t have a combination of education and experience, then you could get laid o.”

Although the fall semester is slated to resume with on-site courses, Head said LSCS hopes to expand its online oerings long term. “We already had plans to expand. ... We actually have people from all over the country taking classes, and we wanted to expand on that,” Head said.

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CYFAIR EDITION • MAY 2020

ENVIRONMENT Experts: Coronavirus improved Harris County’s air quality

Ground-level ozone concentrations decreased 17% orders. Data was collected from March 11-April 13 compared to a historic six-year trend over the same time period. During the coronavirus... Houston Advanced Research Center data shows air quality in the Greater Houston area during stay-at-home A closer look

concentration—was given a nonat- tainment designation per National Ambient Air Quality Standards, Beydoun said. “Houston does have an air quality problem, specically with respect to ozone,” he said. “With air quality, ... the lower the concentration, the better, because that means it’s less of that pollution in the air. The less pollution it is and the less exposure, the less problematic it is from a public health perspective.” Bakeyah Nelson, the executive director of nonprot Air Alliance Houston, which advocates for cleaner air, said despite pollutants decreasing across the region, there are still specic Houston-area neighborhoods dealing with chronic air quality issues. Communities of color and low-income neighborhoods adjacent to large industrial facilities are particularly vulnerable to high levels of pollutants, she said. Nelson said she believes regula- tory agencies need to install more air monitoring stations across the Houston area to get a better idea of air quality standards on a local level.

BY KELLY SCHAFLER

Mustapha Beydoun, the chief operating ocer and vice president of the HARC, said the lowering of these three pollutants was due to stay-at-home orders limiting people’s mobility as well as reduced industrial production across the Houston region. Harris County saw more than a 30% reduction in average distance traveled during the outbreak, accord- ing to the HARC’s mobility analysis report. Data showed ground-level ozone concentrations decreased an average of 16% on weekdays and 17.5% on weekends fromMarch 11-April 13 compared to a historic six-year trend over the same time period. BTEX emissions saw a 39% drop, and nitrogen oxides saw a 46% drop. Prior to the pandemic, the Greater Houston area’s air quality—spe- cically for ground-level ozone

Research shows the Greater Houston area’s air quality improved amid the coronavirus pandemic, but a Houston-area organization said air quality in communities near major industrial sectors still needs attention. Houston Advanced Research Center, an environmental research organization, published a report in late April showing several common pollutants in Harris County decreased fromMarch 11-April 13 compared to historical data. Pollutants include ground-level ozone, nitrogen oxides, and a group of volatile organic com- pounds comprising benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes, or BTEX. Data was collected frommonitor- ing stations maintained by either the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality or the Environmental Protec- tion Agency.

BTEX* decreased 39% Nitrogen oxides decreased 46%

*BTEX STANDS FOR BENZENE, TOLUENE, ETHYLBENZENE AND XYLENES EMISSIONS.

SOURCE: HOUSTON ADVANCED RESEARCH CENTERCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

“We have many air monitors, com- paratively speaking, in the Houston region, but we have such a density of industrial facilities throughout our region that we don’t have near the amount of air monitors that we need,” she said. “We don’t really have a sense of whether air quality has improved at a neighborhood level.”

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