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HFF Research Update for April 22, 2016: Retreat to Glory

Friday, April 22, 2016

Weekly insights on current research in the commercial real estate industry from HFF Managing Director of Research Jimmy Hinton. View Daily Rates on the HFF website or access the HFF Daily Rates App in iTunes.

The below monument is dedicated to a general. The photo is not in fact from Europe but from Houston, where 180 years ago (-1) a very important surrender was offered.

Houston monument

It was March 6th that the Alamo fell to Mexico’s General Antonio López de Santa Anna. Emboldened, he pushed his army of more than 6,000, northeast in pursuit of Texan settlers who were retreating towards the Sabine River, the eastern border of the Republic. As news spread of the little mission’s sack in San Antonio, General Sam Houston’s volunteer army swelled threefold to a force of approximately 1,400. Over many weeks, Houston wished to avoid engaging Santa Anna’s forces. Retreating some 220 miles on foot, Houston’s army became increasingly frustrated with their leader’s “cowardly” strategy, as did the countrymen and leadership of the Republic he was charged with defending.

rates for april 22 2016

In a letter to Sam Houston, then President of the Republic of Texas David G. Burnet wrote, “The enemy are laughing you to scorn. You must fight them. You must retreat no further. The country expects you to fight. The salvation of the country depends on your doing so.”

Houston decided to make his stand, and it is here that Santa Anna makes a critical miscalculation.

Mexican President Miguel Barragán died, leaving Santa Anna desirous to return to Mexico City to fortify his political position. Offsetting that desire was a fear that doing so would afford fellow General José de Urrea the opportunity to finish the Texans off and claim the territory for Mexico. Santa Anna decided to carve off a small unit numbering 700 to push further ahead, storm government buildings in Harrisburg and extinguish Texan rule for good.

Arriving to Harrisburg literally minutes too late, Santa Anna elected not to kill an escaping Burnet, who was fleeing with his family by rowboat to Galveston Island.

Santa Anna had failed to murder governing officials, had significantly reduced the number of forces under his direct command, had increased the distance between Urrea’s support and now had Houston’s army between them. Yet he felt emboldened, he had severed communications between Houston and his leadership, now in isolation, and the “coward” Houston was headed directly toward him.

Indeed he was, with a motivated force of men and better familiarity with the battleground of marshes, bayous and bogs. At 4:30pm Houston’s forces attacked en masse, surprising the Mexicans and immediately dispersing them chaotically. The battle was over inside 20 minutes.

Santa Anna (below, in blue and white) was captured and a badly-wounded Houston (laying) accepted his surrender. The Republic was saved.

general sam houston

The monument in the first picture above is of General Sam Houston. His horse stands on three hooves, with one raised, symbolizing his battle injury contributing to his later death.

General Sam Houston’s “retreat to glory” is a fitting reminder that sometimes we must take two steps backwards in order to make further progress forward.


About Jimmy Hinton

HFF Jimmy HintonMr. Hinton serves as Managing Director of HFF, responsible for the firm’s national research efforts. Mr. Hinton works with the executive management team to assist in investor relations and to inform both HFF staff and firm clients with in-depth analysis of economic, property and capital market trends. He is also responsible for providing extensive market reports, client presentations and deal-specific analysis for debt placement and investment sales assignments. Mr. Hinton’s responsibilities include substantial interaction with pension funds, life insurance companies, regional and CMBS lenders, REITs, foreign investors and private equity funds.

During his tenure at HFF, Mr. Hinton has supported the execution of more than 150 commercial real estate transactions totaling more than $4.5 billion in 20 states. Mr. Hinton has experience in fixed- and adjustable-rate debt, mezzanine debt, construction loans and joint venture executions on behalf of clients engaged in the acquisition, development and recapitalization of property types including multi-housing, industrial, office, retail, medical office and storage properties.

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