HOUSTON – Bringing a combined 100 years of real estate development experience to the table, Houston developers Fred Griffin and Ed Wulfe have joined forces with Houston First Corp. to create restaurants and retail space around the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown.
Approximately 30,000 square feet of space will yield as many as seven new retail, restaurant, sidewalk cafes and entertainment venues.
The retail/restaurant space is expected to be leased up before the Super Bowl is played in Houston on Feb. 5, 2017.
Houston First Corp., which manages the George R. Brown, is working with Griffin Partners and Wulfe & Co. in the development process, which will be enhanced by the opening of the 1,000-room Marriott Marquis, which is under construction.
Ric Campo, chairman of Houston First, said getting the right mix of private-sector development is critical in the overall growth of the area and helps fulfill the convention center master plan.
“These people places will be major amenities for the Avenida de las Americas (the boulevard in front of the convention center), the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel, Discovery Green, the new Marriott Marquis and the new offices and parking garage included in the master plan,” said Campo, who is CEO of the Camden Property Trust, a large multifamily REIT.
The convention center façade will be renovated to present a grand entryway. Avenida de las Americas will be reworked into a high-energy gathering spot that focuses on pedestrian mobility.
Houston First Corp. also is developing an office building at the north end of the convention center, to include some of the retail space. The 30,000 square feet of restaurant spaces will front Avenida de las Americas and range in size from 1,500 sq. ft. to more than 10,000 sq. ft.
Katherine Wildman and Bunny McLeod of Wulfe & Co. are targeting a variety of full service and fast casual restaurants are working with Houston First to identify suitable tenants. The new restaurants will have large patios fronting Avenida de las Americas that offer vistas to the streetscape.
Mr. Griffin’s Houston-based Griffin Partners is also working downtown Houston in partnership with Shorenstein Properties to redevelop the 45-story 800 Bell building, which is being vacated by Exxon Mobil. In addition, Griffin Partners recently sold its 1301 Fannin tower in downtown Houston and in December Griffin purchased the 28-story Bank of America Plaza, a Class A tower in downtown San Antonio, in partnership with Clarion Partners. Mr. Griffin began his real estate career with Friendswood Development, working on the development of Kingwood, Greenspoint, Clear Lake City and other Friendswood projects.
Wulfe & Co. is a Houston-based firm specializing in retail real estate. In the
Uptown District, Wulfe is developing BLVD Place mixed-use project which is anchored by Whole Foods. Wulfe redeveloped Meyerland Plaza and Gulfgate Shopping Center. He began his career at Weingarten Realty.