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Reimagining the Houston Farmers Market – Ground Broken for Heights Project

HOUSTON – (By Michelle Leigh Smith for Realty News Report) – MLB Capital Partners, Houston-based commercial real estate investment, broke ground Tuesday on the much-anticipated Houston Farmers Market redevelopment project near The Heights.

The 77-year-old market on Airline Drive will be upgraded with enhanced facilities, modern infrastructure, diversified product offerings and sustainable community programming to establish a unique destination retail experience. Project consultant and James Beard Award-winning Chef Chris Shepherd announced plans to develop a concept unique to the Houston Farmers Market.

“As the country’s fourth largest city and leading culinary capital, Houston is long overdue for a world-class market,” said Todd Mason, Managing Principal for MLB Capital Partners. “We are thrilled to reinvigorate this local landmark into an experiential destination for both Houstonians and visitors to enjoy.”

There were other bids on the property but part of the allure for the Farmer’s Market Association was that Todd Mason and MLB Capital Partners wanted to preserve the property as a farmer’s market.

To preserve and build upon this cultural landmark, MLB Capital Partners will make enhancements to the 17.67-acre market in the east side of The Heights and establish an environment ideal for extended hours of shopping, socializing and entertainment. Upgrades include modern infrastructure, new climate-controlled spaces, shaded open-air market areas, restrooms, and common seating areas; more visible, organized parking and traffic circulation; defined sidewalks, site landscaping and dedicated green spaces for an improved visitor experience. Dedicated green spaces will serve as a setting for community programming, such as chef demonstrations, wine tastings, and local entertainment. In addition to improvements to the existing facilities, MLB Capital Partners plans to add square footage to host a mix of fabulous coffee, interesting merchants and diverse culinary concepts.

Among the vendor choices are Flores Spice & Trade, Manzano’s Produce, De Mi Tierra Chiles, Mex Luna Produce, Pereyda Produce and Tierra Nuevo Produce. The market will maintain business operation throughout the redevelopment process as many of their areas are expanded and upgraded.  “Co-op shopping will continue and most of the tenants are happy to have them,” says Mason. “Northside Banana has actually created a specific space just for that purpose and are focused on creating more of that business at this time.”

MLB Capital Partners Fred Baca, Jeff-Lindenberger, Todd Mason and Chef Chris-Shepherd. Photo credit: Dave Rossman

MLB Capital Partners enlisted an innovative and dedicated group of project consultants and partners including Clark Condon Associates and Studio RED Architects to assist with the revitalization of this storied site. In addition to developing an exclusive concept for the market, Chef Shepherd will oversee the direction and functional design of the new buildouts as well as influence the magic of the tenant.

In addition to Shepherd, the Houston Farmers Market project partners also include Gunda Corporation and Arch-Con Construction. Over the past two years, the team has analyzed the needs of the area, the market, its visitors and vendors in order to develop the master plan.

In May 2017, MLB Capital Partners purchased the 17.67-acre property located at 2520 Airline Drive in the east side of The Heights from The Farmers’ Marketing Association of Houston Inc., who owned and operated the market since its inception in 1942. For the past 77 years, the farmers market has served as a location for farmers to sell fresh produce and goods to the surrounding Houston neighborhoods.

MLB Capital Partners is a Houston-based commercial real estate investment company focused on niche investments. With a combined 80 years of real estate experience, Todd Mason, Jeff Lindenberger and Fred Baca specialize in redeveloping commercial properties

Midwest-raised, James Beard Award-winning Chef Chris Shepherd is well known in the Houston culinary scene since opening the award-winning Underbelly restaurant in 2012.

He began his fine dining career at Brennan’s of Houston, where he spent seven years in the kitchen and then ran the wine program for two. He left Brennan’s in 2006 to open Catalan Food & Wine, which was named one of Esquire’s Best New Restaurants in America that same year.

Aug. 7,  2019 Realty News Report Copyright 2019

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