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Levy Park, Sawyer Yards, The Headquarters, Avenida Houston and SEARCH Win Top ULI Awards

Levy Park

HOUSTON – (By Michelle Leigh Smith, Realty News Report) – Levy Park, Sawyer Yards, The Headquarters, Avenida Houston, SEARCH/House of Tiny Treasures, earned top recognition in the Development of Distinction Awards presented by the Houston District Council of the Urban Land Institute.

Levy Park, a project that came to fruition after more than 17 years, was selected for the People’s Choice Award during live voting at the Urban Land Institute’s annual Development of Distinction Awards Tuesday night at The Astorian. The six-acre, mixed use Levy Park was also the winner in the Urban Open Space category. The Upper Kirby Redevelopment Authority worked with architect Natalye Appel + Associates, OJB Landscape Architecture and Burton Construction to transform a poorly maintained and underutilized park into a world-class, community-focused haven for children, seniors, millennials and dogs. According to the ULI jury panel, Levy Park exhibits a “sense of community” with its “design rooms” within the park and diverse daytime programming.

“It was an amazing experience to be a part of the talented design team with OJB Landscape Architecture, and to collaborate with the innovative public – private client partnership of Upper Kirby District, Levy Park Conservancy, City of Houston Parks Department, and Midway,” said architect Natalye Appel.

As part of the Levy Park transformation, Midway, a Houston-based firm, developed the 11-acre Kirby Grove with a new Class A office building, restaurants and a multifamily building adjacent to Levy Park, which is west of Kirby Drive near Richmond Avenue.

“This project is the perfect example of a great public – private partnership benefitting the entire City,” said Maureen Sanders, chair of the Levy Park Conservancy.

In the For-Profit Category (large), the 2018 award went to Sawyer Yards, by The Deal Company, Western General, Lovett Commercial, and j5 Equities. Sawyer Yards is a creative campus spanning more than 40 acres of industrial warehouses in Houston’s Historic First Ward neighborhood, not far from downtown. Densely occupied by art studios, galleries, restaurants, unique fitness concepts, breweries and a public art plaza, this area has become an important local arts and entertainment destination. According to the national jury, the “artistic village is an interesting concept” with culture that “rubbed off on the developers.” They liked the layout that “unfolds as you go” was appealing and high marks were given for the emphasis on “taking care of an underserved community.”

In the For-Profit Category (small), the 2018 award went to a creative office development called The Headquarters by Work by Headquarters, LLC. Like other new developments in the East End, it was designed to cater to the needs of small to medium-sized businesses looking for a dynamic and functional work environment with the perks of a corporate campus including on-site food and beverage, reception services and shared amenities like a community kitchen, lounges, conference rooms, and a courtyard. There are “a lot of things happening here” with marked differences from other popular co-working space with outstanding “successful programming and design,” noted the jury panel. The team included TPC Real Estate, Goldking Realty, PDR Architect and Scott & Reid.

Two projects were recognized In the Not-for-Profit category, including Avenida Houston by Houston First. The $175M renovation of the George R. Brown Convention Center included the new Partnership Tower office building, a new 1,820-space garage, and a 97,000-SF pedestrian plaza in front of the convention center helping to transform Downtown Houston from a day-time only business center into a functioning urban hub, where cultural, sports and recreational venues contribute to a livable downtown and a notable national destination. According to the national jury, Avenida was “transformative!” emphasizing its “three-dimensional” capacity which is “full-time – day and night.”

The Avenida Houston team included Griffin Partners Development, SWA, WHR Architects, Team Hoke Architecture, Gensler, B&D Contractors and Vaughn Construction. Ed Wulfe, Chairman & CEO, of Wulfe & Co, was involved in leasing the retail portion. Wulfe won a ULI Development of Distinction Award for Gulfgate Center in 2012.

The second award winner in the Not-for-Profit category was SEARCH Foshee Family House of Tiny Treasures by SEARCH Employment Services & Care Hub. Studio Red Architects designed the multi-dimensional campus, with a mission to provide developmentally focused childcare for pre-school kids while their parents, most of whom reside in shelters or other housing programs, attend classes and enter the work for welcoming, inspiring spaces. Studio Red Architects and Forney Construction worked with SEARCH.

The Development of Distinction awards program is the centerpiece of ULI’s efforts to recognize developments and public open spaces that exemplify best practices in design, construction, economic viability, healthy places, marketing and management and is modeled after the national Urban Land Institute Global Awards for Excellence and Urban Open Space Awards.

The 2018 Development of Distinction finalists were selected by a nomination panel of Houston real estate leaders that included Dan Gilbane, Gilbane Building Company; Drew Mengwasser, TBG Partners; Lisa Nickel, Genesis Collaborative; Greg Patch, LJA Engineers; Julie Peak, FirstSouthwest; and Jennifer Raymond, JPR Commercial Real Estate.

In a month that saw the loss of real estate giant Joe McDermott, Jr. who worked with the late Dan Moody Sr. to create Town & Country Village and with the late Walter M. Mischer Sr. to essentially define development, it was reassuring to see that same tenacity rewarded by the Urban Land Institute, whose mission is to inspire the kind of land use that fuels the creation of a flourishing global city.

Look at the traits of the early pioneers of real estate and see the similarities of those who are shaping Houston today. One of Mischer’s friends recalls that, “While most of us were runnin’ off and braggin’ about the new money in our pockets, Walt kept his eyes and ears open and his mouth shut.” There was some of the same modesty among the crowd during the ULI Awards cocktail hour at The Astorian Tuesday night. Edwin C. Friedrichs, Executive Director of Walter P. Moore confided, “We like to do high impact projects, and are not so focused on making money.”

Feb. 1, 2018 Realty News Report Copyright 2018


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