HOUSTON – (By Michelle Leigh Smith for Realty News Report) – What could be Houston’s most transformative urban infill development is going to rise on the eastern edge of downtown.
It’s on a waterfront site facing what Houstonians call “a bayou.”
Instead of a “bayou” it could have been named “a river.” So the developer of the massive real estate project has christened it “East River.”
At a panel discussion Wednesday, Midway CEO Jonathan Brinsden said East River is set to break ground by year-end.
By the numbers, East River will be ensconced on more than 150 acres, with more than a mile of waterfront on Buffalo Bayou and plans for 8.9 million SF of office space, 1,400 multi-family units, 390 hotel rooms, and 475 single-family residences. Brinsden provided a fresh update of the project Wednesday at an Greater Houston Partnership event at the historic DeLuxe Theater on Lyons Avenue.
East River will be the site of the new Houston Maritime Museum, still in fundraising mode, and will face Buffalo Bayou near East River’s entrance. “It’s only fitting that the Houston Maritime Museum be right on the bayou,” says Brinsden.
The north side of the East River project fronts Clinton Drive, once the home of Brown & Root, founded in 1919 and celebrated its 100thanniversary this year. The engineering and construction firm evolved from its blue-collar roots, building naval bases and Mansfield Dam off the Colorado River, with more than two million tons of concrete in 1936. After building much of the Johnson Space Center and NASA as well as many other government facilities, they merged with M.W. Kellogg in 1998, forming KBR.
Midway’s team is working closely with the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the City of Houston and neighborhood partners like Kathy Flanagan-Payton, President and CEO of the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation and Ann Taylor, Midway’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, serves on the Fifth Ward CRC’s board. “It will take a massive infrastructure project to deliver an environment that is a truly first-class urban experiences,” says Brinsden. “To do this, we are re-stitching the urban grid – connecting main thoroughfares like Gregg, Bayou and Bringhurst. Hirsch Street follows the eastern border of the project, with Jensen Drive on the west.
“For years Houston turned its back on the bayous – now they are embracing them. It’s both an opportunity and a challenge,” he says. Midway’s guiding principles that developments be urban, active, excellent, authentic and exponential are all at play.
Brinsden is a member of the Urban Land Institute Global Board of Directors and a past Chair of ULI Houston.
“We follow these tenets to help us weigh decisions and develop a consistently high-quality place,” Brinsden said. “We are always looking at how does this do more for everyone? Over time, as we grow, we hope that some of the 150 acres may be used for community gardens, for school and community activities.”
CRBE will facilitate leasing of Phase One of East River. Recent townhome development in the Fifth Ward is a strong indicator of what’s coming. Architect Camilo Parra of the Parra Design Group, headquartered at 4619 Lyons Avenue, has been designing upscale homes with quality finishes, custom cabinets and hardwood floors for the past five years. “We have no trouble selling homes there because it’s such a great location – close to downtown and there’s a new elementary school and community center,” says Nancy Parra, financial manager for Parra. The homes’ price point aims at median-income families and first-time home buyers.
St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, down one block from Parra Design’s offices, was built in the 1940s and has been abandoned for the last few years. The planners received a letter of intent from the City of Houston on Wednesday for a $53 million investment that will provide 179 mixed income apartments, according to Flanagan-Payton. Kinder Institute has recently compiled some terrific community data on gentrification in the neighborhood that the late Barbara Jordan and Mickey Leland called home.
Aug. 29, 2019 Realty News Report Copyright 2019
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