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ULI Houston 2020 Development of Distinction Winners Build with Community in Mind

Photo courtesy of Urban Land Institute and Bank of America Tower

HOUSTON – (Realty News Report) – Based on the award-winning projects recognized by Urban Land Institute Houston’s 2020 Development of Distinction, building community is as much as part of why they’re notable as the build-outs themselves.

In its own way, each project “enhanced and supported” the community near and beyond its location, said David Kim, ULI Houston executive director. “People want community. People want to be connected.”

And they also appear to want to be near transit. Four of the five winners are near one of Metro’s transit lines.

Held Tuesday, the annual awards program, presented this year by Wilson, Cribbs and Goren, highlighted developments and public open spaces that exemplify bar-raising and best practices in design, construction, economic viability and more. The program is based on ULI’s Global Awards for Excellence.

Spotlighting and honoring successful projects can inspire subsequent ones, Kim noted. ULI, a non-profit organization supporting responsible land use, fosters the exchange of ideas and best practices.

Event materials show ULI Houston’s 2020 winners in five categories, plus a People’s Choice:


The For-Profit Award  (for projects larger than 100,000 square feet) recipient was Bank of America Tower, by Skanska USA Commercial. Citations mentioned it being the first LEED Platinum v4 core and shell certification in the U.S. and its wide variety of first-class amenities. Its 30,000-square-foot public space and culinary market, Understory, has “changed the fabric of downtown life,” by offering tenants – all of downtown, in fact – a place to meet, collaborate and eat.

The design team also included architects Gensler, PDR, Michael Hsu Office of Architecture; OJB Landscape Architecture; and Skanska USA Building general contractor.

Photo courtesy of Urban Land Institute and Main & Co.

The For-Profit Award (for projects smaller than 100,000 square feet) recipient was Main and Co., by NewForm Real Estate and Zimmerman Interests. Restored and repurposed, the Main and Commerce Exchange property reintroduced activity to a “once-derelict block” downtown. And in an arc of tenant use, the building once home to some of the oldest enterprise in Houston – cotton and shipping – now sports two future-focused tech companies with global presence.

The project team included architects Paradigm Design and Main Street Construction general contractor.


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The Heritage Award recipient was The Jones on Main, a redevelopment and repositioning by Lionstone Investment and Midway of downtown’s iconic 1929 Gulf Building developed by Jesse H.

Photo: Urban Land Institute and The Jones on Main

Jones. The reboot upgraded the office space but kept the property’s historical features, such as the great banking hall, frescos and multi-modal access.

In adding Finn Hall, a food hall, the project brought some buzz to downtown’s evolution into a more 24/7 environment. (The Finn Hall is named after legendary Houston architect Albert Charles Finn, who met Jesse Jones when Finn supervised construction of the Rice Hotel in 1913.)

The project team included AMB Architects, Gensler, PGAL and Streetsense; OJB Landscape Architecture; and general contractors Harvey Builders, Hoar, Rogers-O’Brien, and Trademark.


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Photo courtesy of Urban Land Institute and New Hope Housing and Star of Hope Cornerstone Community

The Not-for-Profit Award recipient was New Hope Housing and Star of Hope’s Cornerstone Community by New Hope Housing and Star of Hope.

The 48-acre campus of emergency and transitional services, education and housing supports homeless single women and single-parent families.

The property, noted for its courtyards, includes affordable rental housing. It is a community that anchors the community in which it sits.

The project team included GSMA Inc. and Kirksey Architecture; landscape architects Clark Condon and Kudela & Weinheimer, with Camden Builders Inc. and Tellepsen.

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The Open Space Award – and also the People’s Choice Award— recipient was Midtown Park, by Midtown Redevelopment Authority through a partnership with Camden Property Trust. The park, envisioned 20 years ago and now culminated, transformed a tract of land into a vibrant, urban park ringed by multi-family development.

Photo courtesy of Urban Land Institute Houston and Midtown Park

The combo of amenities, recreation, events and programming reaches well beyond adjacent residents and businesses to the community at large.

The project team included Urban Architecture; landscape architect Design Workshop; and Millis Development and Construction.

Once selected by a nomination panel of Houston real estate leaders, award finalists were reviewed and visited by a jury of national real estate experts, including Emma West, partner at Bousfield Inc. in Toronto; Heidi Kimball, senior vice president of Sunbelt Holdings in Scottsdale; and Dan Govan, associate, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris in Oklahoma City.

Other finalist projects included Camden McGowan Station by Camden Property Trust, Midway’s Kirby Grove Office, Avenue Place/Avenue Terrace by Avenue; Milby High School by Houston Independent School District; and Evelyn’s Park by Evelyn’s Park Conservancy.

Feb. 7, 2020 Realty News Report Copyright 2020

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