HOUSTON – (Realty News Report) – The Ion innovation hub – a redevelopment of the old Midtown Sears store – has gained its first tenant – Chevron.
The Art-Deco store, built in 1939 on Main Street near the old Delman Theater, is being transformed in the Ion, a collaborative-type of space that is supposed to nurture start-up companies and interaction with technology businesses and entrepreneurs, etc.
The former Sears store, 4201 Main Street, is part of a 16-acre urban assemblage owned by the massive Rice University endowment.
A redevelopment of the 300,000-SF building, started after Houston suffered the indignity of failing to make the Top 20 list of possible locations for Amazon’s HQ2, is being overseen by Rice Management Co., which handles real estate holdings in the university’s endowment portfolio.
“Our first tenant at The Ion is one of the most recognizable brands in the world,” said Ryan LeVasseur, Managing Director of Real Estate at Rice Management Company. “They’ll be the first of many companies, local startups, and business owners who make a home at and around The Ion as we continue to develop this groundbreaking, mixed-use space.”
Chevron signed a lease for some space in The Ion. But officials declined to specify the square footage of the lease – very much a rarity in the annals of real estate news coverage. The reluctance to disclose the size of the Chevron lease could be an indicator that it is quite small.
Chevron is leasing the space “for collaboration among Chevron teams, startup companies, and community organizations contributing to Houston’s innovation ecosystem. Chevron’s space will be led by the Chevron Technology Ventures group and will be available for all Chevron employees for networking, professional development, and opportunities to collaborate with other innovation ecosystem players,” said the Ion press release.
Chevron, which continues to be based in a California town called San Ramon, has thousands of employees in Houston, known as The Energy Capital of The World for many years.
“We have a long history in Houston with its role as the global energy capital. We believe The Ion will help to ensure that Houston retains that distinction and plays a leading role in the energy transition through innovation,” said Barbara Burger, president of Chevron Technology Ventures.
Founded 141 years ago, Chevron traces its corporate history to 1879 when Pacific Coast Oil Co. was created in California.
The Ion’s LEED-certified building in Midtown Houston is set to open in the Spring of 2021.
Hines is managing the redevelopment of the building. Design is by architects Gensler and James Carpenter. Commercial real estate veteran Drew Morris of Savills is leasing the project.
A considerable amount of construction has been completed. The multi-level Sears store is being opened up by basically by cutting out large portions of the interior floors, creating an atrium and allowing light into the heart of the building.
The redevelopment work stripped off the exterior’s metal sheath, which was installed as a bad 1960s remodeling, which degraded the Art Deco beauty.
When completed, the Ion says it will have “prototyping and immersive reality labs, 70,000 SF of public and shared spaces for event programming, business incubation and acceleration.”
The Midtown Houston Sears store closed the store in 2018, the year Sears Holdings filed Chapter 11. In the nation, fewer than 100 Sears remain in operation. One of the last Sears in Texas, located on North Shepherd Drive in Houston, is expected to close this summer.
So now, the Ion place of innovation will arise In Midtown and erased forever will be the Sears – the formerly dominant retailer where Houstonians shopped for clothes, Craftsman tools and Kenmore appliances.
Aug. 20, 2020 Realty News Report Copyright 2020
File: Chevron Leases Spot in The Ion
File: (2) Midtown Houston gets a new corporation as Chevron leases spot in The Ion.