HOUSTON – (Realty News Report) – Acho Azuike is chief operating officer and managing partner of DC Partners, a Houston-based development firm. In that capacity, he manages DC Partners’ real estate development and investment activities, including compliance with all EB-5 program requirements. One of DC Partners’ projects, The Allen, is currently being built on Allen Parkway, just outside downtown Houston. And the firm just opened a hotel/condo tower on the Riverwalk in San Antonio and it is developing a 7-story office/retail project near Loop 610 in Houston.
Azuike was a guest on THE RALPH BIVINS PROJECT, a new podcast published by Realty News Report.
Here is an excerpt of Azuike’s appearance on THE RALPH BIVINS PROJECT:
Ralph Bivins: The Allen is an almost $500 million, mixed-use development that will include office, hotel and condominium components. What’s going on with that project, which broke ground in November of 2019?
Acho Azuike: We’re excited about The Allen. Currently, we are working on Phase 1 which will be a retail pavilion of about 62,000 SF. We have a 170-room hotel in the works along with 100 condominium units in The Residences at The Allen. We are excited about bringing in a major hotel brand, Thompson, which is a great name. We feel it will fill a void in the Houston hotel market. The Thompson was just acquired by Hyatt. It will be a luxury boutique hotel. We are excited about being on Allen Parkway and bringing in all this retail. The city of Houston has put a lot of work and investment into the Buffalo Bayou in that area. We want to be able to complement that and make sure what the city did goes to good use. The project will include a four-story retail building, it will be retail all the way up to a rooftop bar and restaurant.
Ralph Bivins: It’s right across from Buffalo Bayou Park, which is fantastic around there.
Acho Azuike: Overlooking the park, that’s exciting stuff. We started presales of our condos in 2019, and we began to see a lot of interest, even during the pandemic. We are looking at our projects built in the past and learning from them. We have started adding more penthouse opportunities. People are looking to downsize from mansions, but they still want the space, and they want to fit their stuff in. One of the most critical things we learned is that people have pets, and they want to take their pets to the condos. We have installed “porch potties” so people can take their pets out onto the patio – they don’t have to walk all the way downstairs. So, we’re very excited about this. We just want to keep taking what we’ve learned from our past projects and make each new project better.
Ralph Bivins: Not to get too personal, but how much does a penthouse at The Allen cost?
Acho Azuike: This is the good thing. We have different levels of penthouses, full floors, half-floors – depending on what views you want. We are trying to bring that type of dynamic to Houston. You look at New York and Chicago and they have so much more of a condo inventory. Actually, Houston is starting to get a lot more people from out of town who are looking to buy here, and they feel the prices are affordable.
Ralph Bivins: What is the price of your biggest penthouse going to be?
Acho Azuike: The high millions; seven or eight million, something like that. Some buyers pay cash, but the good thing is that people can come in right now and put down an earnest money deposit, then they don’t have to complete the payment until the project is finished.
Ralph Bivins: Looking at the history of Houston, Gerald Hines wanted four levels for the Galleria. His partners didn’t want it, and they settled for three stories. How will you get customers to go to the fourth floor?
Acho Azuike: That’s a great question. I think for us there are certain tenants that like that kind of thing, like Suit Supply. They want to be on the second story, they want to be a destination. This will be more of a statement piece for the project. The design architecture of the exterior will attract people in. We’re using a unique, shape-shift material — a material with a spacey, futuristic look to it. On the first floor, we are looking at retail, but more restaurant-type uses. For the second and third floor, we are looking at fitness components. The second and third floor could be one tenant. The rooftop will be another destination. That could also be one tenant. If I’m going to the rooftop, I’m going for the views. This is an easy sell for a tenant who wants to be there.
Ralph Bivins: When is the anticipated completion?
Acho Azuike: The retail pavilion should be substantially finished in Q-2 this year. Tenants will be able to start working on their build-outs. The first tenants will be able to move in later this year or early next year. The condo tower should be completed by the end of next year, and the hotel opening is expected around the same time or the first quarter of 2023.
Ralph Bivins: I know the big deal on your agenda, the San Antonio hotel-condo project (The Arts Residences at the Thompson Hotel) on the Riverwalk. That’s some prime space in a major tourism spot. When is that due?
Acho Azuike:That’s why I’m here in San Antonio and why I’ll be here for a while. San Antonio opens Feb. 18. It was originally going to open late last year, but we moved it up because of the COVID pandemic. This is the first time we are getting into the hospitality business. We evaluated the project. We saw an opportunity on the Riverwalk, we did our due diligence. We found that the hotel market in San Antonio is better than in Houston because of the tourism and the conventions. We decided to build a Thompson Hotel. We took our expertise in the condo market and joined it in with the hotel development. We decided to build 60 condominiums. In hindsight, we wish we had done more. There are only four units left. The condominium owners will have a number of connections with the hotel. They’ll be able to live like they’re on vacation. The condos will have room service, access to the pool and cleaner, special programs with the hotel and cards for discounts. They will have their own separate entrance, either to feel separated from the hotel or integrated as part of the hotel.
(Edited for clarity.)
Feb 22, 2021 Realty News Report Copyright 2021
File: High-Rise Development with Acho Azuike of DC Partners