Apartments and retail rising from urban site
Construction has started on a mixed-use district just west of downtown that’s been several years in the making. Yet the ultimate vision for the project is still in flux.
Houston retail developer Gulf Coast Commercial Group purchased the roughly 21-acre property south of Interstate 10 between Sawyer and Studemont in summer 2015 and later said it was planning to build a big box retail center in which the stores would be stacked, a rare concept for Houston where land is plentiful and density isn’t generally the preferred style of development, even in urban settings.
The retail plan did not come together, however, and Gulf Coast sold five acres to an apartment developer and designed a more traditional retail center for a portion of the site.
“If you lose a piece of the puzzle, it all comes tumbling down,” Patrick Egan, Gulf Coast vice president of development said, referring to the stacked proposal. “It’s kind of like playing Jenga.”
Trammel Crow Residential has started construction on the apartments, which are going up on the southeast corner of the site. Gulf Coast is also building a shopping center adjacent to the existing Kroger at 1440 Studemont. Total Wine and Ulta Beauty have signed leases for the space. A second retail building is planned for the site, which has been branded as Lower Heights District.
The remaining acreage is on the east side of the property.
“That’s where the densification comes in,” Egan said, referring to possible plans for an office building, additional retail and more apartments.
Gulf Coast paid $40 million for the site in 2015. The previous owner, Texas Tile Manufacturing, a North American subsidiary of France-based Tarkett, had occupied the property since 1930. More than 750,000 square feet of industrial space there has since been demolished.