CityCentre revs up in west Houston
CityCentre plans a spring 2010 grand opening, but sections of the project in the Memorial/Energy Corridor area are opening in phases. The development includes retail shops, offices, residential units and a hotel.
In Houston over the past several years there has been a lot of talk about mixed-use developments — walkable places where people can live, work, shop and be entertained.
A number had been planned for the city, but only a few have gotten off the ground.
The new CityCentre in west Houston may be the most fully realized example of the concept, according to Scott Shillings, president of Riverway Retail, a Houston-based retail/tenant representative.
He noted that CityCentre has the four main components of mixed-use: residential, retail, office and hotel. And it is a pure mixed-use development, he maintains, in that it isn’t adjacent to a mall. And unlike some other local mixed-use projects, CityCentre has retail anchors: a cinema and a huge fitness center.
“The term ‘mixed-use’ gets thrown around a lot, but, to me, this is the first time that Houston has actually seen it in its full depth and breadth,” Shillings said: “Architecturally and functionally, they’ve done a great job.”
However, like ever other development in Houston and the U.S., CityCentre must deal with a tough economy in which many national retailers aren’t expanding.
It will take longer than originally thought to fully lease it, said Jonathan Brinsden, chief operating officer of Houston-based Midway Companies, the developer of CityCentre, but he said he is confident it will flourish, partly because of its prime Memorial/Energy Corridor location.
CityCentre is opening in phases and will have a grand opening in the spring.
Located near Interstate 10 and Beltway 8, the 37-acre site houses clean-lined contemporary brick buildings, brick streets and pleasant landscaping.
CityCentre has an elegant luxury hotel, Hotel Sorella; a sleek movie theater, Studio Movie Grill; and Norris Conference Center.
CityCentre contains several residential projects: the recently opened 370-unit Domain apartments and 35-unit Brownstones at CityCentre, which are for sale.
The 250-unit apartment project the Lofts is set to open next month.
The top two floors of the new 244-unit Hotel Sorella, called Vista Maravilla, are for sale or lease. The Sorella is operated by Houston-based Valencia Group.
About 75 percent of CityCentre’s built office space has been leased, and 50 percent of its retail space is leased, Brinsden said.
Retail slow but sure
“CityCentre is one of the nicest, more unique projects in one of the strongest U.S. markets. It’s just going to take a while to get retail off the ground because of the economy,” said Jeff Green, president of Jeff Green Partners, retail feasibility consultants in Mill Valley, Calif.
Future CityCentre retail tenants include Anthropologie and Bailey Banks & Biddle.
One restaurant, Raw Sushi, has opened, and several more will make their debuts over the next few months. Alex Brennan-Martin will open two restaurants at the Sorella.
CityCentre is next door to Town & Country Village, which has a Randalls and numerous shops and restaurants.
Town & Country Village is a big benefit to CityCentre, said Anita Kramer, senior director of retail and mixed use development at the Urban Land Institute.
“You can build these places that are walkable but have no connection to anything else,” she said. “It’s very useful to the CityCentre residents” to be next to Town & Country Village.
Together, CityCentre and Town & Country Village will make the area more of a destination, said Ed James, managing director of Town & Country Village.
The Midway Companies purchased the former Town & Country Mall in 2004. After demolishing the mall and deciding to build a mixed-use project there, the company hired Gensler as its architect.
CityCentre has sought to bring tenants unique to Houston, Brinsden noted.
For example, the European-style Sorella is the first Valencia hotel in town, and a number of restaurants will make their Houston debuts. Life Time Athletic, a more upscale urban brand of Life Time Fitness, is the first of its kind in the U.S.