Note: I drafted this before I left on Thursday so I'd have something interesting to post that wouldn't take much time to do.
The Stables Steak House at 7325 S. Main was sold to a investment partnership this week, marking the imminent end to a piece of Houston history. The sales price was not disclosed.
The buyer, Eastbourne Main Greenbriar LP -- a partnership between Houston-based Wellington Development Co. and Williamsville, N.Y.-based Eastbourne Investments -- purchased the restaurant as part of a land assemblage effort, with plans to sell the tract to a developer in the future.
Alan Guggenheim originally opened The Stables restaurant in the early 1950s, and sold it to Jay Mulvey and Alex Prati in the early 1980s.
The Wellington/Eastbourne partnership purchased the restaurant from Mulvey and Prati on Oct. 17.
Wellington principals Rocky Stevens and Chris Hotze realize that they purchased a piece of history.
"It's a Houston landmark," Hotze says.
If the names Wellington and Chris Hotze are ringing a bell for you, it's because they're the same folks that are planning to develop the southeast corner at Montrose and West Dallas. Nothing has happened there more than six months after the deal was announced, however, so don't hold your breath on this one, either.
While Stables fans may mourn the eatery's closing, the change in ownership marks a shift in real estate values near the ever-expanding Texas Medical Center.
The purchase price on the restaurant -- which sits on a half-acre of land -- was not released, but sources say land in the area sells for $80 to $100 per square foot. That would put the price between $1.7 million and $2.2 million.
The Stables site is only one piece of a complicated real estate puzzle that has taken almost a year to pull together.
Eastbourne Main Greenbriar LP this week also acquired the Bermuda Apartments, which sit on a quarter-acre of land at 1928 N. Braeswood. The 12-unit complex was sold by a consortium of physicians led by Dr. Garabed Eknoyan.
In addition, the partnership purchased a quarter-acre vacant tract in December 2005 that was formerly home to the Red Lion restaurant.
Together, the three adjacent properties give the buyers a full acre just outside of the Medical Center, which has some of the highest-priced land in the city.
Retail expert Blake Tartt III has fond memories of eating at The Stables with his grandparents when he was young, but says the high cost of real estate in that area has made the restaurant functionally obsolete.
"It's the last small tract in the Medical Center to buy," says Tartt, president of New Regional Planning Inc.
The buyers have no immediate plans for the land, but know that the property has more value now that it has been assembled into a larger tract.
"We've acquired a crucial one-acre parcel in the Med Center area, which is hard to do," Hotze says.
[Frank Egan, president of Eastbourne Investments,] says when it comes time to market the land to developers, who will likely want to go vertical with residential or medical buildings, the sales price will probably be in the range of $150 or more per square foot.
"It's very difficult to acquire any sizable piece of land that's well-located in the Medical Center," Egan says. "It's a pretty rare commodity, so we don't know what it will go for."