On Tuesday, residents there were told that the Boston-based real estate firm that has owned the complex for two decades plans to turn the 24 acres of prime land into Regent Square, a mixed-use urban village housing apartments, condominiums, shops and a boutique hotel.
For Houston, known for its suburban sprawl, Regent Square will be something different: an open, walkable neighborhood for living, working, shopping and dining.
The developer, GID Urban Development Group, a division of the General Investment and Development Cos., has hired seven architecture firms to design the project.
GID owns 12,000 apartment units nationally.
The first phase, scheduled to start construction in September and to be completed in 2010, will offer 740 apartment units, 230,000 square feet of retail, 60,000 square feet of office space and a hotel on two city blocks.
A future phase of the project GID hopes to complete by 2014 could have 1,000 more residential units, including three condominium towers, more apartments and another 100,000 square feet of retail space.
John Darrah, vice president, GID Urban Development Group, said he hopes to create a "symbiotic relationship" with nearby River Oaks Shopping Center to encourage shoppers to visit both districts on the same trip.
Regent Square will be bordered on the north by Allen Parkway, south by West Clay, east by Dunlavy and west by Tirrell.
A mixed-use project like Regent Square goes against the conventional wisdom of Houston developers, said Michael Swartz, a project manager at David M. Schwarz/Architectural Services, the Washington, D.C., firm that is doing the master plan.
"In Houston, there's a mind-set of: You make your return on investment in three years," but with Regent Square, Swartz said, "you have an owner who's committed to a project for a very long term. They've owned the property for 20 years and expect to keep it for 20 years or more.
"An early exit strategy wouldn't work with a project like this."
"I think it will be very exciting for the northern end of Montrose. The design, from what I saw, is really very exciting," said Sue Lovell, at-large city council member.
The city will likely have to grant variances for the project, she said. It will look at potential negative effects from the new development, such as more traffic congestion.
"The beauty of their project is there's a lot of entrances and exits, as opposed to other projects in Montrose sending lots of traffic out one way into very busy streets," she said.
I'll keep an eye on this one. It'll be nice to have a project now that the Robinson Warehouse demolition is basically done.Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 25, 2007 to Elsewhere in Houston