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Memorial City Mall

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March 23, 2005, 11:14PM

At Memorial City, a lifestyle in development

Project will surround mall with residences, offices

By DAVID KAPLAN and NANCY SARNOFF

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THIS is &*(*()#&)#ing AWESOME! I mean..200 acres of prime mid rise development..plus the 37 acre Town& Country development, which will be similar...This makes the Pavillion replacement Project look puny in comparison!

OH, and there is a referecne to the Aramore in Buckhead. Here is a pic:

3034526_0.jpg

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THIS is &*(*()#&)#ing AWESOME!  I mean..200 acres of prime mid rise development..plus the 37 acre Town& Country development, which will be similar...This makes the Pavillion replacement Project look puny in comparison!

yes.......... and being done all while the Katy Freeway is being reconstructed. It'll need to be its own city cause you won't be able to drive anywhere else!

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I would be a little more excited about this development if it wasn't centered around a shopping mall, but nevertheless it looks like a good project.

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I would be a little more excited about this development if it wasn't centered around a shopping mall, but nevertheless it looks like a good project.

I have to tell you that Metro National is very impressive. What they have done to that area is nothing bust spectacular. I had an opportunity to go to work for them a few years back. I declined the offer because I did not want to work as a property manager. Part of me wishes I would have sucked it up and worked my way into the development side. But that is my problem.

Metro National recently bought the land by One Briarlake Plaza at BW8 and Briar Forrest. The story is that they plan to build a nice retail site their.

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Man, this is great news. I just finished reading it on Houston Chronicle. This is really great news, and I'm loving it. I've been to Memorial City Mall once two months ago, and it was great. They still had some areas still under construction, but my stay there was great. I like the huge brick fireplace in the middle, with a lounge area, and the NHL size hockey rink.

I really do like the area the mall is at. It reminds me of the galleria area.

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Great!!!, This can be another great urban center in Houston. It appears developers are deciding to build a little more up and compact that large strip centers. I don't know if it is planned, but they could remove some parking around the mall and build another garage. This could make the development a little more dense.

This area seems to be hitting a great revival in the retail sector.

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March 23, 2005, 11:14PM

At Memorial City, a lifestyle in development

Project will surround mall with residences, offices

By DAVID KAPLAN and NANCY SARNOFF

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

Metro-National plans to spend up to $700 million on new development along either side of its Memorial City Mall.

When it's completed, what will the firm have?

"A city," said Wayne Hays, Metro-National's president and chief operating officer.

Complementing the existing mall and health care complex will be midrise residential units, a luxury hotel, an office building, townhomes, an amphitheater, movie theater, restaurants, 350,000 square feet of retail space and pocket parks.

The project will feature multiple skywalks, connecting major buildings, stretching about a mile across the site.

Construction is expected to begin within 30 days and continue for seven years.

After spending $60 million within the last 90 days on multiple acquisitions in the vicinity, MetroNational now owns 200 contiguous acres of Memorial City in west Houston.

The proposed development will be on two tracts of land, one west of Memorial City Mall, called the "gateway tract," and the other on the east side, called the "lifestyle tract." In addition to the acquired tracts, the original land will undergo improvements.

The first project will be a six-story professional office building on the gateway tract. Then, in six months, construction will begin on the lifestyle tract for a high-end five-story to eight-story residential building with retail at street level. It will be modeled after the Aramore complex in the Buckhead area of Atlanta.

Because of the road work slated for Interstate 10, MetroNational will do its initial construction on the rear side of the two tracts. Some retail experts fear that MetroNational's new project, coupled with another large development proposed for a site nearby, could create an oversupply of retail space in the market.

Town & Country Mall, at the southeast corner of the Katy Freeway and Beltway 8, is being demolished to make way for an open-air development that will feature many of the same elements MetroNational is planning, including retail space. Houston-based Midway Cos., the developer, said it will begin site work on the 37-acre project this fall.

'Full potential'

And Memorial City Mall still has some vacancies to fill. There's also a likelihood that Lord & Taylor will close its Memorial City location, as its parent shutters stores around the country.

"What's already built out there has not reached its full potential yet," said Blake Tartt III, president of realty firm New Regional Planning. "I think they have to be very careful that they don't overbuild the market."

Others say there's lots of room for more shops and restaurants in this heavily dense area surrounded by affluent Memorial neighborhoods.

"There's plenty of room in the area for specialty retail, lifestyle retail and things like theaters and restaurants," said Edward Page of Page Partners, a real estate brokerage firm that will be leasing MetroNational's "non-mall" retail space.

Hays is bullish on Memorial City. He noted that before his company spent $200 million to renovate Memorial City Mall, the mall was getting less than $200 per square foot, and after the remodeling, it's gone north of $400.

Many local developers would shy away from creating office and hotel space because of the sluggish market.

"While others are waiting for things to turn, it gives us an opportunity to act," Hays said.

MetroNational decided to build a hotel, because there is a community need for it, partly because of the medical complex, Hays said. The company is in discussions with several major flagship hotels.

John Keeling, a hotel analyst with PKF Consulting, said upscale hotels are attracted to outdoor lifestyle centers because guests can walk outside and be surrounded by shops and restaurants.

Several restaurants are planned for the development: Denis' Seafood House and Ciro's Italian Grill, already under construction, and a Perry's Steakhouse & Grill.

'Private club feeling'

In 30 days, MetroNational will begin construction on an upscale steakhouse with "a private club feeling" on the lifestyle tract, Hays said.

MetroNational developed the concept. The company created and ran the Saltgrass Steakhouse chain until it was soldto Landry's Restaurants 2002.

A "unique grocery component," possibly multilevel with structured parking, will eventually be added, Hays said.

The 700-seat amphitheater will pose several architectural challenges, Hays said, including how to make the surrounding area most functional during the day.

Another challenge will be providing good acoustics with the amphitheater positioned near Interstate 10.

"It's smart of them to try to create a sense of place" with amenities like the amphitheater and pocket parks, said Richard Hodos, president of Madison HGCD, a New York-basedretail real estate and brokerage firm.

A sort of 'zoning'

Over the past several decades, planners have become more sensitive to what people want in a setting that combines living, shopping and entertaining, he said.

Cooper Carry, the architect for the project, is reputable and known to be sensitive to creating pleasing, human-scale pro-jects, Hodos said.

"Hopefully, by the time the project is over, the bean counters won't have chopped off too much of the original idea,"Hodos said. Drastic cost-cutting happens a lot with big projects.

MetroNational won't cut corners, Hays said, because the company is not about buying and flipping property. Rather, it aims to create "a premier lasting community," he said.

Tartt said it's important to note the amount of land Metro-National now controls in the area.

"There's no one else in Houston, Texas, that controls 200-plus acres of contiguous commercial land," he said.

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I kind of have mixed feelings about this. The location is poor - the Katy Fwy. really can't stand the additional traffic burden, and the neighborhood doesn't have sufficient connecting cross-streets to handle additional traffic either. I would much rather see mega-developments like this built downtown or in other areas with appropriate infrastructure and better traffic flow.

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I would much rather see mega-developments like this built downtown or in other areas with  appropriate infrastructure and better traffic flow.

Thankyou. Houston is becoming another LA with all these attractions not situated around downtown.

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Metro-National plans to spend up to $700 million on new development along either side of its Memorial City Mall.

When it's completed, what will the firm have?

"A city," said Wayne Hays, Metro-National's president and chief operating officer.

A city? What in ignorant, inbred, moronic, laughable thing to say. Really. What an idiot.

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Maybe land owners in Midtown want to much for their properties.

Also, remember that this developer is the one who owns the mall itself. It's just probably easier to work near there anyway. The community there has already seen what they did to the mall, now they'll do some more.

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March 23, 2005, 11:14PM

At Memorial City, a lifestyle in development

Project will surround mall with residences, offices

By DAVID KAPLAN and NANCY SARNOFF

I think it is reasonable to say that the Katy Freeway expansion empowered this project to happen. With the existing facility, I don't think the Memorial project would have moved foward due to chronic congestion and accessibility issues.

Let's face it, everyone doesn't want to be downtown and it is great for people to have choices. Overall, I think this is the first vindication of the Katy Freeway as an economic development tool, and I'm sure more will come.

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Good point MaxConcrete.

The new ramp alignments will help ease congestion in the area unlike the current outdated configuration.

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Amen! I am so excited about this.

A "unique grocery component," possibly multilevel with structured parking, will eventually be added, Hays said.

Ooooh. B) Any takers on which one?

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Maybe land owners in Midtown want to much for their properties.

Also, remember that this developer is the one who owns the mall itself.  It's just probably easier to work near there anyway.  The community there has already seen what they did to the mall, now they'll do some more.

THey also own the office buildings behind the Mall (probably 1 million + SF) as well as all the Professional Office space across Gessner. Not evey deal is suitable for downtown and quit frankly the demographics prove this point.

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Hold on..is this still in the Houston City Limits?

Anyway..back to this project. In the Chronicle, there is a pretty spiffy rendering on the front part of the Business section, so maybe y'all should go and pick up a copy to check it out.

Now, this area will REALLY be a nice retail/living corridor, especially once the Katy FW is expanded, since we'll have this project (200 acres-with possibly several thousand residential units) the Town& Country project, as well as any other developments that may be spawned due to the existance of this one (maybe a few high rise residences, mid rise residences along gessner/memorial, etc.) Don't forget the fact that Westchase is nearby, with its potential to house many residents, and If I am not mistaken, in the direct demographic area of this thing.

Hopefully, the developer will connect this new place to the mall properly (by building over a few of the parking lots, and putting in a few garages).

The thing that pisses me off slightly is the fact that the biggest and best development so far is like...15 miles west of Downtown/midtown. Oh well. Still, I like the style, and this is truly something new and revolutionary for our great city.

Does anyone smell victory?(if you know what I mean) :P

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The level of stupidity that these people display is astounding and quite frankly I'm considering moving out of this place.

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The level of stupidity that these people display is astounding and quite frankly I'm considering moving out of this place.

I agree. It's pretty frustating. This project does not promote urbanism. Urbanism is created when everything else around it is to a similar scale. That's why the CVS is midtown is so horrible.

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You sure do gripe about everything.  Why the negativety.

I was going to say the same thing. Pretty much every post from LTAWACS reflects pessimism. When it is outside of Houston, it is sprawl. When it is inside Houston, it is bad still. Hey man, just be happy with what you got. I would rather choose "have" over "have not". I believe this development is pretty exciting.

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I have to agree with some that LTAWACS says. It seems like developers never get the point around here, and then they never realize why the city never gets a good rep. There are so many developments that could have changed the face of the city if they were more centralized, but people who do not appreciate urbanism would never know this.

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The thing that pisses me off slightly is the fact that the biggest and best development so far is like...15 miles west of Downtown/midtown.

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Remember that population center is a mathematical calculation. Houston's population is lopsided with more emphasis on the west and north. This would pull the center to probaly the area you mentioned.

Some developers may use this to locate their commercial in an area that can be acess the most people. With the traffic on the Beltay and Katy, the Memorial City location seems like a prime location.

The same concept developed the Galleria Area. Uptown was population center when it began its growth considering most of the population stretched from downtown to Sharpstown. This would put the Galleria in center.

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I think it is reasonable to say that the Katy Freeway expansion empowered this project to happen. With the existing facility, I don't think the Memorial project would have moved foward due to chronic congestion and accessibility issues.

Let's face it, everyone doesn't want to be downtown and it is great for people to have choices. Overall, I think this is the first vindication of the Katy Freeway as an economic development tool, and I'm sure more will come.

Plus, just look at it from a pure economic standpoint. You have the Memorial Villages with plenty of free money to spend a block away basically. Plus, all other areas from the Beltway to West Houston seem to be seeing strides in appraised values. This is true along the Memorial drive corridor to Addicks.

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Ahh finally I find out what this project was. I saw it fenced off while driving on the access road next to it. It really interested me because the tract I saw was so huge!

Im glad something good is coming out of it rather than a huge box store.

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I don't know why anyone would be surprised about this news or, further, be that upset about it. Houston has a pattern of doing this, it's kinda what makes us so "atypical" from any other major city.

Memorial City and the Town & Country area have been establishing/re-inventing themselves for a long time in order to be ready for this kind of growth. I don't think Houston is ever going to have the "City Center" that most metropolitan areas do, for the simple reason that it never has before; and people here, for the most part, have been okay with that. Granted, it would be nice to see Downtown and Midtown get the credit they deserve and really begin to hop. I think it is happening but it is just really super slow.

A recent Urban Land Institute study indicated a resurgence in higher-density urban living provided certain amenities are addressed for the consumer. These include:

Growing popularity of an urban lifestyle for both the empty nester AND the young professional.

A saturation of no-personality, homogenous retail in the suburbs.

The growing appeal of pedestrian-friendly, street-front retail among consumers.

A decline in city crime.

A desire to have varied amenities clustered in a tight, architecturally controlled project that answer consumers

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I am SO GLAD this is happening! I don't live anywhere near Memorial City Mall but occassionally I go there and when something that makes the city look more beautiful I am all for it!

I am just glad its not (as someone said "another box Store")

I mean walkways, businesses, retails, a city within a city (kinda like Bellaire) this is EXCITING! :)

It could have been the other way around and the area could have gone downhill. If they improve Westwood areas/Sharpstown I am all up for that too.

After all look at West Oaks mall. It WAS pathetic and more and more shoppers are going there because the mall is beautiful (even though more and more stores can't afford the rent) :(

We have some more upper class stores in there now. Taco Cabana is leaving West Oaks and now enters "Dairy Queen", Carlton cards is gone but here comes another "oh great" -sarcastically saying- clothes store. Kay-bee is now gone as well (I don't know what is in its place)

Look at the area around West Oaks and its developed too.

Instead of seeing something to front upon, look at the good side of it and see that it increased jobs, it makes that area even more beautiful and more places to go shop! :)

People around Memorial (well some people) have money and will be happy to spend it in the memorial city area. :)

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My guess is that they're priming themselves to be a stop on the commuter/heavy rail that will be coming down the pike at some point in the future.

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..then please do. All you do is delicate flower & moan about sprawl. :rolleyes: Its old, and no one cares. So let it go, or make good on your thread and move.. to Dallas. :o

Dallas? YAY! Even more sprawl!

My guess is that they're priming themselves to be a stop on the commuter/heavy rail that will be coming down the pike at some point in the future.

And increase the I-10 R.O.W. to 700'? Yeah, right.

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I'm not even sure why sprawl is an issue. This is Memorial City reinventing what's already there. There IS no sprawl!

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Sigh. Can someone explain to me why this isn't in downtown or Midtown?

Because thats the only place in the city of Houston where you can still find that much land all togeather.

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And increase the I-10 R.O.W. to 700'?  Yeah, right.

What do you mean? all I'm saying is that if a rail line ends up along i-10 in the future, it would make sense to have a stop at memorial city, esp. if this development goes up. maybe one out at that Katy Town Center too, which breaks ground later this month, btw.

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BUT..where will they get the Right of Way land from? They already spent several billion dollars buying out homes and businesses for the I-10 expansion, and a commuter rail tract would require an additional R.O.W. of at least 25' or more, so they might have to buy out waaay too many tracts for a transit system that will barely handle 1/10th of the traffic that I-10 can carry. I don't think rail is much of an option for this area.

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I'm mixed about this development. I think it's going to be fantastic for the area and for the New Urbanist movement in Houston. But, like many have said, this takes some steam away from inner city projects, especially in downtown.

All of this urban retail development outside of the urban core might really be doing an injustice to the city. I believe our shopping and gathering center should be centralized. Downtown is that place. It needs to be babied for a little while until it gets nursed back to health, but before long it could be THE place for everyone to go. It has the urban infrastructure unlike Memorial City. It is home to our sports teams, it's where the city began, it's where one can walk around easily. But, big "urban" projects in the 'burbs steal some of the momentum. We can only have so much retail in the city. If it's all focused on the fringes, we'll just continue to make it harder and harder to succeed downtown.

On another note, no matter how nice this project is, the San Felipe/Post Oak project will be nicer. The types of tenants and design should be first-rate (not to mention Ed Wulfe is the MAN). Not that Memorial City won't get its share of good tenants and good design, but, believe me, there's no place like San Felipe/Post Oak.

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Sprawl, sprawl, sprawl. Who the hell cares. People going to attend any new developments in or out the city. I think y'all need to read that article was on about sprawl in other cities, and around the world (somewhere on this site). Sprawl is going to continue to grow no matter what, so get use to it. I'm not complaining, cause I'm not a complainer like some people are.

I'll be there when it's get built.

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At least someone has a logical outlook when it comes to sprawl...i agree, its inevitable so we might as well get used to it and live with it...or in it lol

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I think it would be naive to believe that sprawl can be avoided given the increase in population and the quantity of available land. Dense urban centers came into being out of necessity because those cities had no choice. The history of many of the high-density cities that we see today, such as those in NE United States and Europe, predates the advent of automobile. It was therefore only logical to construct buildings in close proximity. Over time, those cities developed culture in which residents got accustomed to street life and high-density living. Moreover, the geographical sizes of some of those cities were limited by the amount of available land and geographical barriers. Even then, some such cities continued to expand in size to accommodate increasing population.

In contrast, Houston is a relatively new city that has experienced tremendous growth. There is plenty of land available, and there are no geographical barriers except in the east. Finally, it has no zoning laws to create artificial scarcity of land for specific uses. Sprawl is therefore inevitable.

Some people believe that anything outside of the loop is sprawl. However, would it be reasonable to believe that all of 6 millions people who reside in Houston could live inside the loop, that is, within an area of 100 sq miles? That amounts to 60,000 people per square mile! Do you really expect them to give up single-family homes to live in apartments just so that they can live inside the loop when there is so much land available nearby unlike, say, Hong Kong where residents have no other choice?

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Remember that population center is a mathematical calculation.  Houston's population is lopsided with more emphasis on the west and north.  This would pull the center to probaly the area you mentioned.

A mathematical calculation? Well what else did you think they would use? Of course it's a mathematical calculation. I have no idea why those foolish humans would even consider moving out there.

Downtown > *

And yes I am seriously thinking of transferring out of this city. I'm tired of all this nonsense.

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BUT..where will they get the Right of Way land from?  They already spent several billion dollars buying out homes and businesses for the I-10 expansion, and a commuter rail tract would require an additional R.O.W. of at least 25' or more, so they might have to buy out waaay too many tracts for a transit system that will barely handle 1/10th of the traffic that I-10 can carry.  I don't think rail is much of an option for this area.

My understanding was that the contraflow toll lanes that are soon to be in the middle of I-10 would eventually be turned into rail.

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