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East River: Mixed-Use Development By Midway


citykid09

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Huh, didn't realize that Buffalo Bayou had been worked so intensely previously. Always viewed the stretch between Shepherd and downtown as being pretty natural before the big renovation in the 2010s. 

But I suppose all those giant concrete culverts had to come from somewhere. Learn something new every day. Thanks, Wilcal!

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Went by East River 9 yesterday. Today the 9th, is the grand opening. It really is nice. They have great views of downtown, and there were several groups playing golf and a nice large bar and patio for dining and drinking. The bar has several big screens for sports.

FORE!

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The most recent Looped In podcast interviewed the Midway executive overseeing the development.

"We sit down with Midway vice president Anna Deans to discuss how Midway’s game-changing project will start to transform how Houstonians interact with this part of Buffalo Bayou and how the project could spark further changes in the East End. Deans also gives us all the updates and details on what’s next for East River, one of the most highly anticipated real estate developments underway in Houston now."

https://omny.fm/shows/looped-in/a-behind-the-scenes-look-at-east-river-one-of-hous

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I appreciated her being honest about the likely gentrification effects of the project. I think she's right that a large project like this - especially if they can ultimately get a full scale grocery store - can be as transformative of local income levels as it probably will be for local rents. But that could just as (/much more) easily not happen as happen. Based on what she said, it sounds like they're trying to be intentional about that, but while I'd love to see those efforts succeed, I remain skeptical.

Some things that could maybe help with that:

-Higher all-day frequencies for buses that connect ER to 5th & 2nd Ward neighborhoods (and/or a Jenson/Lyons rail or BRT line).

-More or a focus on protected bike routes from the north and south (plus bridges).

-For office tenants (and the Johnny Rhodes concept), partnerships with neighborhood schools (and the HCC campus on Drennan) to create (paid) internships for students.

-Make plaza space free or very cheap to book for food/market stalls.

-Include a variety short-term-leasing retail/service spaces, including for things like dance & exercise class studios. 

-Seems like a great place for a music school + instrument shop.

 

Obviously, Midway is under no obligation to do any of this. But it would make me happy if they did.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/6/2022 at 5:08 PM, __nevii said:

The lack of "bayoufront' development was a huge missed opportunity regarding the growth of Houston through the years. So I'm definitely looking forward to this project (and any precedent it sets).

they tried that about 100 years ago. Those buildings sank into the swamp. Then they rebuilt them. Those buildings sank into the swamp. Then they tried again. those buildings burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp.

 

But the fourth set..... that's what you see here.  :)

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8 hours ago, Tumbleweed_Tx said:

they tried that about 100 years ago. Those buildings sank into the swamp. Then they rebuilt them. Those buildings sank into the swamp. Then they tried again. those buildings burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp.

 

But the fourth set..... that's what you see here.  :)

Perhaps, though it depends on which sections they specifically made those earlier attempts. This "East River" section is larger/more riparian compared to the bayou sections west of downtown: so it should have better handle regarding any flood waters.

As mentioned before, I am looking forward to seeing how this development goes, as it can set good precedent. I remember reading a document a few years back regarding the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, how their plans for revitalization went as far east (so far) as "Constitution Bend" (i.e. Magnolia Park neighborhood).

Edited by __nevii
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18 hours ago, __nevii said:

Perhaps, though it depends on which sections they specifically made those earlier attempts. This "East River" section is larger/more riparian compared to the bayou sections west of downtown: so it should have better handle regarding any flood waters.

As mentioned before, I am looking forward to seeing how this development goes, as it can set good precedent. I remember reading a document a few years back regarding the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, how their plans for revitalization went as far east (so far) as "Constitution Bend" (i.e. Magnolia Park neighborhood).

The comment you replied to is a Monty Python quote edited to fit this scenario. 

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4 hours ago, jmitch94 said:

The comment you replied to is a Monty Python quote edited to fit this scenario. 

🙃 yep I see it now. Looks like my age has gotten to me — the movie came out over two decades prior to my birth. There are some old movies that I watched, but apart from the scene with the "witch trial/duck", I've never seen Monty Python.

"... but if those buildings float in water, then they weight the same as a duck. If those buildings weigh the same as a duck, then they are made of wood. The buildings weigh the same as a duck. Therefore..."

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All kidding aside, this is always going to be a battle. Humans like to build next to rivers and bayous for functional and aesthetic reasons, but rivers hate to stay in their banks. They meander.  So this project will progress and we'll gain new bayou trails and nice views because we have the technology to do so, but there will be consequences. Bulkheads and embankment maintenance will be needed and there will be changes to the sediment deposition that no one can predict.

 

But I'm all for this project, do it. Just keep in mind that building along a bayou is never a one-and-done proposition. We should expect that there will be failures and that things will need to be redone from time to time. As a geoscientist I'm saying that the need to redo things in the future is a foreseeable event that needs to be planned for and budgeted. The need to make future changes are not "failures" per se, but rather just a cost of doing business.

 

So don't be surprised or too harsh on the developers when something big or small detaches and slides into the bayou during a high water event. Anyone who thinks that this can be prevented 100% is either an over-confident engineer and/or lacks a healthy respect for the power of water and nature to reshape our landscape.

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My understanding re: sewer smell is that the sewage mains are right under Clinton. Personally, I've never smelled it *all the time,* just some times, but I'm not there too often.

Interestingly myself and a few coworkers all live within a half mile of each other. Two of us are south of the bayou (including one right on the south bank), one is north. The guy on the north side smells it often too.

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I live just off of Clinton (at Sydnor) and the sewer does often vent at a specific place on Clinton.  It's from the manhole on the street, over the Main Sewer line, that you can see just at the lower left hand corner of Hindesky's last photo. It's a problem.  

The building pad in the photo is for Midway's East River offices, I believe.  I bet that they will ask the city to address the sewer gas issue.  It'll be a marketing problem. 

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On 12/18/2022 at 8:57 AM, toxtethogrady said:

It's looking very much like the site plans. What are the chances for H-E-B or another grocery to grab one of the retail spaces?

A Midway VP appeared on the Chron's " Looped In" podcast a few months ago. She answered first for grocers generally and then for H-E-B specifically. 

 VP: “We had conversions with all major grocers, and at this point they feel there aren’t enough rooftops to make it work.” 

Interviewer: " Come on, HEB." 

VP: (Laughs) "We’ve tried, a lot, and they’re not ready."

In another interview, a different Midway rep said the unique connectivity characteristics of close-in east end areas make it harder to attract certain brands. 

Edited by JClark54
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1 hour ago, JClark54 said:

A Midway VP appeared on the Chron's " Looped In" podcast a few months ago. She answered first for grocers generally and then for H-E-B specifically. 

 VP: “We had conversions with all major grocers, and at this point they feel there aren’t enough rooftops to make it work.” 

Interviewer: " Come on, HEB." 

VP: (Laughs) "We’ve tried, a lot, and they’re not ready."

In another interview, a different Midway rep said the unique connectivity characteristics of close-in east end areas make it harder to attract certain brands. 

Anyone want to take a stab at explaining why "unique connectivity characteristics of close-in" places would make an area less appealing? Is it the proximity to one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in the loop? Is it the area's total lack of competitors? The fact that the site is planned/expected to have citywide gravity? What am I missing?

Edited by 004n063
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2 hours ago, JClark54 said:

A Midway VP appeared on the Chron's " Looped In" podcast a few months ago. She answered first for grocers generally and then for H-E-B specifically. 

 VP: “We had conversions with all major grocers, and at this point they feel there aren’t enough rooftops to make it work.” 

Interviewer: " Come on, HEB." 

VP: (Laughs) "We’ve tried, a lot, and they’re not ready."

In another interview, a different Midway rep said the unique connectivity characteristics of close-in east end areas make it harder to attract certain brands. 

 

20 minutes ago, 004n063 said:

Anyone want to take a stab at explaining why "unique connectivity characteristics of close-in" places would make an area less appealing? Is it the proximity to one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in the loop? Is it the area's total lack of competitors? The fact that the site is planned/expected to have citywide gravity? What am I missing?

Better yet, anyone want to take a stab at explaining what "unique connectivity characteristics of close-in east end areas" is supposed to mean?

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The location can be a challenge to get to from downtown, Eado and East and 5th Ward, due to multiple & Problematic rail crossings, lack of direct streets.  If your coming West from I-10, from east down Navigation or Clinton, or down Jensen your good.  From elsewhere (where most of the money is)...I just gets complicated.  In the end, I just don't think that the demographics/average income levels are there yet...especially to justify a full scale HEB. It's all changing, and lots of roof tops are under construction or planned...connectivity issues are supposedly being addressed...but, for now, we wait.  I hope not for much longer.  I want it as much as anyone.  

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22 minutes ago, Naviguessor said:

The location can be a challenge to get to from downtown, Eado and East and 5th Ward, due to multiple & Problematic rail crossings, lack of direct streets.  If your coming West from I-10, from east down Navigation or Clinton, or down Jensen your good.  From elsewhere (where most of the money is)...I just gets complicated.  In the end, I just don't think that the demographics/average income levels are there yet...especially to justify a full scale HEB. It's all changing, and lots of roof tops are under construction or planned...connectivity issues are supposedly being addressed...but, for now, we wait.  I hope not for much longer.  I want it as much as anyone.  

I would assume that the main catchment would just be EaDo, Eastwood, 2nd Ward, and 5th Ward.  But that's a lot, no? I mean, Midtown Whole Foods seems to be doing well, and all it has is some of Midtown and some of Montrose...

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16 minutes ago, Urbannizer said:

They should reach out to Trader Joe’s. I can see that doing well here.

I agree.  Certainly would not require as much traffic as a full service grocery.  My understanding, however, is that TJ's has very strict demographic requirement for their locations.   That's not to say, that one of their stores would not be well received and utilized here...it would.  

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3 minutes ago, Naviguessor said:

I agree.  Certainly would not require as much traffic as a full service grocery.  My understanding, however, is that TJ's has very strict demographic requirement for their locations.   That's not to say, that one of their stores would not be well received and utilized here...it would.  

Am I crazy for wanting a Fiesta there?

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50 minutes ago, Naviguessor said:

The location can be a challenge to get to from downtown, Eado and East and 5th Ward, due to multiple & Problematic rail crossings, lack of direct streets.  If you’re coming West from I-10, from east down Navigation or Clinton, or down Jensen you’re good.  From elsewhere (where most of the money is)...I just gets complicated.  In the end, I just don't think that the demographics/average income levels are there yet...especially to justify a full scale HEB. It's all changing, and lots of roof tops are under construction or planned...connectivity issues are supposedly being addressed...but, for now, we wait.  I hope not for much longer.  I want it as much as anyone.  

Agreed, living downtown it’s not exactly easy getting over here, like 10 min drive even though on a map you’d think less than 5 min. And transit isn’t really an option. Selfishly I’d rather see a bigger grocery store come to downtown before other areas, and I would argue Houston should be focused on creating density within downtown and other existing neighborhoods first. I’m worried Midway will just turn this development into another citycentre, furthering the patchwork of sprawl that is Houston

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46 minutes ago, jhjones74 said:

Agreed, living downtown it’s not exactly easy getting over here, like 10 min drive even though on a map you’d think less than 5 min. And transit isn’t really an option. Selfishly I’d rather see a bigger grocery store come to downtown before other areas, and I would argue Houston should be focused on creating density within downtown and other existing neighborhoods first. I’m worried Midway will just turn this development into another citycentre, furthering the patchwork of sprawl that is Houston

Its' def going to become it's own CityCentre style development but there's a major difference between CityCentre in far west Houston and this project. I've always complained that a development like CityCentre should have been built closer to Downtown or even Midtown. The areas surrounding Downtown should look like East River, that's what you ultimately want. All of the new development up to this point in this part of town has been urban and dense. I don't see that changing anytime soon. 

Edited by j_cuevas713
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