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Market Square Tower: 40-Story High-Rise For Downtown


Urbannizer

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"The leasing milestone, reached in December, shaved three months off Woodbranch Investments Corp.’s projected 15-month timeline and signals downtown is no longer limited to 9-to-5 office workers and theater goers. Bars and restaurants, food halls and parks are catering to a growing population, thanks to incentives provided by the Downtown Living Initiative.

“I really enjoy the way downtown is coming back,” Woodbranch Investments CEO Philip Schneidau said. “In the evening, people are walking around in Discovery Green, and Market Square Park. It’s really getting to be a nice neighborhood feel to it after hours, versus the business feel during the day.”

Downtown has grown to about 6,000 residential units, up from 2,500 at the start of 2014, according to the Central Houston and the Downtown District."

 

Almost goes without saying that the downtown living initiative really spurred some of these developments. What are the chances of there being a second round? 

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39 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

 

Hopefully, we have reached the point where a second round won't be necessary.  

 

Maybe, but I wonder how much the process would be accelerated if a second round were done. I don't really see a problem with pushing right to the tipping point, but I could be wrong.

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38 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

 

Hopefully, we have reached the point where a second round won't be necessary.  

 

Agreed.  I hope that if Aris fills up quickly, we will get another MSP area high-rise announcement soon.  One of Hines' spots, the Intl Tower spot, the lot next to the ballet center, and the lot with the chase bank drive through are all pretty key.

 

A bit further away, but I still think that the northeast corner of Main and Prairie could be a fantastic spot for a massive mixed-use project.

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2 hours ago, kbates2 said:

 

Agreed.  I hope that if Aris fills up quickly, we will get another MSP area high-rise announcement soon.  One of Hines' spots, the Intl Tower spot, the lot next to the ballet center, and the lot with the chase bank drive through are all pretty key.

 

A bit further away, but I still think that the northeast corner of Main and Prairie could be a fantastic spot for a massive mixed-use project.

 

This lot is my favorite undeveloped lot downtown right now. Hopefully a huge mixed use project gets built here as you mentioned.

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How much of the 32.9% vacancy has to do with The Catalyst, Alexan, Aris, Eighteen25, and 1711 Caroline just opening toward the end of last year? I can't imagine if downtown was doing so poorly that the new high rise across from Marriott Marquis and Camden's new high rise would have given their construction the green light. My balcony faces the Catalyst and I've noticed in the past month more people moving in so it will be interesting to revisit these numbers later in the year.

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https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2018/04/11/downtownhouston-s-tallest-residential-tower-to-add.html

 



Downtown Houston’s tallest residential tower is adding a restaurant to its mix.

Coterie will open this summer in a 1,500-square-foot space inside Market Square Tower, a 40-story apartment tower in downtown Houston, according to the press release. It’s the tower's second retail tenant announced so far. 

 

The release describes Coterie as “deliberately personal and uniquely Houston,” and it will “mirror the energy of downtown Houston’s resurgence.”

The concept's furniture and fixtures will be handmade in Italy, while locally sourced light fixtures will hang from 20-foot ceilings, per the release. The interior will be accented with leather, fabric, metal and wood. At the center of the restaurant, there will be a wine cellar where guests can walk in and select a bottle with their server. 

Additionally, the menu will offer a wide variety of dishes — from breakfast to late-night meals — that will include seasonal items.

 

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On 4/20/2018 at 1:47 AM, CrockpotandGravel said:

Website for Coterie opening at Market Square Tower at 737 Preston in Houston.

https://www.coteriehtx.com

 

I am confused...... your post is from April but the website is talking about a “soft open” and while it has a link for “menus”, there are no menus on the page.

 

is this place open? 

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3 hours ago, jmitch94 said:

Pretty standard CVS, unfortunately it closes pretty early. 

 

It doesn't close too early.  Still open on nights and weekends unlike the Main location.  I do agree it would be cool to have been 24 hours and REALLY cool if they had incorporated the fresh grocery/produce offerings that they said they would.  I still shop there weekly at least.

 

13 minutes ago, UtterlyUrban said:

I am confused...... your post is from April but the website is talking about a “soft open” and while it has a link for “menus”, there are no menus on the page.

 

is this place open? 

 

Yes it is open.  I am still not sure if they have had a "Grand Opening" but I have gone here and there for a few months.  When they have stuff it is good.  The pastry counter is often empty though and they will say they are out of stuff on the menu.  

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7 minutes ago, kbates2 said:

 

It doesn't close too early.  Still open on nights and weekends unlike the Main location.  I do agree it would be cool to have been 24 hours and REALLY cool if they had incorporated the fresh grocery/produce offerings that they said they would.  I still shop there weekly at least.

 

 

Yes it is open.  I am still not sure if they have had a "Grand Opening" but I have gone here and there for a few months.  When they have stuff it is good.  The pastry counter is often empty though and they will say they are out of stuff on the menu.  

Cool!  I will need to check it out!

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48 minutes ago, downtownian said:

 

It's high quality food and coffee. Went there for brunch and lunch. Seems like a hangout spot for people who live at MST.

 

Agreed that what I have had from there was very good when they had it.

 

Crazy enough - we have Honeymoon, Coterie, Cafe Firenze, Minuti, etc around and the best coffee that I have had is from our one dry goods store - The Tipping Point.  They have a setup in the front and sell coffee at weird hours but it is fantastic.

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11 hours ago, kbates2 said:

 

Agreed that what I have had from there was very good when they had it.

 

Crazy enough - we have Honeymoon, Coterie, Cafe Firenze, Minuti, etc around and the best coffee that I have had is from our one dry goods store - The Tipping Point.  They have a setup in the front and sell coffee at weird hours but it is fantastic.

 

I'll have to check that out. I think the best coffee in downtown is:

Prelude

Amaya

Boomtown

Coterie

 

 

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8 hours ago, nate4l1f3 said:

This building is no modern marvel but it definitely exceeded my expectations.  IIRC we never got a real detailed rendering of this building, so that may be why. 

 

Double-edged sword. It added a lot of residents to the neighborhood, which has helped lift the area. But it ensured that the western side of Market Square would not contribute to making a lively square, perhaps permanently. We are left trying to create a great square out of the other three sides. Time will tell if the south side becomes a contributor. If the proposed office tower is built there, it won't. The Preston is going to help, but it's hard to undo the damage of three curb cuts and hideous facades on the next block.

 

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On 9/13/2013 at 9:25 AM, Subdude said:

I remember that now.  The old bars on the Louisiana side of Market Square were demolished without notice late one night.  Not our city's proudest moment imo.

 

 

 

Here's photo evidence of this, taken in 81' with the buildings along Milam still up. 

 

30629722647_79a26a4f49_k.jpg1981-xx Dowtown Houston by Mark Navarro, on Flickr

 

Can also be seen in the background of this 76' photo (third block).

 

1976-06 Bismarck Restaurant on Preston in Houston

 

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On 7/3/2019 at 9:22 PM, Urbannizer said:

 

Here's photo evidence of this, taken in 81' with the buildings along Milam still up. 

 

30629722647_79a26a4f49_k.jpg1981-xx Dowtown Houston by Mark Navarro, on Flickr

 

Can also be seen in the background of this 76' photo (third block).

 

1976-06 Bismarck Restaurant on Preston in Houston

 

I read somewhere, I think in Ray Miller's Houston, that most everything on the blocks west of Market Square was produce markets, with the city market on Preston at the bayou (where Wortham is). I guess when the market left for Airline, all that stuff was wiped away for parking.

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Awesome news: Georgia James Tavern to open in Market Square Tower later this year. Sad to see Coterie go but I like Chris Shepherd's concepts:

https://houston.culturemap.com/news/restaurants-bars/01-06-21-chris-shepherd-new-restaurants-georgia-james-tavern-market-square-tower-wild-oats-houston-farmers-market-underbelly/#slide=0

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Houston's star chef dishes on a searing 2021, plus a hot new Montrose lounge

 
Jan 28, 2021, 10:40 am
On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," James Beard Award winner Chris Shepherd joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss his busy 2021. Shepherd's Underbelly Hospitality has big plans for the coming year, including winding up One Fifth, opening Georgia James Tavern in downtown's Market Square Tower, and opening a new restaurant as part of the renovations at the Houston Farmers Market. 

The conversation begins with Sandler congratulating the chef on his recent wedding to Lindsey Brown and a brief discussion of how the Southern Smoke Foundation has benefitted from celebrity chef David Chang's $1 million win on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. From there, the conversation turns to Georgia James Tavern with Shepherd describing some of the motivation for opening a more casual, affordable version of his signature steakhouse and why he chose the downtown high-rise for its first location.

Shepherd has been involved with the plans to renovate the Houston Farmers Market since the project was first announced in 2017. Todd Mason, his business partner in Underbelly Hospitality, is also a founding partner at MLB Capital Partners, the investment firm that purchased the market. Sandler asks Shepherd to describe what the experience at the renovated market will be like when it opens this summer.

"There's going to be over 500 parking spaces, a bunch of different retail, restaurants, and green space. Someplace you can go any day of the week and get lunch, get your meat, your fish, your bread for dinner over the next couple of days or go have dinner. That's the whole goal," Shepherd says.

"People are nervous it's not going to be what it was. It's not,  but it's going to be a rendition of what it was. In the '80s, it was different than what it was in the '40s."

The conversation concludes with Shepherd elaborating on his opinions about the role of influencers in the food world and providing an update on the Independent Restaurant Coalition's efforts to get components of the proposed RESTAURANTS Act into the Biden administration's new coronavirus relief package. 

Prior to the interview, local beverage consultant Linda Salinas joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: the Kirby Group's plans to open Buffalo Heights Bier Garten and Emma Jane Bakery on Washington Ave.; industry veteran Kerry Pauly opening a new bistro in the Memorial area; and West Coast favorite Dutch Bros. Coffee making a major push into Texas.

In the restaurants of the week segment, Salinas and Sandler describe their recent meal at The Nash, a new restaurant in downtown that serves steak, pizza, and other American fare. They also rave about 93 'Til, the new Montrose lounge where chefs Gary Ly and Lung Ly serve an eclectic array of small plates.

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  • The title was changed to Market Square Tower: 40-Story High-Rise For Downtown
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By Jeff Jeffrey  –  Reporter, Houston Business Journal 
6 hours ago
 

Rob Bridges is a man with a vision. 

As an asset manager with Houston-based Woodbranch Management, Bridges is overseeing a massive update of Market Square Tower, just four years after the building opened to residents. And Bridges’ plan for the 40-story apartment tower is nothing short of ambitious. 

He wants to take what was already a high-end, luxury multifamily project and turn it into something Houston has never seen before — a property that offers amenities on par with some of the finest hotels in the world. 

You say it, Bridges is considering it. Everything from a concierge service capable of tracking down hard-to-find concert tickets and booking reservations at the city’s finest restaurants to an on-site, chauffeur-driven Mercedes Maybach that tenants can take out on date night. 

“Our vision is to reestablish how to run a luxury high-rise building, so that it finally meets the needs of the clients who call Market Square Tower home," he said.

 

 

To achieve that vision, Woodbranch Management is pulling out all the stops. The company recently fired South Carolina-based Greystar as the property manager for Market Square Tower, opting to bring those services in-house. Additionally, the company did a complete overhaul of the team responsible for maintaining the building. Bridges said the company hired new resident services, maintenance, landscaping and cleaning crews to take over at Market Square Tower. 

All of these upgrades will cost millions of dollars — Woodbranch Management declined to put a price tag on the project — but Bridges said the cost is worth it to create an apartment environment unlike any other in Houston. 

In many ways, what Market Square Tower is trying to achieve is just the latest escalation in the ever-intensifying amenities arms race among Houston’s multifamily developers. 

“What you’re looking for is that ‘wow’ factor — the thing that residents didn’t even know they wanted but then can’t imagine living without once they see it,” said Kate Good, a principal in Houston-based Hunington Properties’ multifamily development and operations division.

Whatever it takes

 

The improvements to Market Square Tower’s amenities package truly aim to impress once they go live later this year. 

Woodbranch Management recently hired a new director of marketing and resident services, who has been charged with retraining all staff members who work with the building’s residents. Those employees will be responsible for responding to whatever requests residents have on an around-the-clock basis, including valet service, delivering packages to residents’ door and scheduling tee times at local golf courses.

The building, located at 777 Preston Street downtown, scored a coup last month when it announced renowned Houston chef Chris Shepherd had signed on to open Georgia James Tavern in the building, replacing Coterie, which opened on the ground floor of the 40-story tower in 2018 and closed in September 2020.

Georgia James Tavern will be a more casual offshoot of the acclaimed Georgia James steakhouse in Montrose. But Bridges said the goal was to land a restaurant that would generate a buzz around the building, with the eventual goal of offering a room service capability to the building’s residents. 

Market Square Tower, developed by Woodbranch Investments Corp., is a 40-story, 463-unit luxury apartment tower in downtown Houston.

“When we spoke with Chris Shepherd, he immediately got what we’re trying to do, which is take all of the best things about a resort hotel and offer them in a multifamily setting,” Bridges said. “Having an amazing restaurant is a key part of that, so we couldn’t be happier to be partnering with Chris.”

As for Coterie, Bridges said the restaurant was fine, but he envisioned having a well-known elite restaurateur for Market Square Tower.

“We took what had been a traditional high-rise restaurant and elevated it to a four-star one that is one of the best restaurants in Houston,” Bridges said. “That’s our vision: We want everything we do and everything we offer to be the absolute best. We want to be the Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton of multifamily.”

Market Square Tower’s high-end retail offerings don’t stop there. 

Bridges is in the process of leasing other retail spaces in the building to a full-service pet care and boarding company, and to a day spa and massage studio. 

“By having those businesses in our retail spaces, we’ll be able to offer our residents a significant break on the cost,” Bridges said. “We envision eventually offering a pet butler service that will come to your door to pick up your pet, give it the full treatment and then bring it back to your home. For the spa, we want the kind of place you’d find at any one of the world’s top resorts because that’s what you do on vacation. You get a massage or a manicure or a pedicure.”

The level of white-glove amenities Market Square Tower aims to offer go far beyond what is normally available in high-rise apartment. That’s part of the reason Woodbranch Management parted ways with Greystar, which managed the property since it opened in 2016. 

“The vision we created for the asset never really materialized under Greystar,” Bridges said. “It wasn’t anybody’s fault. But when you hire a huge company with a global portfolio, their property management has to be consistent across their platform. We felt like we were forced to fit into their box rather than them fitting into our box. By bringing property management in house, we can fulfill a vision that is far grander than what any third party can do.”

 

All of those amenities come at a cost, of course. Rents at Market Square Tower range from $1,900 per month for a studio apartment to $16,000 per month for a penthouse suite.

Keeping up with the Joneses

Given the incredible amount of time and money Woodbranch Management is putting into Market Square Tower’s amenities, it’s fair to ask whether it’s worth it. At the rental rates the company is asking, many people would be able to afford a sizable single-family home, which would build equity rather than line a landlord’s pocket.

But multifamily experts say that unique amenities can often attract tenants, who might otherwise look elsewhere. 

“Renters who opt for brand new product generally are seeking luxurious finish-out and an array of in-unit and common-area amenities,” said Greg Willett, chief economist for Richardson-based RealPage, which tracks apartment leasing nationally. “Properties that don’t dazzle aren’t even considered by a sizable block of renter prospects. That’s especially true in select urban core neighborhoods where there are so many properties that have been completed recently.”

Gone are the days when simply having a fitness center or a pool were enough to pique the interest of prospective renters. 

 

 

As those amenities became commonplace, developers had to think outside the box to make their multifamily projects stand out. 

These days, renters increasingly want units to be equipped with top-of-the-line finishes, including quartz countertops, tile backsplashes, faux-wood flooring and a full range of stainless-steel appliances. 

For developers, investing in the fit and finish of unit interiors is often a way to boost rental rates. 

Allison Nesbitt, director of national sales for Zumper, a San Francisco-based online apartment brokerage, said amenities like in-unit laundry appliances, dishwashers and a balcony can add, on average, $170, $77 and $35, respectively, to a unit’s monthly rent. Multiply by Market Square Tower's 463 units, and the additional income adds up fast.

“The assumption that if all renters could own, they would, is just not the case today,” Nesbitt said. “Renting allows for a level of flexibility and convenience that is often very appealing to young professionals, families and empty-nesters alike. High-end amenities continue to be very attractive to a large community of renters.”

 
 

Meanwhile, the sky is the limit when it comes to community amenities. 

Rooftop pools, climbing walls, pet-care facilities, bike repair rooms, movie theaters and yoga studios have all found a place in many of Houston’s newest multifamily developments. 

And as Covid-19 took hold, forcing many renters to stay home for months at a time, renters sought a new range of amenities. Developers have rushed to provide internet service capable of handling hours of streaming, pathogen-eliminating HVAC systems and furnished work areas. 

Additionally, many developers have looked for properties near a grocery store, using that proximity as an additional amenity on marketing materials. 

Two recent projects, Midway’s Buffalo Heights in the Washington Avenue Corridor and Morgan Group's Pearl Marketplace, incorporated a grocery store into their plan for a mixed-use development. Buffalo Heights is home to an H-E-B location, while Pearl Marketplace landed a Whole Foods store. Both multifamily developments emphasized the grocery element of the project when marketing to new residents. 

Last year, Bethesda, Maryland-based RCLCO Real Estate Advisors found that developers can typically charge 5.8% more in rent, if they have a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s on-site. 

What every developer will tell you, however, is that many costly community amenities go unused, even if they help to convince tenants to sign a lease. But the additional investment is usually offset by higher rents and amenity fees. 

Several developers who spoke to the HBJ said that amenity fees, which usually add an extra $80 per month to the base rent, help to drive up the price of a multifamily property when developers sell to an investor.

Finding a niche

Hunington Properties’ Good said the ability of amenities to land and retain tenants helped to drive the design of her company’s The Vic at Interpose development in Rice Military.

 

Good said she planned the project to include only micro-sized units, outfitted with high-end finishes. The rest of the space — and money — is going into amenities, she said. 

“In past project, we often saw that the micro-sized studios were the first to get leased up, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t be great to have a building made up entirely of those units,” Good said. “In talking to residents, we found that they don’t need all the additional space. No one eats in a dining room anymore, so why include one? That allowed us to invest in amenities that are truly jaw-dropping.”

Those amenities will include Dish fiber internet service and a rooftop pool with an adjoining Jumbotron-style video wall tenants can use to watch movies or sporting events. 

None of those amenities came cheap, Good said. A rooftop pool, for example, often costs about $150,000 more than the $300,000 a typical in-ground pool at an apartment complex costs. 

To show off the building’s amenity deck, Good said Hunington Properties decided to put the leasing office on the top floor. 

“One of our chief amenities is the view of Houston’s skyline,” Good said. “By having them see that before they tour the property, they’ll have an image that will stay with them when they leave.”

One amenity Good said The Vic at Interpose will not include are “smart” systems beyond keyless entry to units. 

“In past projects, we’d go into a unit after someone had moved out and the smart system would have been removed,” Good said. “We’d call them, and they’d say, ‘Oh, I forgot to tell you. I took your system out and installed my own.’ That told us that people want their own systems that are programmed to their specific schedules. That’s the first thing they unpack when they move in somewhere new. Why would we invest in that, when our tenants want their own systems?”

By targeting renters looking for micro-sized apartments and luxury community amenities, Good said Hunington Properties carved out a niche that while different than the one Market Square Tower caters to, is still based on offering the best amenities renters can afford. 

 

“Houston is a diverse market,” Good said. “There are people who want all of the luxurious amenities imaginable and are willing to pay for it. Others are looking for a place they can come home to and relax without a whole bunch of wasted space. If you find a niche, whatever that is, you can be successful.”

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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13 hours ago, BeerNut said:

Probably trying to position themselves as THE luxury apartments downtown before Brava opens.

There appears to be an escalating arms race in luxury apartments. Expecting Brava or someone else to up it to a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce Phantom driving you to your luxury apartment where in the lobby a world class pianist is playing on a Bosendorfer Imperial or Steinway Grand Piano. Just saying.

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Soon this will no longer have the tallest pool in the state. 6XGuad in Austin will claim the title as not only for the state, but the entire Western Hemisphere at 830’ feet.

https://atxtoday.6amcity.com/behind-design-sixth-guadalupe-austin-tallest-tower/

The penthouse pool will be the tallest pool deck in the entire city, at 830 ft.

 

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