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Buffalo Heights owner: Landing H-E-B was critical to make a livable community

Houston Business Journal | 05.15.2017

Securing H-E-B as the anchor tenant of Buffalo Heights, the mixed-use project that Houston-based Midway Cos. is developing at the corner of Washington Avenue and South Heights Boulevard, was no easy feat.

Russell Gordy, the owner of the Buffalo Heights property, spoke with the Houston Business Journal about working with H-E-B, which is building a 96,000-square-foot H-E-B store with multilevel parking on his land. The Buffalo Heights H-E-B will be a departure from the company's traditional single-level, suburban-style stores.

Gordy was concerned about landing H-E-B, as he didn't plan on giving up ownership in the Buffalo Heights property. H-E-B typically owns the real estate it occupies. H-E-B approached Gordy about buying the property. But Gordy didn't budge.

"I thought that would be a deal-killer, but they wanted (to open a store in) the area so (badly)," Gordy said.

Gordy said he's planning to keep the Buffalo Heights property in his family for a long time, and that H-E-B signed a long-term lease for the property. The San Antonio-based grocer's entry into the Heights submarket was long-awaited and highly anticipated.

The new store will include a walk-up coffee and food concept that'll offer to-go and casual dine-in service.

“When we learned of the plans for Buffalo Heights, we knew it was just the type of community more of Houston is going to want," Scott McClelland, Houston president of San Antonio-based H-E-B Grocery Co., said in an earlier statement.

Midway didn't engage in discussions with any other grocer, Midway's CEO Jonathan Brinsden told the HBJ last year.

Future phases of Buffalo Heights will sit on 23 acres of land currently occupied by the Archstone Memorial Heights apartment community. Eventually, the entire apartment community will be demolished. Gordy said there's around $1 billion earmarked for development of the remaining 23 acres.

The first phase of Buffalo Heights, which will include the H-E-B, a boutique office building and a multifamily development, will sit on 4 acres of land.

The Buffalo Heights development is one of several mixed-use projects underway in Houston. The idea of "live-work-play," in which a development offers living, work and entertainment options, is being seen in more and more real estate developments.

"Getting the H-E-B was critical to making (Buffalo Heights) a livable community," Gordy said. "I think they're the No. 1 grocery store. People would argue that, but I think they are."