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Midway Embarks on Major Mixed-Use Project near Texas A&M

Houston Business Journal | 11.12.2014

The developer behind the popular CITYCENTRE complex in Houston is embarking on a major mixed-used project in College Station, home of Texas A&M University.

Midway Cos., a Houston-based real estate investment and development firm, is breaking ground on Century Square on Nov. 12. The medium-density complex, named after Texas A&M's founding 100 years after the nation's independence, will feature more than 200,000 square feet of shopping, dining and entertainment space as well as two hotels, a modern office building, a mid-rise apartment complex and parking structures.

"Our goal is to create a community and regional destination that people will drive in from out of town to visit," Midway CEO Jonathan Brinsden said.

Century Square will be a public-private partnership between Midway, its development partners and Texas A&M University. Earlier this year, Midway signed a 75-year ground lease on 60 acres of university-owned land along University Drive, between Texas and College avenues. The site used to host graduate and married student housing, which has been consolidated into a new 400-unit building on six acres.

During its first phase of development, Midway plans to build nearly a dozen mid-rise buildings on 20 to 30 acres, leaving about half of the property for future development. Similar to CityCentre, Century Square will have a large green plaza for public concerts, events and Aggie tailgates.

"It's the heart and soul of the property," Brinsden said.

On a 2-acre tract on the south side of the complex, Midway plans to build a 90,000-square-foot Class-A office building with a state-of-the art conference center and open-air gathering space. The office will cater to engineers, consultants, entrepreneurs, biotech and medical companies that are spawned from the university, Brinsden said.

Office lease prices, which are expected to be in the low to mid $20 per square foot, will exceed current market prices. Brinsden said he hopes to see the office complex become the corporate headquarters for a major company one day.

"We think there's demand (for a Class-A office complex)," Brinsden said. "We just think it hasn't been delivered yet."

In the center of the project, Midway has partnered with Valencia Group to build two full-service, boutique hotels: The George (160 rooms) and Cavalry Court (140 rooms). Currently, there's one full-service hotel in the College Station market.

Both The George and Cavalry Court, which will be modeled after the nationally recognized Hotel Sorella at CityCentre, will elevate the travel experience for College Station visitors, Brinsden said.

On the north end of the complex, Midway is planning a yet-to-be-named multifamily project. The four-story, 250-unit apartment complex will feature two courtyards with a resort-style pool and high-end amenities, such as a fitness center. The units, which average about 880 square feet, will feature upscale touches, such as wood-vinyl flooring, recessed lighting and stone countertops.

Monthly rents also will exceed the market at about $1.50 to $1.90 per square foot, or about $1,672 for an average unit. The apartment is intended to cater to young professionals, faculty, staff and researchers on campus, not so much students, Brinsden said.

"We need to be attractive to a broader community," Brinsden said. "Students are a small part of the overall demand for the project."

Midway plans to break ground on the multifamily project in January. It will take 16 to 18 months to complete.The hotels will break ground in March and take 13 to 14 months to build. The first phase of development is expected to be delivered by summer 2016.

The architect for commercial and office is Gensler; multi-family is STG Design. The landscape designer is Kudela & Weinheimer. The engineer is Ward, Getz & Associates.