By Jeff Jeffrey – Reporter, Houston Business Journal
Developers at Houston-based Midway hope to break ground by years’ end on the company's planned 150-acre East River project. However, Midway has not set a date for when construction will begin on the project, even as more details emerge about what the massive development will ultimately look like.
East River will be located along Buffalo Bayou in Houston’s Fifth Ward, just south of Interstate 10. The site offers over a mile of waterfront real estate and easy access to downtown.
Midway’s plans for East River promise to reinvent a neighborhood that has often been overlooked by developers.
The company plans to build 8.9 million square feet of office space, 1,440 multifamily units, 390 hotel rooms and 475 single-family homes. In all, East River will encompass 60 city blocks.
Midway is working with several architects to design various aspects of the project. Washington, D.C.-based Page, which has a major Houston office, is serving as lead architect, while Houston’s OJB Landscape Architecture has been tapped to provide landscape architect services. Houston-based Munoz + Albin Architecture & Planning is designing the exteriors of the multifamily portion of the project, and Mayfield and Ragni Studio, which is also based in Houston, is designing the interiors.
A Midway spokeswoman said the company is in advanced negotiations with general contractors to oversee construction of phase one. When Midway ultimately does break ground, phase one of the project will include buildings with space for office, retail, entertainment, recreation, hospitality, multifamily residential and the Houston Maritime Museum.
Midway is working with the city of Houston on predevelopment initiatives. Because the scope of the East River project is so vast, the company is also collaborating on its design with Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the city’s tax increment reinvestment zone No. 18, Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corp., East End Management District and the community.
Midway has hired CBRE to handle leasing on phase one of the project’s office and retail spaces, with the aim of landing locally owned tenants that highlight Houston’s unique cuisine, music and arts culture. Pre-leasing is already open; however, the company did not provide details about whether any tenants have signed on at this point.
Plans for the East River have shifted over the years.
In 2017, Midway made a strong push for the site to become the new home for Amazon.com Inc.’s (Nasdaq: AMZN) second global headquarters, releasing promotional videos that highlighted the site’s benefits, which include its proximity to downtown, Houston's two international airports, the Museum District and more. But Amazon ultimately passed on locating HQ2 in Houston.
Midway used the experience to better encapsulate East River’s potential as a decades-long mixed-use development. One of Midway's key selling points for the project is that the entire property is located within a Qualified Opportunity Zone, which could provide huge tax benefits to companies that move into the development.