Is 34th Street shaping up to be the next big thing in commercial real estate? First there was Bryan Danna’s announcement in November to The Leader of a 2.5 acre retail development on the southwest corner of 34th Street and Ella. Then last week, Chris Hotze with Crescere Capital Management unveiled plans to Swamplot about 33 1/3 @ Thirtyfourth, their equally sized development on the southeast corner of 34th and Ella which will be designed by Gensler architects Peter Merwin and Ted Rubenstein.
The two enhancements will not only bring more restaurants and retail to an area hungry for them, but also spur more development along the corridor.
As of September, Crescere Garden Oaks, LP owned the following properties on or near 34th: the Texas Bus Sales lot, the Century Marking storefront, El Rey Taqueria, the cleared lot of the former That Pizza Place and 1621 W. 34th St. which is a private home. HCAD now reports Crescere as the owner of two additional properties on W. 34th Street – 1522 W. 34th Street which is a vacant lot and 1602 W. 34th St. which is a home – both across from Texas Bus Sales.
The Gensler site map of 33 1/3 @ Thirtyfourth – 33 1/3 is the revolutions per minute of a vinyl record and the name of the southern boundary street on the map – shows a retail building over the current site of El Rey and another new building over the Century Marking storefront. There is a parking lot between those two buildings and two more retail buildings on the south side of the development. The buildings facing West 34th abut the street.
In a recent Facebook post about vibrant communities, Gensler quoted urban activist Jane Jacobs who said, “Streets and their sidewalks, the main public spaces of a city, are its vital organs.” It will be interesting to see how the architects try to achieve any kind of urban walkability in the new space.
The plans call for a “neighborhood center with hip, ‘aspirational’ retail . . . a place where parents, children, and neighbors connect withtheir community on a daily basis.”
When The Leader last talked to Chris Hotze in September, he said that there had been significant interest in the former That Pizza Place from several large convenience store/gas station combinations and that he also had several fast food restaurants and automobile service companies that were very interested.
“It was never going to be a gas station,” a local developer said. “The land is too expensive.”
Hotze also developed The Shops at Oak Forest on 43rd so that may be a clue to the kinds of tenants he is seeking. He told Swamplot that he “has reached out to the neighborhood to find out what they are looking for.” A poster on the OFHA Facebook page said that when Crescere was planning The Shops at Oak Forest, they rented out Saint Arnold’s brewery and invited residents to a meeting.
The resulting promotional video can be seen on You Tube at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eh5n071Bn4&feature=share>
While Hotze said in September that they hoped to continue to have a long term relationship with El Rey as a tenant, there is no official word from El Rey about their status, but employees are telling customers they are moving.
What remains unknown are Hotze’s future plans for the rest of the land he owns on 34th. He told The Leader that there are no current developments planned beyond the corner 2.5 acres. The Texas Bus Sales property he owns is about 96,000 square feet of land, while the two properties across the street are a combined 35,000 square feet of land.
On the south side of 34th, Hotze does not own contiguous buildings past Century Marking. The Oak Manor Apartments at 1705 West 34th are still owned by another entity as is Café Mart at 1629 W 34th St. Café Mart owner Joe Presswood previously told The Leader that they’ve had a lot of interest from people wanting to buy the property where he operates an live auction house business, but there were no plans to sell.
If the retail renaissance makes it down his way, he now says they might redevelop as [commercial] retail, and/or lease to someone else.
“We’ll wait and see what happens,” Presswood said.
Coincidentally, or not, Presswood’s property is now on LoopNet for lease: <http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/19595383/1629-West-34th-Street-Houston-TX/?LinkCode=31812>
Could another grocery store be in the cards? A source recently told The Leader that Sprouts was looking in the Garden Oaks/Oak Forest area. According to Spouts communications specialist Allison Jordan, Sprouts opens about 35 new stores a year and that no additional Houston stores are on the horizon.
According to their website, Sprouts looks for build-to-suit or existing buildings in free-standing or shopping center locations that are approximately 30,000 square feet and have a minimum of 140 parking spaces.
With those requirements it doesn’t look like Sprouts is coming to Hotze’s corner development, but time will tell if they find a home elsewhere on 34th.
One wildcard is the warehouse property at 3306-3310 Ella Boulevard adjacent to Hotze’s holdings. See the listing at <http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/19652516/3306-3310-Ella-Boulevard-Houston-TX/>. Walter Menuet with Collier International said that the property is not currently under contract and that the owners are leaning towards upgrading the property and then leasing it with a different tenant mix.
In the meantime, locals are excited about Bryan Danna’s first signed tenant for the southwest corner – the Surfhouse is going to stay at that location in a new building.
“It’s big news for us and important to the community,” said Danna.