If you’ve driven along North Shepherd lately, you might have seen a sign for Lowell Street Market at W. 18th St. just before Hunky Dory and Bernadine’s. Steve Radom with Radom Capital LLC says that the project, hopefully debuting in the first quarter of 2017, will be another opportunity to use and repurpose an existing building for a completely different result.
“Rather than just demolishing the property, we looked at the existing structures as a starting point to guide design,” said Radom. “We looked at how we could surgically remodel these old industrial buildings and regenerate a more modern and contextual retail environment.”
The design for Lowell Street includes reskinning the two end buildings in a darker wooden patina inspired by modern Japanese barns – “earthly with a modern punch” – and then uniting these two elements with a central green space. In addition to a courtyard, which will be visible to diners on the patio at Hunky Dory and Bernadine’s, there will be a new 3,000 square foot building designed out of glass and weathered metal panels that architect Troy Schaum of Schaum/Shieh intended to complement the transitional character of the area. “There is a sense of combining the old existing industrial character of the area with a softer domestic feeling of the larger Heights community,” Schaum added.
A developer of other projects in the Heights, including the forthcoming Heights Mercantile on 7th Street, the rehab of 3210 White Oak which houses Black Swan Yoga and Juiceland, and the former washateria at 420 E. 20th St. where Steel City Pops has opened and Bird’s Barbershop is forthcoming, Radom was actively looking for something on Shepherd because he said it’s becoming a true retail and restaurant corridor.
Radom and colleague Barton Kelly asked Barrett Von Blon with Davis Commercial to approach some business owners along N. Shepherd to see if anyone was interested in selling, and were able to connect with a willing seller. Sol Eisenbaum, the longtime owner of Airmakers Cooling & Heating – and the three warehouses on West 18th – was wrapping up his business and ready to sell. The other tenant, Savvi Commercial Furniture, is still at the location, finishing up the lease.
He wouldn’t disclose the price he paid for the warehouses and said that “it is nearly impossible to find a reasonably priced property” in the Heights now. However, Radom said that their purchase price allowed them to reimagine the existing structures, maintain a central courtyard and still do something pedestrian friendly.
“It’s the challenge of business,” he said, “but if we get creative, we are still able to do something interesting in the Heights that’s not vertical.”
Radom’s promotional materials for the project state that Lowell Street was the former incarnation of Shepherd Drive and appeared on Oscar Martin’s first promotional maps for the new Houston Heights, circa 1891: “With its inviting green space and context to the Heights Community, Lowell Street Market will help return the Shepherd Drive Corridor to O.M. Carter’s Original Vision for the Neighborhood.”
It will definitely be a step in the right direction according to Radom, who grew up in Los Angeles where the weather was a big factor in outdoor oriented development.
“Houston has constantly been evolving,” he said. “Developers and city planners are understanding that people are demanding pedestrian and bike friendly projects.”
Radom says that it’s up to the new developers in the area to make their spaces more pedestrian friendly. For Lowell Market, that starts with having parking in the back and orienting the three main structures to 18th Street.
As it exists now, there is 21,000 square feet of buildings. That will be pared down to 10,000 square feet to accommodate city requirements for parking and to enhance the green space.
“The courtyard will be the nucleus of the development and it will be house outdoor seating, landscape elements, bike racks and trees,” said Radom.
Radom said the development already has signed tenants but that he isn’t in a position to announce them. While the promotional generic flyers shows such tantalizing generic options as a grocery store, dessert shop and spa, Radom can confirm that there are already some food options locked in.
As for what’s next, Radom says his firm is constantly looking outside the Heights for new opportunities in Montrose, the Museum District, West University, the Galleria, River Oaks and yes, Garden Oaks and Oak Forest.
“We’ve spent a lot of time recently there and are pretty close to some properties,” said Radom. “We believe that the area is in its first chapter as far as retail development.”