Plans Emerge for $700M Mixed-Use Project in Houston

A 150-acre site just outside of downtown Houston in the burgeoning Pearland district has been designated for a new mixed-use development, the WaterLights District. Historic Real Estate Inc. is behind the project, and plans to spend $700 million to bring in to fruition. Located along Clear Creek off Highway

A 150-acre site just outside of downtown Houston in the burgeoning Pearland district has been designated for a new mixed-use development, the WaterLights District. Historic Real Estate Inc. is behind the project, and plans to spend $700 million to bring in to fruition. Located along Clear Creek off Highway 288, WaterLights will be in a prime spot to capitalize on a robust area that has long been sustained by the city’s energy industry and the presence of the Texas Medical Center. It is largest enclave of hospitals and medical schools in the world. And, it is in the midst of a growth spurt. The medical and research hub presently boasts a workforce of 73,000 that is on target to increase to 100,000 within the next six years “The predictability of the market is provided by the Texas Medical Center, David Goswick, executive director of Historic Real Estate, told CPN. “It’s huge. It’s the largest in the world by a factor of three. Currently there is $3 billion of development in the Medical Center and there will be another $5 billion between now and 2014.” Additionally, Houston’s population is expected to increase by two million by 2025. Upon completion, WaterLights will offer upscale 1,400 condominiums and apartment residences, as well as luxury brownstones to be constructed by Allegro Builders. On the commercial front, the development will feature Class A office space; three premier hotels with an aggregate 700 guestrooms and a regional conference center; a 7,500-seat enclosed arena; boutique retail space; and a bevy of restaurants. The site will also be home to the 12-acre Presidential Park and Gardens, and walking and jogging trails. “The waterfront and the park are what make WaterLights unique for a mixed-use project,” Goswick said. “Also, it’s along a waterway system that connects to the canal that supports the project.” Phase one of the project will include a 300,000-square-foot office building, 100,000 square feet of retail, in addition to 12 to 14 restaurants; two hotels; as well as residential units.Statistics show that the Houston area is hungry for more of just about every sector of commercial real estate–more multifamily offerings, more office space, and more retail options, and on and on. While an onslaught of new development pushed the city’s Class A apartment vacancy rate up 200 basis points to 8.9 percent from midyear 2007, according to a report by Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, substantial population growth and a healthy job market are expected to continue to spur demand for the long-term. In the office market, there has been a 14.1 percent jump in asking rents over the last 12 months, and the average vacancy rate decreased 130 basis points to 9.8 percent. And the city’s healthy economy will continue to bolster the retail sector. “WaterLights is a new city,” Goswick said. “We’ll provide services to businesses, employees and visitors.”