Heights warehouses to see new life as urban retail and office destination

Nancy Sarnoff | Houston Chronicle

November 16, 2018

It didn’t take long for Houston developers Steve Radom and Scott Arnoldy to realize they share a similar vision about preserving old buildings, even if the buildings are unremarkable warehouses from the 1970s. Most any other developer would promptly call in the wrecking ball.

Radom, who built Heights Mercantile, the eclectic shopping district fashioned out of a collection of old structures and new ones, called Arnoldy when he learned that the fellow developer was buying an industrial park at the northeast intersection of North Shepherd and 6th Street that he had also long admired.

“We hit it off on about every level you could,” recalled Arnoldy, managing partner of Triten Real Estate Partners. “I eventually just said, ‘Why don’t you just come in and do it with us.’”

That was the beginning of a project called M-K-T, which will transform a 12-acre site into 200,000 square feet of high-end offices, shopping, restaurants and a fitness complex. Triten and Radom’s company, Radom Capital, are seeking tenants.

The five industrial buildings on the property will be redesigned and repurposed — and in some cases, deconstructed — as a walkable development that also will include parks, public art and “abundant bicycle parking,” the developers said. The property’s location is along the Heights Hike and Bike Trail. The White Oak Bayou Trail is south of the property.

Slated for an early 2020 completion, the development will be split equally between office and retail space. The architects are Michael Hsu Office of Architecture and SWA Group. Method Architecture is also involved.

Radom said the new design peels away the flat, monolithic facades of the warehouses. Some of the buildings may be gutted, leaving their joists exposed to create plazas or space for parking.

“The landscape design for M-K-T preserves yet enhances the historic Houston Heights character,” Kinder Baumgartner, Principal at SWA Group, said in a statement. “We complemented the design with new greenspaces, native plantings and community seating opportunities.”

Radom and Arnoldy declined to disclose their investment in the property and the estimated development cost other than saying it would be tens of millions of dollars. The project has financial backing from Long Wharf Capital LLC, a Boston private equity firm.

Construction is expected to start by the middle of next year after the last tenants move out. All of the leases contained clauses that tenants may have to relocate if the property changed hands. The seller had owned the property since the early 1990s. The deal closed in May.

The developers said they intend to lease space to local and first-to-market tenants, similar to the approach at Radom’s Heights Mercantile, which includes Warby Parker, Local Foods, Postino Wine Cafe and Aesop.

The pair bought an Airstream trailer to use as a conference room inside one of the buildings they’ll initially use as a marketing center.