Katherine Feser | Houston Chronicle
February 7, 2020
Two-wheelers rather than 18 wheelers will help drive the commerce at M-K-T Heights, a mixed-use redevelopment along North Shepherd Drive at 7th Street that aims to capitalize on its setting between two hike and bike trails.
Radom Capital and its partners Triten Real Estate Partners and Long Wharf Capital have added a Houston BCycle bike share station and signed Pedego Electric Bikes as a tenant in the project, which will transform five concrete industrial buildings into a collection of creative office spaces and about 40 shops, restaurants and fitness tenants.
The 200,000-square-foot development is situated between the White Oak Bayou Trail on the south and the MKT Trail — named for the Missouri Kansas Texas rail line it replaced — to the north. Tenants are projected to open in late summer and fall of this year.
“We’re very excited to have somebody selling bikes on the trial, as well has having bikes for rent,” said Barton Kelly, a vice president of Radom Capital.
Pedego, which entered the Houston market with a store in Fulshear in August, sells high-end electric bikes that can go up to 60 miles on a charge, or farther if you pedal. The bikes, which sell from $1,900 to $6,000 and average around $3,800, can assist riders who may have shied away from biking due to leg, knee, back or other issues.
“Our clientele are people that maybe can’t ride 50 miles,” said Jason Miller of Pedego Houston. “These are pedal-assist bikes. It will give you just a little boost as you pedal.”
The 1,120-square-foot Heights store, which will also host guided foodie tours by bike around the Heights, plans to sell customized traditional bikes, tagalongs for dogs and bikes for kids in addition to electric bikes, Miller said. The electric bikes can go up to 20 miles per hour, making the four-mile trip to downtown potentially quick and sweat-free, if the weather is right.
“We’re going to be targeting city commuters,” Miller said. “They can go in and take that trail all the way the way into town.”
The development is the latest spot for a BCycle station, where bikes can be checked out for 30 minutes for $3 and returned to any station. Monthly and annual plans are available for unlimited 60-minute rides on BCycle’s mobile app.
The BCycle program, operated by the nonprofit Houston Bike Share, has grown to 109 stations since starting with three in 2012. It’s goal is to get cars off the streets while providing an environmentally friendly alternative for short trips. Local partners such as developers typically contribute toward the cost of stations, which are largely funded by grants. Another 20 stations are projected to open this year.
“It checks a ton of the boxes for an ideal bike share station,” Henry Morris, head of development and communication for Houston Bike Share, said of the latest location.
“It’s on the bike trail near other BCycle stations, which creates a network for riders looking to visit multiple locations,” he said.
Houston’s expanding trail system is creating opportunities for new retail destinations, such as The Dunlavy, a restaurant and event venue overlooking Buffalo Bayou. Efforts are underway by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership to extend the trails eastward toward the Port of Houston.
“The hike and bike trail system, until recently, really wasn’t there to connect to,” said Lance Gilliam, a partner at Waterman Steele Real Estate Advisors who regularly uses the city’s bike trails. “The system that’s being built is allowing connections to it.”
Creating places for recreation and leisure, in addition to shopping and working, is central to the plan at M-K-T. The developer is building a three-acre park stretching 1,000 feet between its development and the MKT Trail.
Other M-K-T tenants so far include Miller Grossbard Advisors, an accounting firm, and XCL Resources, an energy company. Retail tenants include Houston-based frozen custard company Honeychild’s Sweet Creams, Mendocino Farms Sandwich Market, Burdlife jewelry and Elite Meals.
Designed by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, the 12-acre site will have courtyards and passageways cut through the salvaged industrial buildings, with new exteriors and glass incorporated into the walls. Method Architecture is also working on the project.
In a similar fashion, Radom Capital incorporated bungalows and industrial buildings into the Heights Mercantile retail district about half a mile away along the MKT Trail/Heights Hike and Bike Trail. It also sponsored a BCycle stop there.
“I think people with come to M-K-T and spend hours,” said Kelly of Radom Capital. “Someone will be able to come and make an entire day of what we’re doing.”