Marissa Luck | Houston Chronicle
February 17, 2022
A renewable energy company has relocated its headquarters to Houston planning to expand here with a new office in a hip adaptive reuse project in The Heights.
Archaea Energy is moving its headquarters from the Pittsburgh area into a 40,000 square-foot space at M-K-T, the new mixed-use project developed by the Triten Real Estate and Radom Capital at 600 N Shepherd Drive.
Archaea Energy merged with Detroit-based Aria Energy last year and the combined company went public through a special acquisition company (SPAC) merger with Rice Acquisition Corp. in September 2021.
Around that time Archaea quietly set up a small temporary office in the River Oaks area of Houston at 4444 Westheimer Road through a subleased space, said Megan Light, spokeswoman for Archaea in an interview.
The company expects to maintain a small presence in Pittsburgh and Detroit but will now be doing the bulk of its hiring in Houston, where it currently has about 89 employees, Light said.
Archaea picked Houston for its new headquarters because of its access to talent within the energy capital of the world, Light said.
The company is planning to move into the M-K-T mixed-use project in the fall 2022, Light added.
“It’s a really modern, compelling space. We really wanted an office that people wanted to come to,” Light said.
Archaea has been operating in a flexible, hybrid capacity and the hope is that locating in the new hip project in The Heights will motivate employees to come into the office more often, she said.
M-K-T is already bustling with events, trendy retailers and new restaurants that could help with recruiting talent, noted tenant representatives with CBRE.
“M-K-T offers access to bike trails, parks, restaurants, retail and other amenities employees increasingly desire. This is a great outcome for the company and the city of Houston,” said Kevin Kushner of CBRE who represented the tenant along with William Padon.
Boutique adaptive reuse projects are seeing strong leasing activity in the pandemic despite the weakness of the office market in Houston overall, industry experts say.
M-K-T developers have actually added more office space than they originally planned in response to the demand – including adding a mezzanine level to Archaea’s office and converting some retail space into office use, said Steve Radom, principal at Radom Capital who is co-developing the project, in an interview.
Archaea Energy is expected to get signage on building 5 of the project, where residential real estate company Compass and primary healthcare provider Village Medical already have office space in the project, he said.
Archaea becomes the largest office tenant in M-K-T, which now has about 120,000 square feet office space and 90,000 square feet of retail space, Radom said. Radom Capital and Triten Real Estate were represented by CBRE's Russell Hodges, Bubba Harkins and Jenny Mueller.
Developers recently inked additional office leases with financial services group IMA Financial for 7,500 square feet of space and oil and gas firm McGonagill, Lambert & Bay for about 2,800 square feet, a spokesman for the project confirmed.
Archaea’s space includes direct access to the adjacent hike-and-bike trail, as well as access to interior bike storage, state-of-the-art lounge areas and dedicated wellness and fitness spaces. The building – a former industrial space converted into an office – has a garage door that opens up to allow for fresh air and nature views, Radom noted.
Archaea is coming to Houston just as economic developers are trying to position the city for the energy transition.
“At a time when everyone is concerned about what the future of energy looks like, this group committing to Houston just reaffirms the fact that we have this energy ecosystem here whether it’s renewable or traditional, we’re the epicenter,” Radom said.
Archaea Energy Inc. describes itself as one of the largest renewable natural gas producers in the U.S. The company has 28 operating sites across the country where it converts waste into renewal natural gas, reducing local air emissions at the site of landfills by an estimated 90 percent, said Light.