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100-Year-Old Eastwood Grocery Building Gets 'New Life' As Retail Center

A father-son development duo plans to transform a 100-year-old grocery building into a buzzing gathering space for the Eastwood neighborhood in Houston.

Tim Cisneros and David Cisneros, the partners of Romulus Development Partners, and a Southern Pacific caboose that is for lease at their 4109 McKinney St. development.

Tim and David Cisneros, the father and son who make up Romulus Development Partners, bought the property and now hope to entice tenants to open restaurants, shops and other businesses in the 1920s-era building as well as in a refurbished caboose that will also sit on the 4109 McKinney St. property.

Both developers say their goal is enhancing quality of life by transforming spaces and buildings. David Cisneros, who previously worked for Trammell Crow, lives in Eastwood and believes the project could become the community meeting space that is currently missing from the neighborhood.

“One sort of dreams about being able to develop in their backyard, or make some investments that are great real estate deals, high-yielding, and desired by the market, but also improve the quality of life in your own neighborhood,” David Cisneros told Bisnow

The historic building was originally built in 1922 by an Italian immigrant and grocer named LM Greco, according to the project website. Romulus plans to restore the building, which has about 2K SF on each of its two floors and could accommodate shared office space, a beauty salon or other retail. 

The pair has also placed a Southern Pacific caboose on the site, which was previously finished out as an office for a restaurant, but could now make a good coffee shop or a fast-casual restaurant, David Cisneros said. It is surrounded by 20K SF of land that could be used for seating. Cushman & Wakefield is handling the leasing for the caboose.

A rendering of the redeveloped site at 4109 McKinney St. that should be completed in fall 2023.

The century-old building will require significant plumbing, electrical and other system-level work, David Cisneros said, but some parts of the building are solid.

“The bones themselves and the orientation of the upstairs hallways actually have a really modern configuration because it was always retail,” he said. 

Development is expected to be complete in fall 2023. 

Romulus, which was established late last year, specializes in commercial retail with a focus on urban infill, David Cisneros said.

“We’re not exactly doing adaptive reuse, we’re kind of doing the same use, but putting new life into it,” he said of the McKinney Street project. 

The project is about two blocks away from East Downtown or the Second Ward, which is in rapid development mode, David Cisneros said. It is a great place to invest, because land is about one-third the price of other areas of Houston, yet rents are about 75% of other places, he added.

Though he has spent “meaningful time” living in New Orleans and Los Angeles, David Cisneros is originally from Houston and sees the city as the most fascinating place to learn to be a developer. 

“There’s not the unified zoning that dictates land use that you see in every other major U.S. city, and there’s a pathway to entrepreneurship that you don’t get in other markets,” he said.