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Hines And 2ML Real Estate To Build 52-Acre Life Sciences Development Near Texas Med Center

Hines And 2ML Real Estate To Build 52-Acre Life Sciences Development Near Texas Med Center
A rendering of the Levit Green mixed-use development near the Texas Medical Center.

Hines and 2ML Real Estate Interests are developing a 52-acre master-planned community adjacent to the Texas Medical Center, which is expected to significantly boost the volume of available life sciences-centric real estate in Houston.

Dubbed Levit Green, the project will be developed on a parcel of land at the intersection of Highway 288 and Holcombe Boulevard. It is intended to be a live-work-play development, which will include life sciences research facilities, office, residential, shopping and dining, outdoor amenities and green space.

“We've been quietly baking this cake for almost three years,” Hines Senior Managing Director John Mooz told Bisnow.

“We've been doing it very quietly with various departments of the city. We've been doing it quietly with the Levit family, and we've spent ... a very large amount of time to make sure that all of the site issues that are requisite in doing a 50-plus-acre development in this area are answered.”

2ML Real Estate Interests, originally known as The Grocers Supply Co., was founded by the Levit family in 1923. After owning a portion of the land for nearly a century, the company has partnered with Hines to transform the overall parcel into a thriving life sciences and medical research hub.

Hines selected architecture firm Gensler and engineering firm Walter P Moore to assist with the master-planned design. The company is still in the process of selecting the architecture and engineering teams for individual buildings within the development.

Mooz said the overall project will have millions of square feet of mixed-use product, with the majority of it dedicated to life sciences. The precise square footage and number of buildings is still being determined.

“There's an intense need for state-of-the-art life science and lab space right now, given what's been in the works for the last several years, as you look at what's happening in the space,” Mooz said.

Local business leaders have spoken for years about the desire to grow life sciences’ role in Houston’s economy as an extension of the city’s well-established healthcare industry. But a lack of real estate dedicated to research and lab space has contributed to slow growth in the life sciences industry.

“I think the weakest link now is the lack of a built environment for these companies, and to me, that's the big news of what's changing,” Transwestern Development Regional Partner Gayle Farris said on a Bisnow webinar last week.

Development projects like The Ion and TMC3 — and now Levit Green — have been aimed at boosting the city’s standing within the U.S. as a life sciences cluster that can compete with Boston and San Francisco.

Hines is aiming to break ground on one or more buildings within the development in about a year's time. At this stage, the company does not have a set expected date of completion for the master-planned project.

TMC3, which is also set to break ground this year, is located only a few blocks from the Levit Green development. Mooz said that while both projects have enormous collaborative potential, the timing of the two projects was not purposely coordinated. 

As the Texas Medical Center expands and as TMC3 and Levit Green develop, Mooz said there will need to be a greater level of transportation connectivity on an intradistrict basis.

“We want to make this imminently accessible for all of the researchers, physicians and scientists that are going to matriculate between the three environments,” Mooz said.