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Transwestern’s 17-Acre Mixed-Use Project In Upper Kirby Finally Slated For Summer Groundbreaking

A coveted site at West Alabama Street and Buffalo Speedway in Houston should be humming with activity by this summer as The RO, a 17-acre mixed-use project, starts construction.

3120 Buffalo Speedway in Houston

The RO, which will include office, retail and multifamily components, is named for River Oaks, the submarket abutting the site near Greenway Plaza in the Upper Kirby area. The project will feel like “an extension of River Oaks,” Sean Suffel, Transwestern project executive, told the Houston Chronicle.

Transwestern and Spear Street Capital bought the site at 3120 Buffalo Speedway in 2017. It had housed an Exxon research facility until the company relocated to Spring. Transwestern later bought out Spear Street, and Transwestern Development Co. is the master developer of The RO, the Chronicle reports.

“The site itself has been coveted for decades,” Suffel told the outlet. “We felt really that the placemaking piece is the part we care about the most.”

Plans for the project include tree-lined walkways, underground parking, a condo-hotel operated by Auberge Resorts Collection, a 317-unit apartment tower, shops, restaurants and offices. The details largely align with plans that date back as early as 2019. Commercial real estate experts have expected the site would be redeveloped into a mixed-use project since at least 2014.

Auberge is rapidly expanding in Texas under the direction of Houston billionaire Dan Friedkin, who acquired the company in 2013, Texas Monthly reported. The RO location known as the Birdsall will include 105 hotel rooms and 44 condominiums, according to Texas Monthly. It is scheduled to open in late 2026.

An office tenant has already leased a 146K SF mid-rise building at The RO, Transwestern said, though it declined to identify the tenant. Transwestern is also in talks to fill 75K SF of retail space, the Chronicle reported.

The RO is expected to be completed in 2027. 

One element that remains mysterious is the fate of a 4.7-acre parcel Transwestern sold to an LLC that shares an address with Occidental Petroleum’s headquarters in Greenway Plaza. The entities involved declined to comment on plans for that land, although Transwestern said it would be within The RO.