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The Port’s New BFF

Houston Industrial

Through its new JV with Transwestern, Ridge Property Trust plans to enter Houston in a big way—new distribution lines from the Port of Houston to Chicago. (There hasn't been an entrance that big since Liza Minelli stopped doing musicals.)


Ridge CEO Jim Martell tells us his firm loves working with ports across the country (starboards, not so much), and he’s already in talks with the Port of Houston about some available land and other opportunities. But his pet project will be a major undertaking—a direct train connection from the Port to his home base of Chicago. He particularly envisions it for shipping produce from Latin America. (People in Chicago will finally get fresh Uruguayan quinces.) Currently, Chicago’s supply is shipped to an East Coast port and then trucked in, but this plan would be cheaper and faster.


Jim’s already in talks with railroads to get the ball rolling. It’s not a new concept for Ridge—the team helped set up such a route between Chicago and Central Valley, Calif. That’s starting service in May and works both ways: Chicago gets fruit from California and sends dairy products back. (It's like a elementary school lunch trade on a massive scale.) Jim believes the Chicago/Houston line would be a huge benefit to the Port, diverting ships from the East Coast.


The JV, Ridge Development, is part of Transwestern’s push to increase its development platform. That included Carleton Riser’s promotion to president of Transwestern Development last month. (Above, Carleton spoke at our Future of the Energy Corridor event last year.) Ridge will provide full industrial development services for the JV, including its ongoing projects in Houston. Jim tells us he’s thrilled to take advantage of Transwestern’s human capital and institutional connections. In turn, the JV will help Transwestern enter Mexico City.