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Sawyer Yards' 115K SF Adaptive Reuse Expansion Will Create One Of The Country's Largest Arts Communities

Rendering of 1201 Oliver St. in Houston's Sawyer Yards

Repurposing old buildings continues to be popular in the Inner Loop. The latest sizable one combines two things millennials love — art and breweries. 

The next Sawyer Yards expansion, led by Houston-based Lovett Commercial's Frank Liu, plus Jon Deal, Steve Gibson and Paul Hobby, will develop two properties — 1201 Oliver St. and 1818 Washington St. — within the rising Arts District Houston, creating one of the largest arts communities in the U.S. Sawyer Yards is a 350K SF campus that features built-for-purpose studios, public galleries, restaurant and retail space. 

The adaptive reuse development of 1201 Oliver St. will transform a 65K SF warehouse to retail space and creative offices. New tenants include a New Orleans-based brewery with 8,500 SF with an additional 4K SF for an outdoor beer garden, a new local cidery and the reopening of a barbecue restaurant. The renovations will start this fall and wrap up by next spring. 

Brewery-like concepts are destination-driven so customers actively seek them out, Lovett Commercial Vice President of Leasing Erin Dyer said. After build-out, the district will house three breweries and one cidery. 

Rendering of 1818 Washington St. in Sawyer Yards

"We as landlords find breweries attractive," she said. "They bring out people during the day, which is good for the rest of the properties.”  

At 1818 Washington St., the developers plan to construct a new two-story, 50K SF building for retail and office space with a grassy courtyard and rooftop terraces that will have panoramic views of the downtown skyline. One tenant signed up so far is an Atlanta-based celebrity chef launching a seafood concept. Construction is slated to start next year to open by fall 2020.  

Overall, adaptive reuse has been underutilized in Houston with most developers opting to tear down rather than redesign, Dyer said. Within Sawyer Yards, the redevelopment of existing buildings has been a key differential with tenants and customers who have come to expect a more creative build-out than traditional mixed-use environments.

Sawyer Yards is nearly 100% leased, Dyer said. The success of the other concepts is pushing the demand for more retail in this area. 

"There is interest in something different," she said.