EaDo's Big Changes
Developers are transforming the formerly desolate East End into a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with industrial-chic residences, quirky retail and offices—all in the shadow of Houston’s downtown skyline. We sat down with some of the execs who've been spurring increased activity over the last few years.
Until about 10 years ago, East Downtown was a neighborhood split by railyards and pocked with warehouses. It was gritty, and the only real signs of life were the Chinese restaurants and businesses that had given the area the name “Chinatown.” But then Chinatown moved to Sharpstown and Bellaire and once again, EaDo lost its identity.
But that is changing—rapidly and with great enthusiasm.
Development has ramped up in the past three years, and it's on the cusp of being the next hot neighborhood, says Ancorian founding partner Michael Sperandio (above).
Ancorian is developing a two-block mixed-use complex called East Village at St. Emanuel and Hutchins streets. The project includes creative office space, a comedy club, retail and Our/Houston vodka distillery.
The tenants at Ancorian's building plan to team up with 8th Wonder Brewery, about two blocks away, to host street festivals and block parties, and their event space will be leased out for charity events, public receptions and private parties. Michael says it’s a place where his company’s tenants can get a good price for rent in mid-century buildings that have loads of character and the patina of “old Houston.”
Michael tells Bisnow Phase 1 of East Village will be completed in October. Meanwhile, the company has purchased other EaDo buildings and is partnering in other projects in the area.
Cushman & Wakefield EVP Dave Cook has brokered numerous deals in the area and has watched it grow in the past decade from a no-man’s-land to a neighborhood that has some real flavor.
Part of that growth is due to BBVA Compass Stadium and the Metro Light Rail that runs north of the soccer stadium. The addition of exciting retail and residential is a natural outgrowth of those developments, Dave says. To accommodate the expansion, the city is building a tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly promenade along six blocks of Bastrop Street to beautify the area. And St. Emanuel Street is shaping up to look and feel a lot like Austin’s 6th Street, with bars, restaurants and live music venues.
Dave (shown here) believes the neighborhood could see a massive change if Houston’s plan to reconstruct I-45 and I-69 and raze the Pierce Elevated is actualized. Once that artificial barrier is gone, Downtown Houston will spread east and south, and EaDo will be the next place developers look to expand, he tells us.
And grow it will, says East Downtown Management District’s Anton Sinkewich. The transplants from the Northeast and West Coast who have flocked to Houston recently are not interested in the “typical Houston lifestyle”—a two-hour commute on clogged and fumy freeways. They’re from cities centered around driving and they crave a walkable, affordable lifestyle, which EaDo can provide.
Lovett Homes is constructing new townhomes in the heart of EaDo, right next to the Metro Light Rail. With easy access to shops, Discovery Green and sports areas, they are the type of homes that will appeal to people looking to ditch their cars.
While the Lovett Homes are new construction, the redevelopment of dilapidated old buildings is gaining traction. The old mid-century warehouses have good bones, and they’re affordable.
The old Waddell Furniture warehouse (shown here) is being transformed into “industrial chic” lofts while the old Cheek-Neal Coffee building is being redeveloped into tech offices. Give it another three years and EaDo will be a cooler, edgier Houston Heights.