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What Will Become Of Midtown's Sears? Rice Is Taking Ideas

Houston Neighborhood
Sears in Midtown Houston

This week Sears announced it would be closing its iconic Midtown location at 4201 Main in January. Rice Management Co., the arm of Rice University that has owned the land for more than 75 years, bought out the remaining 28 years on Sears' 99-year agreement and purchased three contiguous acres from Sears. 

With roughly 9.4 acres of prime Houston real estate in hand, Rice is looking for an ambitious plan. 

“Removing the long-term lease obligation from Rice’s Midtown property will allow the university to initiate a process of thoughtful planning for the future use of this land,” Rice President David Leebron said in a statement Tuesday.

Rice will undertake a yearlong study to consider all options that would continue the ongoing revitalization of the surrounding area. 

But before official plans can begin, Rice asked readers of its Urban Edge blog for their ideas. There was no shortage of them. 

Some called for preserving the Art Deco stylings of the building. Others want the prime location to be turned into a transit-oriented development. Another popular option is affordable housing, something Houston has consistently struggled with, particularly in the immediate area surrounding the site. There is always the possibility of combining all of the ideas into a large mixed-use development. 

Whatever happens with the property, expect it to make waves. 

Related Topics: Rice University, Sears, Urban Edge