Major retail development starts in Houston

One of Midtown's largest landholders has revealed plans for a nearly five-block real estate development around the intersection of Elgin and Louisiana.

Crosspoint Properties has already started construction on a three-story retail building at the corner. And it just fenced off most of the block on the other side of the street between Smith and Louisiana with signs advertising the project, called The Mix @ Midtown.

Crosspoint's George Levan said he believes the revitalization of Midtown and lower Westheimer as restaurant and entertainment destinations will carry over to his project.

"We're looking to play off that trend," he said.

Levan has already leased 50,000 square feet of the building under construction to 24 Hour Fitness, which will open a "Super Sport" concept with a basketball court and swimming pool.

An attached garage will have space for more than 300 cars.

The health club will take the top two floors, and the ground level will have 25,000 square feet of space for shops and restaurants.

Levan said he's not yet at the stage to reveal additional tenants.

Proximity to downtown

Levan said Midtown's popularity "has driven strong interest from chef-owned restaurants and national retailers for space in our project."

The attraction is the area's proximity to downtown, a growing residential base and accessibility to highways, he said.

To that end, Crosspoint is planning another 50,000 square feet of retail space on the fenced block.

The retail space could be combined with other uses, Levan said, but construction is not likely to start for at least another year.

The Gensler architecture firm designed the 24 Hour Fitness building, a contemporary, angular structure with lots of glass.

"We think design is important in terms of providing value and long-term sustainability of a neighborhood," Levan said.

Crosspoint has been developing its Midtown land gradually.

For years, the Levan family has been operating its High Fashion fabric store, which recently expanded to include a 125,000-square-foot, multi-level home furnishings store, High Fashion Home, which is part of the overall development.

When it's completed, possibly in 2010, The Mix is expected to have more than 300,000 square feet of retail space.

A alternative to agents

Houstonians are divided over the housing market.

Some say that even though sales have been off in recent months, last year was one of the best on record and that the market's simply returning to normal.

Others say Houston has become a buyer's market.

Erich Braun is taking aggressive steps to sell his two-bedroom, 1,340-square-foot townhouse in Piney Point Place outside the Loop.

The 28-year old isn't listing it on the MLS with an agent, which will save on real estate commissions.

Instead, he's built a Web site for the townhouse - galleriatownhome.com - which has details about the property and photos.

He's also putting it on other Web sites.

Braun is asking $204,900 for the townhouse.

What's more, he's giving $1,000 to any friend who brings him a buyer.

"I'm trying to give as many incentives as possible without going through real estate agents," he said.

Sugar Land to Pearland

The mayor of Sugar Land has found a sweet real estate deal.

But it's in Pearland.

Through his company, Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, Mayor David Wallace is developing a 160,000-square-foot office project at Shadow Creek Parkway and Texas 288.

TAB Lonestar Holdings, an affiliate of ZT Properties USA, is a co-developer.

The office complex, to be known as ZT Shadow Creek Business Center, will comprise two four-story, 80,000-square-foot buildings.

The first building is expected to open by mid-2009. BanDier Realty Partners and CB Richard Ellis are leasing the project.

High-end offices

Pearland's economic development group said the area now has enough housing and retail to attract more business needing high-end offices.

The National Realty Group is developing a project called The Office Grove at Pearland Parkway, targeting medical, financial and technology industries expanding in and relocating to Pearland.

Near Pearland Parkway and FM 519, the project will have 41,000 square feet of single-story, freestanding buildings.


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