A Look at Midway’s Mixed-Use Plans in Upper Kirby?

Update, 5:45 p.m.: A rep from Midway tells Swamplot that these plans are “nearly a year old” and “conceptual in nature” and writes in an email: “We should have a better idea in the next 60 days of what the project will actually entail.”

Marketing materials on the website of Midway Cos. — developers of CityCentre and GreenStreet — include this rendering of a 16-story office building standing at the corner of Richmond and Wakeforest in Upper Kirby. The materials show the building as part of a “mixed-use pedestrian-focused transit node,” with additional restaurants and retail, that Midway appears to be planning with the Upper Kirby Redevelopment Authority here to jazz up Levy Park. An application to reduce the setback on this site along Richmond was approved in July.

Also included in the materials are renderings of a 300-unit loft building facing the Southwest Fwy. and flanking a greenspace:


This is the view from the park looking at the rear of the office building:

And here are renderings of the 300-unit loft complex:

Earlier this month, Midway signed oil traders Vitol to be the lead tenant of the office building.

Renderings: Midway

30 Comment

  • No H&M on the first floor?

  • underutilized park? i thought it was a popular but not really well known neighborhood greenspace. Maybe the play ground is underutilized. This park attracts more of the grown up crowd who like to play league baseball/softball/kickball,
    walk their dogs, and just relax during a lunch break. Other than the road noise of 59 the park already has a lot going for it. I’m all for the development along wakeforest but they should just leave the park alone. and that includes those uninspiring lofts.

  • I suppose the available footprint area had something to do with this, and it may not be a huge difference, but I’d swap the building locations. If I was looking for a place to live I’d much rather be a block or two away from a freeway rather than on top of one. The noise considerations that drive that aren’t as big a deal in an office. Then again, there are people willing to spend a gajillion bucks and still live right up against a set of main line railroad tracks…

  • I’m hoping for a Greenway Plaza/Upper Kirby location of Bork. I’m not putting up with Galleria traffic to go there.

  • Where on earth are all these people walking to in the drawing? Perhaps happy hour at the strip club down the street?

  • I bet the building locations were chosen to 1: be on corners, and 2: avoid putting the high-rise office building directly across from the existing 3 story apartments on the other side of Eastside Street. The plan makes sense to me. As far as being next door to a freeway: it apparently isn’t a big deal. Plenty of apartments all over Houston are next to freeways.
    The bigger thing is the setback variance. I like setback variances. They allow for dense, urban development and that’s a good thing. But the City really ought to drive a hard bargain on them. They should be a way for the City to demand streetscape improvements and other things that we couldn’t otherwise get under our current development regulations. In this case it looks like they did that, with the improvements to Levy Park. It should be the general rule for variances.

  • I hate the color brown.

  • With the boom in office and residential, single floor retail inside the loop and in the Galleria area in Houston is increasingly being viewed as an underperforming asset. The interests of the pony-tailed, fair trade coffee drinking, liberal smart growth advocates and the big money real estate investors are going to become more aligned in Houston in the next decade.

  • Maybe they are headed to happy hour at the Queen Vic or looking for some free wine at one of the many nearby galleries. There are actually quite a few options in the area beside the Pink Pussycat or Diamond Cabaret as I think it is now called.

  • I’m all for the building along Richmond, that corner could really use some help. But those lofts in that back look like the are going to destroy the kickball/baseball/softball field, which is what brings most visitors to Levy Park. Why not put the lofts on the other side of the park along Wakeforest in the empty field. Eastside Street is already filled with parking from the Apartments across from Levy park.
    Any developer/architect who has spent time on this site during rush hour (when all the commuters are on the road) would notice urban citizens strolling around in the park with their dogs and participating in a game of kickball right where they want to put the lofts. Also, it looks like they may have left out the community garden in their rendering, that better not vanish too.

    Again, I am all for the building on the corner of Wakeforest and Richmond, it is desperately needed, but I am totally against the location of the lofts in the back, at least move them to the other side of the park where it is just an empty, barren field.

  • @heyzeus,

    You’ll be happy to know that Bork is expanding to Austin! Though they are going to bring a “Houston vibe”, so watch out for endless discussions on forums about whether Austin is truly ready to be Borked.

  • @ZAW: I’d have to check the city’s maps to make sure, but the Richmond site likely qualifies for the Transit Corridor rules, which have the urban design standards already included if you want reduced setback.

  • People just cant stand having plan old green space. They have to find a way to dump a bunch of stuff there. I am sure we will get some never used picnic benches and more kids playground equipment. Houston has an exploding young adult population and with that comes even more sports clubs and pickup games. Funny thing is, these team sports are one of the few times people in Houston are willing to go out and battle the heat. Do you know how hard it is to find some open space to run around or a backstop to play ball? It looks like it is about to get even harder.

  • There’s no way a Houston-based Bork could understand the unique vibe and culture of Austin. I bet Bork has never had a breakfast taco while listening to Townes Van Zandt and drinking a Lone Star tallboy outside the Pecan Grove trailer park. Don’t Bork My Austin!

  • Why does the city even have rules on set-backs if they are so easily appealed?

  • #8:
    What brings this convergence between “liberal smart growth advocates” and “big money real estate investors” is density. Increasing density increases the value of the underlying land, eventually to a point where multi-level parking structures, high density mixed-use, etc., start to make economic sense. It also gets developers to push for reduced setbacks, thus making for a more walkable streetscape.
    Highland Village, Rice Village, and Upper Kirby all have examples of this happening. Montrose is dense enough to follow suit, and the Washington Corridor and the Heights may eventually get there as well. Now all we have to do is get over our knee-jerk opposition to any form of densification.

  • Get real, the old Austin was lost 30 years ago, Austin now is just like Houston or Dallas, only with a much worse skyline and douches walking around wearing the ridiculous, Keep Austin Weird, Shirts. The only thing weird about Austin in 2013 is that it still thinks it’s Austin 1970. I like Austin, and have lived there, but Austinites act like the city is San Deigo or San Francisco, which it certainly is not. Austin lacks culture, it has no great Art Museums (The Blanton is UT’s museum), a horrid symphony, a poor Opera, inadequate freeway system, a pathetic Zoo, zero professional sports teams, and no light rail. When people in Austin start running down Houston, I just look at them in amazement, and think, you all should be wearing a shirt that says, Keep Austin Delusional.

  • Funny. I have a pretty big place on the next major intersection east (Richmond/Shephard) and every time someone asks to buy it, it’s someone that wants to blow it up and rebuild.

  • Well that was as expected. Borkborkbork.

  • Austin has light rail and a bad semi-pro football team (the ‘Horns).

  • 18- Austin has a light rail system: http://www.capmetro.org/.

  • Angostura – it’s not about overcoming a “knee jerk opposition to density,” as you put it. It’s about figuring out how to accommodate greater density while enhancing our city and the quality of life of those who live in it. At least, that’s what our discussion should be focused on.
    There are people who say that, to accomplish this goal, we need zoning – like every other city. I don’t think we do. What we need is grass-roots planning and better communication and cooperation between developers and neighbors – with the City as referee if necessary.
    The setback variance process is, or could be, an example of this — if the City responded to every variance application with a laundry-list of off-site improvements that came from the neighbors. A sort of “scratch our constituents’ backs and we’ll scratch yours” approach.

  • The words “reduced setback” always make me cringe, but if they’re doing it to preserve Levy Park, that’s not a problem. The project seems like a good fit for Greenway.

    On the other hand, that 40-story tower going up at Alabama & Weslayan is just a scant couple of yards from the intersection. They have plenty of room; why build that behemoth right on the frickin’ corner?

  • True, Austin has one light rail route, but this is a city that goes on and on about being responsible environmentalists and the polition of cars, you’d expect them to have the most extensive light rail system in the state, instead that metal goes to ….. Dallas. That was really the point I was making about Austin Rail.

  • Btw, Austin’s rail is not actually light rail, it’s a commuter line, and a sad one at that. Ridership has been abysmal. It starts in the distant NW suburbs, avoids campus and the capital area by several miles, and dead ends in a fairly empty eastern part of downtown. Plans to build an actual urban light rail system that connect to it have been pushed back several times and there’s a good chance it wouldn’t even survive a ballot initiative, because the commuter line has been such a failure. Car-lovin’ Houston is lightyears ahead on this front.

  • Folks, to reiterate my earlier comment – Richmond was voted to be designated as a Transit Corridor street by the City. Therefore provision for reduced setback is already made if their site design and interface with the public sidewalk meet some urban design criteria laid out in Chapter 42 of the CoO. No negotiation with Planning Commission would be necessary – but you should get a much better pedestrian environment, at least along that property.

  • Didn’t Bork start out as a chef’s supply store in Sweden?

  • #18. i hate austin, but at least it and its residents have an identity. Austin’s culture comes from the people who live, work and play there, past and present. Museums or sports teams don’t identify a cities character.

  • Think traffic is bad now during rush hour and weekends. It is going to get lot worse in that area. I could understand a couple of houses but a 300 tenant geez. But I guess it’s all about the money after all.