A New Use for an Old East End Building

That huge empty husk of a building at the corner of Leeland and Delano will be renovated into offices for ChaiOne, which designs and develops mobile apps. According to a press release, ChaiOne has bought the presently windowless, 25,245-sq.-ft., 3-story building that, in 1938, served as the first U.S. headquarters of Schlumberger. ChaiOne CEO Gaurav Khandelwal is also one of the owners of the nearby coworking incubator Start. This rendering of the building shows the possibility of ground-floor retail opening up in this mostly residential and industrial part of the East End, with a coffee shop appearing to face Delano St.

Rendering: ChaiOne

18 Comment

  • ChaiOne? Can I get a Masala Chai from a Chai Wallah? Or do I need to use a mobile app?

  • Perfect spot for EaDoBo

    (East Downtown Bork)

  • Vision and purpose. I like it.

  • so happy to hear about this. I drive by everyday and think, I wish they would do something with this. So many vacated buildings and open lots in Eado. So much potential to become a great new area.

  • Big thumbs up!

  • Nice conversion of a cool building that has faded my jaded a bit knowing it’s safe. And having a app business buying it and redoing it is a harbinger of hip for the area.

  • this article should be checked out on snopes. it’s the urban legend of swamplot approval all around. it’s like this blog’s version of porn.

    Inner city revival? Check
    East End with snazzy new name area? Check
    Re-purposing a worthless building? Check
    Retail on bottom? Check
    Rendering that will look 60% as good? Check

  • Terrible idea. It should be townhomes. The retail idea is stupid!

    Ok, not really. It’s great news.

  • East Downtown in general desperately needs retail aside from the alcoholic variety, the south part especially.

    Let’s hope the trend continues.

  • I think the reuse of this building is exciting, but I had to laugh at the rendering–across the street is a rather unpleasant liquor store-carefully edited out. Not to mention that the homeless/shopping carts are missing from the rendering too.

  • Robert H.,

    There is no liquor store across the street or within blocks of this site. A barber shop stands where they’ve drawn in vegetation the right side of the drawing.

    There was a “Potemkin” liquor store of sorts at Leeland and Dowling a couple years ago but that was closed down because it was just a front for selling drugs.

  • Really, the one at Leeland & Downing was a front!? I used to go there all the time and then get me a Sparkle burger. I liked the vibe on that corner.

  • TheNiche,
    I assume at one point it might have been legitimate. Then they closed and reopened. At that time, there were about 10 small bottles of liquor in the whole store and the guy looked very confused when we asked him to, you know, by a bottle of Jack (which he did end up selling to us after discussing with someone in the back). It closed again about 3 months later.

    I heard from someone who used to prosecute these types of cases that this is why it closed, but who knows what really happened…

    Similar thing with the gentleman’s establishment just down the road at Scott and Coyle. Prostitution sting is all I heard. I sometimes wish I could find out the details; on the other hand, I’m glad I don’t have a job where I have to deal with these things on a daily basis.

  • Luckily now that they closed down that store, nobody has any access to drugs in East Houston. The war on drugs is won!

  • This is just a couple blocks south of the other App operation in the Previously On links. What does a turf war between mobile developers look like?

  • @Alec, that “other APP operation” is Start Houston, a Co-working space created and operated by the same people doing this project. I.e.: no competition.

  • @drone, thanks, not sure how I missed that. Start seems like a cool outfit.

    TX/RX is also in the general vicinity; is this Houston’s (non-energy) tech district?

  • @Alec,

    There has been a lot of discussion about how to make exactly that happen. We’re still a ways away from there, but I know there is a lot of talk about making that happen.

    There are some challenges though: 1) due to the size and design of many of the buildings in the area, smaller spaces are few and far between. New start-ups don’t generally need 20k+ sq feet, nor can they generally afford it. 2) If you’re not attracting new start-ups, you’re fighting for established tech companies, many of which have already invested heavily in their current spaces, and don’t want to buy property. 3) The guys trying to build for tech are competing with other developers, who in many cases are more concerned with residential than commercial.

    I think both EaDo proper and parts of the East End around the new rail have the right building stock to make it happen, some adventurous people (like Gourav & Apurva) need to buy some of it to make it happen. It won’t happen overnight though – I think once more companies move in, that’ll help a lot. (I’ve been trying to place two new start-ups on the East End for a few months, it’s not easy!)