East River’s Western North Shore Launch: Multiplex, Waterfront Museum, Plaza, Lots of Ground Floor Retail You Can Drive To

A leasing brochure just released by Midway reveals a detailed site plan for the first phase of the company’s planned development on a 150-acre former industrial site lining the north bank of Buffalo Bayou — here upgraded to riverine status. East River‘s drive-up urban conquest of the former KBR (previously, Brown & Root) campus begins on the far western edge of the Fifth Ward site, fronting Jensen Dr. and lining Clinton Dr. Portrayed in the plans and renderings: a 9-plus-screen multiplex movie theater, a new waterside home for the Houston Maritime Museum, a central plaza with a coffee pavilion (pictured), and almost 100,000 sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space, spread among the ground floors of 8 separate structures (including one enormous parking garage). Three of the structures are multi-story office buildings.

Here are some overall site plans of the development:


An avenue-like main drive-in entrance off Jensen Dr. would lead to the metal-sided building with the EAST RIVER sign (pictured at the top of this story), featuring 27,000 sq. ft. of retail on the ground floor and opening to a semi-circular plaza in the foreground; the theater would be upstairs, its main entrance facing the opposite side of the building and another bank of ground-floor retail across the street, lodged under 5 levels of a parking garage (labeled building G in the plans):

 (The southwestern edge of the garage block and a separate bank of retail space on its ground floor are visible in the left foreground of this driver’s-view image.)

At the southern edge of the development, an 11,000-sq.-ft. waterfront restaurant space fronted by an expansive patio (building E) would have views of the concrete silos on the other side of the bayou:

Directly to this building’s east, a museum is indicated; as a HAIF commenter noted in January, the Houston Maritime Museum appears to be the prospective tenant. (“We are pursuing a new and more central location just east of downtown Houston along the banks of Buffalo Bayou. . . . part of a large mixed-use development,” the museum’s director declares.)

Opposite the north entrance to the museum, a coffee pavilion facing a central plaza (B) crisscrossed by paths and various groundcovers is shown flanked by office buildings to the north (C) and east (D) and a 5-story residential structure to the west (M), all portrayed with additional ground-floor retail space:


Not detailed in the brochure, but pictured in part at the far left of the aerial site plan below: 2 midrise apartment complexes, each wrapping or connecting to their own internal parking garages, flanking the Jensen Dr. entrance to the district.

Here’s a site plan showing the intended layout of all 4 phases — turned sideways to fit our format better (north is to the right):  

Images: Midway Companies

Fifth Ward Incoming

19 Comment

  • The strange thing is, all this development right now seems to be before they dip their toes into the opportunity zone. Once that starts and this builds out ~50%, I could see this starting to change rapidly. They were not kidding when Midway said this land could fit 4 city centers. This area could be a savior for a lot of the businesses that are run down by the 45 expansion:”

    Tout Suite
    Neil’s Bahr
    Kim Son
    Little Woodrows (Although we prefer The New Potato)
    Noname Fit Studios
    True Anomaly Brewery (With Robo Journalism)

    There could be some immediate East End tenants rather than name brand filler.

  • Good looking project, great location. Hope this comes to fruition.

  • Awesome. Might want to consider covering the rooftops with solar panels (to run the sump pumps) and elevating the entire facility 35-40′ above the pool level of Buffalo Bayou though, or you’re going to have another Spaghetti Warehouse.

    If history taught us nothing…

  • Grocery Store???

  • Waiting for the flooding to begin. If I were Midway or any other developer I’d elevate all of the construction at least 10 feet above grade.

  • This would be a good spot for an SMG or an Alamo Dine-In Theatre.

  • All of these uninformed comments regarding flooding. . .
    First of all, this is located where the Bayou opens up into the larger Ship Channel. This portion of the Bayou did not flood at all during Harvey—the water did not even come that close to breaching the banks. I live in the immediate area and monitored the water level and flow on a daily basis during Harvey and have the photos and videos documenting that there were no issues. It is true that a portion of the property is in the 500 year floodplain, but I believe that will be part of the area with pathways/green space. I do not believe that any buildings will be constructed within the floodplain.
    Second, Midway is a large development company that has invested a ton of time and resources into developing these plans and making this happen. I’m absolutely sure that they have taken all of that into account and have the testing and studies to support their plans. I’d rather rely on those instead of erroneous anecdotal accounts from random people on the internet (no offense).

  • To my knowledge, this parcel of land did not flood during Harvey.

  • @HappyGoLucky the site was high and dry during Harvey.

  • Benzene.

    The one thing I agree with about this project: Calling it “East River”. Ask a New Yawker….
    There’s well over a hundred years of filth under the water, along the banks, in the soil. Remediated, uh, huh.
    That’s one of the most air-polluted parts of the entire state, 24/7/365. Enjoy the nearby offgassing! Flares!
    Storm surge? There’s no storm surge.
    Just like there’s no crime in every direction…within blocks.

    Hey guys, thanks for making MIDTOWN finally compare favorably with anywhere!

  • There was >15ft left before the water came close to topping the bayou in this area during Harvey. All of the site minus a park adjacent to the museum is above the 500 year flood plane. This property would never flood

  • Not within a flood plain ? It may be in AE or X, but it’s just a matter of time. The whole area is built on reclaimed swamp or alluvial plain, and the quality of the H20 in the immediate area is downright third world. Maybe the developer can pull some of the abandoned cars from the bayou that fronts the property, elevate them on a 30′ pole and call it an art installation. BOOM. NEA grant.

  • Really ugly. I hope this place has A LOT of security, it’s going to need it. What a disappointment, it looks like it was designed by UH dropouts.

  • I’m with HappyGoLucky on this one. How many people flooded for the first time with Harvey? How many with Ike? All I heard after Tropical Storm Allison was about so many people who flooded for the first time and didn’t have Flood Insurance. Up to Allision my grandparents had never had Flood Insurance. After that, I made them buy it. So far so good, but as Houston is slowly sinking, in my opinion it’s only a matter of time.

  • You people are fools. I hate to throw negativity on top of negativity but I simply dont know how else to phrase it.

    Trashing IMPROVEMENT so that it remains “trash” just doesnt make any sense to any logical person out there

    Go be miserable somewhere else because OUR COMMUNITY doesnt need your types.

    If you would just try an ounce of positivity, I promise your lives will improve exponentially.

  • The bayous east of Downtown are finally getting appreciated for their size and history. This is where Houston began. Downtown would’ve been in Harrisburg, where the Allen brothers first looked for land if Santa Ana et al hadn’t burned up all the deeds in 1836. Give it some time and the old industrial will morph into some mind-blowing development.

  • I have little familiarity with this part of town and only went there to visit KBR many years ago. This part of Houston has little appeal to me and I doubt that I will ever return. Good luck with the development.

  • Mr. Clean19, Dana-X and JE, unite! You are part of the critical mass that gets IT. The few of you Debbie downers go back to your burbs and stay in your autos while the rest of the developing world reaps the rewards of adding value to real estate. All of you arm chair quarterbacks, if you want to keep an area like the near east end poor and dirty, go out on a limb and DO NOTHING. If you want to get in the game and truly transform your city, please have your opinions and your “I thinks” rooted in facts and propose improvements. Kudos to Midway and like minded groups for adding value to our city and turning blight into vibrant centers for entertainment, commerce and living.

  • It seems a lot of the negative comments here are just plain naive – and from those who only visited the “KBR site many years ago”. It is laughable just how ignorant people can be and yet still take the time to post a comment here about an area they couldn’t give a crap about. How about sharing useful, factual information, like this:
    My wife and children and I have lived here for three years off Clinton and Bringhurst one block away from the East River site. There are NO homeless people living or camped in the area or along the Bayou along the entire stretch west of Jensen and all the way east to Tony Marron Park. NONE. I walk my dogs through the neighborhood and down Clinton at night, sometimes very late, and have NEVER in three years saw any criminal or suspicious activity or felt threatened in any way. Trash in the area is FAR less than many more affluent areas on the west side. The area is incredibly peaceful and quiet, and access to the freeways and downtown is super fast and easy. In three years, I have counted over 500 new homes that have been built here, with many, many more underway soon. We ave bought two properties here, and would buy more of we could. For us, this area is the best kept secret in Houston. There are easily enough residents here to support a higher-end grocery and other retail. Should the greater economy remain vibrant in the city and region, East River will be very successful. People do not understand what is coming with the 7-billion dollar North Highway Improvement project set to begin in 2020. The entire east side of downtown will be walk-able from over here with the green-spaces to be built over the freeway, not to mention more accessible by vehicle. So East River haters, go ahead and spew negativity and cynicism…and please continue to stay away from the area at night. It has been nice over here without you!