CityCentre Developer Midway Makes a Move on That 136-Acre Former KBR Site Along Buffalo Bayou in the Fifth Ward

Former KBR Campus, 4100 Clinton Dr., Fifth Ward, Houston

Whatever’s in store for the 136-acre former KBR site along the the Ship Channel at 4100 Clinton Dr., CityCentre developer Midway now looks to be involved. Documents filed with the county clerk’s office near the end of May reveal that Cathexis Holdings recently sold the site to KBRN, an entity connected to Midway through a recently minted corporate partnership (and officially located down the hall from Midway’s CityCentre office.)

And might Midway — which also heads the team that turned failed Downtown Mall Houston Pavilions into GreenStreet, and is developing the Kirby Grove park-and-office-building complex along the banks of the Southwest Fwy. in Upper Kirby — have some big office-shopping-residential-and-park-y plans in mind for this vast property, which lies about a mile and a half downstream from Downtown? A couple of clues are out there:


Midway’s annual report from 2015 mentions plans for a major mixed-use project along Houston’s “historic riverfront.” The KBR site, set amid other historic and current industrial operations, is bordered by about a mile of the northern bank of Buffalo Bayou. (The Turning Basin, where that same waterway officially takes on the name of the Houston Ship Channel, is less than a mile to the east.) Midway has also been applying for a trademark for a yet-unannounced project called Northbank Buffalo Bayou; the company published the legal notice required as part of that application process just a few days after the KBRN sale documents were signed.

Among the property’s colorful and still-industrial neighbors: the Proler Southwest metal recycling facility, across Hirsch Rd. and Japhet Creek. Here’s a photo of its bayou frontage from earlier this year, when it was still partially inundated by Tax Day floodwaters:

Sims Metal Management Proler Southwest Scrap Recycling Facility, 90 Hirsch Rd, Galena Park, Houston, 77052

Images: LoopNet (aerial listing photo), Bryan Parras/T.E.J.A.S (flooded Proler facility)

Sold on the Ship Channel

24 Comment

  • Houston Riverwalk????!!!????

  • Of note: The majority of the Ship Channel is a restricted waterway, meaning recreational vessels are prohibited. The upper limit for this zone is the railroad swing bridge near Hedrick Street and the lower limit is the Battleship Texas.
    So if they release renderings of this mixed-use development showing a marina, those boats will in actuality be ‘landlocked.’

  • @Orang – They do the bayou tours (Motorized boats) from right around the corner there and the boat dock is right around the corner for Kayaks. I dont doubt your statement but maybe there are some exceptions.

  • Midway’s annual report from 2015 mentions plans for a major mixed-use project along Houston’s “historic riverfront.”

    River front???

  • The redevelopment plan needs to address connectivity with the surrounding areas. Right now, the site is somewhat pinched off and inaccessible. Hirsch and Jensen tie into the street grid on the south side of the bayou, but are hard to get to from anywhere outside of the immediate neighborhood. On the north side, the 10/69 interchange is mostly in flyover mode as they leave downtown, leaving few exits and access roads for local trips.

  • SuperDave, the immediate area around the site and across the bayou are in Gentrification mode and I disagree with your assessment. I work in the area and the access to everywhere and all major freeways is really quite easy. 5 minutes to downtown or the BBVA stadium, 10 minutes to all the shopping in Sawyer Heights, 20 to 25 minutes to the Galleria. I currently live in Spring Branch and it only takes 20 to 25 minutes to get to my home.
    The amount of homes being built rivals EaDo and Mid-Town. The south bank of the bayou already has hike/bike trails in place and there is a large piece of land directly across the bayou that is owned by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership. Currently on this land are the “Historic Silos” and there are homes going up next to them now.

  • I’ve always liked the old B&R building on Clinton.

  • i think this is an awful spot for anything like CityCentre. CityCentre has a lot of affluence all around it (or at least upper middle class). Although the areas around this site are transitional and improving, I have to think that the amount of money in a five mile radius around this site is dwarfed by CityCentre.

  • This is a very exciting development in the KBR Story. Connectivity will have to be increased a bit, but its not that bad. Jensen exit directly from I-10 East and back to I-10 west is very accessible and convenient. I imagine that the I-45 realignment can improve the needed connectivity. It will also bring a lot more highway traffic to the development.

  • @New Home Guy

    Thank you for illustrating my point.

    “5 minutes to downtown or the BBVA stadium [1 mile at an avg speed of 12 mph], 10 minutes to all the shopping in Sawyer Heights [2.7 miles @ 16 mph] , 20 to 25 minutes to the Galleria [why would someone drive here from the Galleria?].”

    Also, you fail to factor in rush hour conditions which gridlock the downtown freeway interchanges twice a day. At those times, the customer base will be utilizing those side street access points I mentioned, which need improvement to handle a large development.

  • This means that two large sites (KBR and MDI) are now in the hands of reputable developers (Midway and Lovett). Getting both sites developed would be a transformation of the area on a scale that’s uncommon even in Houston. Townhouses have already been developing just to the north of the KBR site for years, and now they are getting built on the south side of the Bayou north of Navigation. Plus St. Arnold has its own ideas for a new district just across the I-69/I-10 interchange. Not sure what the status is of the mostly vacant land on the west side of Jensen south of I-10.
    Adjacent legacy industrial uses aside, that stretch of the Bayou can be quite lovely.

  • Htownproud – I agree and don’t believe that what you’ll see here will be a City Center II. It would probably start with a lot of Residential, some practical retail and green/recreational space. The property is so large, however, that it will take a long time to develop. But over time higher density likely. Without a significant tenant, it is hard to imagine much Office space being supported here, this close to DT, though. Hopefully, Midway will have an announcement of their own soon.

  • @superdave – This spot is in the ultimate counterflow position to rush hour traffic (with the exception to 59 south which always sucks). Not to mention that the surrounding area is still affordable enough for first time home buyers.

  • As someone who lives in the area, connectivity is actually great. I can go on 59, i10, or 45 within minutes and head any direction. It also gives me options if 1 pathway has a lot of traffic. If I’m going west I can take i10 or 59 south. I can go into downtown by i10 or back roads. It’s generally against heavy traffic like someone else mentioned.

  • They should have sold this site to UT for their new campus.

  • Midway has shown that they develop with a spreadsheet first. They will build what they think will give them a good return on their dollar in the market they think they will have in a few years. I could see another City Centre type mixed use development with a lot of the same midpriced restaurants and shops and less of the high dollar ones for the retail and food components. With more lower priced townhomes and condos and less Class A apartments for the residential. Not sure how much office space they would try to put in that location. I could see them sitting on the property for a few years while the economy is slow and the multi-family housing and business office space markets work themselves out. They won’t care about the highway access or impact on traffic. But to be successful this new development will have to be more connected to the surrounding local community that City Centre is. A large part of City Centre’s business has been people visiting from out of town, oil & gas business, and people coming from other parts of metro Houston. Most of the local population of the neighborhoods right around City Centre avoid it as much as possible and do not spend a lot of time there. The older Town & Country section to the south probably gets more local business because of the retail establishments there. With new similar type developments coming on further west on I-10 City Centre will lose a lot of the Katy./Cinco Ranch business.

  • Fantastic Location. Would have been great if this site could have been the Houston Botanical Garden site. I also wouldn’t mind seeing a relocation of the Houston Zoo to this site and reclaiming the current Zoo location for more free/recreational green-space and fields. Aside from my wishful thinking, this site is in good hands with Midway and look forward to seeing this redeveloped.

  • I think the obvious need in this development is a major grocery chain, like HEB or the less expensive version of Whole Foods. That’s what this area has been missing. Once that happens, it’s over. Eado will become one of the most desirable locations in this city.

  • There’s no way they will build anything close to City Center type development, that area is still way too murdery for that. City Center survives on folks from surrounding Memorial area and Katy yuppies waiting out traffic, there’s no that type of clientele by the ship channel. The approaches are also important, nobody is going to drive past 12 crackhouses and dodge hobos to get a drink at YardHouse. Instead of Ruggles on the Green, it will be called Ruggles on the Superfund Site.

  • I don’t know why anybody in their right mind would assume that we’re going to get a City Centre II at this location. There’s no equivalent of the 77024 zip code anywhere nearby. The demographics don’t exist to support that. Absolutely not.
    However, as Local Planner pointed out, this and Lovett’s site will add rooftops and an upper-middle-class population to an area that has already been established as a gentrifying area. Perhaps what is most important is that the sheer scale of the two developments is going to justify a lot of marketing and promotion for each, and that sales traffic is likely to spill over into smaller competing developments.
    Long-term, if I was going to buy land in Houston, I’d be looking in this area or at Spring Branch. That goes for commercial land, too. There will be greater commercial potential than there is at present.

  • There’s a lot of cities that would have put forward all sorts of tax incentives to entice a developer to to something with a close-in, urban tract like this. I’m glad Houston’s not one of them.

  • @Superdave – I am not sure where you live but in the city we have these things called stoplights that lengthen any commute. I just drove from that sight to BBVA/Minute Maid and it took me 7 minutes at 5:00 pm in heavy traffic. As I shared in my previous comment, I live in Spring Branch(Westview and Bingle) and my commute at 6:00 pm is about 21 minutes while navigating the I-10/I-45 interchange and the I-10/610 interchange. It may not be a City Centre II but it will be a viable area that is only 5 to 10 minutes from downtown. My wife and I are now looking at purchasing one of the new homes in the area south of the Bayou as both an investment and a lifestyle choice.

  • This side of the Buffalo is going to get the 21st century urbanist treatment; restaurants, residential, recreation. To see it in 100 years would be startling. And this key piece is going to get that process moving a little faster. I think the idea of a small riverwalk is in the plans of the BB Partnership so it would not be surprising to see that included somewhat in this project.

  • I live across the street from this site. Myself and several other members of the east bayou district purchased in this area because of its development potential. Until now, the area has received little attention. We are excited to hear that this development is moving forward…and might include a grocery! It truly is an amazing location–so diverse and accessible! You can easily hop on I-10, US 59 and I-45 in all directions, downtown is just around the corner, and it takes me 15 min to get to IAH (via Hardy Toll Rd). Can’t wait to see the development plans!