Along the Shores of Buffalo Bayou

ALONG THE SHORES OF BUFFALO BAYOU Catie Dixon comes up with a few gems in her interview with the team marketing the 136-acre campus HQ at 4100 Clinton Dr. in the southern portion of the Fifth Ward just east of Downtown that Halliburton spinoff KBR has just put up for sale. HFF has given a name to what may be the “largest infill site” near a major U.S. Central Bus District: “Cityscape on Buffalo Bayou.” And members of the sales team believe it’s ripe for a mixed-use development, now that KBR’s industrial buildings have been demolished. Five office buildings dating from the early seventies (totaling 720,000 sq. ft.) and a 36,000-sq.-ft. employee center are still there. The property’s outstanding “water feature” is a mile of frontage on Houston’s scenic Ship Channel. [Bisnow] Image: HFF

24 Comment

  • I’m not getting my hopes up. The fact that the Astroworld land never became anything, Reagant Square hasn’t bore any fruit (I think that they’re supposed to start at least one building soon, though), and the dome is falling apart has given me no confidence that Houston can do anything big or worth while. This includes my lack of hope for anything cool to replace the downtown post office building. I think I might change my handle to ‘jaded_houstonian’.

  • Part of what annoys me about these huge tracts is that people seem to think they need a unified plan to make it work. Invariably the unified plan involves unrealistically ambitious projects and it sits empty for years.

    What’s wrong with laying out a street grid and selling off lots to the highest bidder?

    All the risible plans in the world won’t change that Houston would be better off with yet another area of tacky townhomes and strip malls than with a rusting industrial site waiting years for planning and analysis to finish.

  • Many will think I’m crazy, but I don’t care…

    Buffalo Bayou (even on the east side of downtown) can be an aesthetically pleasing stream, and could be developed into something nice. Look at the recent improvements and re-naturalization at Eleanor Tinsley park, just a mile upstream. The section between downtown and the Ship Channel (the S.C. technically does not begin until the Turning Basin, about 4 miles east of downtown) is currently mostly idle with vegetated banks and a surprising variety of wildlife. A few more floating litter booms like they use upstream would clean it up a little more, and make for a nice park-like setting.

  • Unfortunately I don’t have my hopes to high for this property. Like others have mentioned there are so many other large tracts of land that arent nearly the size of this property and they haven’t even been developed. For example the astro land plot, reagant square, the hardy yards property, river oaks district, hell blvd place can’t even get off the ground properly. It just doesn’t seem like Houston can ever get any great developments. So I doubt anything will be happening with this site anytime soon.

  • The old BR HQ?

    Just drive over and use your nose. Just smell.

    Of course, tours of the 69th St. Sludge Plant could be included…

    Perhaps if you live in the area and are “used to” (possible?) the horrible stench, then maybe for East-enders.

    I’ll pass. I hated going there for KBR biz, and I was getting paid…..

    JMO…but NO TAX $, no abatements, nada.

  • Superdave, you’re crazy. But you ain’t wrong.

  • Spoonman,

    I agrees. Subdivide and layout a tentative street pattern. Then lots can be sold off in chunks.


    You are correct in the beauty that already exist and can exist for that section of the bayou. The BPA has been very vocal and doing what they can to make that stretch a greenway. Redevelopment along that corridor can assist in that step.

    I think it’s safe to say that this site will likely not go industrial again since it’s upstream of the turning basin. It more a matter of is there demand to do a large scale project.

    Maybe the seller can take Spoonman’s idea and separate it out. If 25-50% of the land develops and also does some work along the bayou is better than nothing.

  • Maybe the city could build a new sports stadium and bring in a pro hockey team!!

  • Rich Kinder – this is your change to make yourself the King of Houston.

    Go for it!

  • Still too many opportunities to build on the west side of downtown to expect a lot like this to attract anything. Smart thing to do is to buy it, demo all the buildings, remediate, and hold it. Once the west side of downtown fills in and gets East Coast pricey, this lot will more than double in value for what it would take to buy it today.

  • Boy, lots of negativity here. Houston does have some success stories out there, too. I’d consider the City Centre project a good example of a new mixed-use development on a former (eyesore!) mall site.

    The last time I checked, there seems to be lots of good progress taking place at Blvd. Place again. I think the developer’s can be excused for a slower than anticipated development schedule — especially when the worst recession in our lifetimes froze the capital markets around the nation. The money for these projects rarely come directly out of a developers pockets – they come from banks, life cos, pension plans, etc… not located in Houston. Other projects are also being revisited (i.e. River Oaks District) – revised in some ways – but will be looking to start construction now that $$ is available again. It should also be noted that Houston is now on many outside investor’s radar — many of which were not comfortable with investing in Houston before. Thus, money is flowing into this region… and projects will be developed.

    Hopefully the KBR site will see lots of interest… and see new development appropriate for the area.

  • How about a park? That’s what the east side needs to get itself on the map.

  • This would be a great site for a scrap metal processing and transshipment yard.

  • I agree with the others that the thing which would really help urbanism in this city is to subdivide and lay out a street grid, with a swath of park along the bayou. No walls, no gates, plenty of access. Then in the future, extend the grid to I-10 and along the bayou. Let that road that borders the site be a commercial street. Most likely won’t happen though.

  • I’ve got a great idea that’s never been tried before. Let’s build a Hispanic themes market to tap into the growing Spanish speaking market of the region. We can make it a city initiative and use tax dollars to fund it. We need to think progressively for this will go a long way to solve social justice and food and Prada deserts and blah blah blah

  • Jon, what is a Hispanic themes market?

  • The build streets idea is so wrong. Drive by this property. The road to bayou is not as huge of distance as some of y’all think.

    Looking for the Kinder Foundation to turn this into the greenbelt park.

  • You been there?

    You’ve seen the near-by (

  • Yeah, I hadn’t looked at the map. There are already streets. Just subdivide the thing and sell it off to eager developers. No ridiculous plans.

    Especially not ones like the one for AstroWorld that looked like giant vulvas from the sky.

  • I worked out of this facility for a few months in 2002, back when Halliburton was on the verge of selling off some or all of its business units because the Iraq War/Cheney Vice Presidency hadn’t yet made them the viable war profiteers they became.

    Anyway, my first day on the job, I was watching the local nightly news, and they were doing a story about a body found in the Bayou. Something about the address caught my attention. Because it was the Clinton Drive address I was working at. Apparently someone in the parking lot spotted it.

    From google maps it looks like the area has changed a lot; there used to be mostly empty land, warehouses, and housing projects around, and now I see a lot of gated townhomes.

  • With all the tax payer money KBR made off the three billion dollar no-bid contract for engineering and strategic support for the Iraq war, perhaps they should donate it to the city to use as a park. Please, just don’t name it Dick Cheney Park!!!

  • We’ve been waiting for a mixed use development like Regent Square for a few years now. I’m beginning to think that it won’t be done in our lifetime.

  • Used to work for KBR and ran over to Clinton every now and again. The people saying KBR owes this city anything are mistaken. The firm built Minute Maid Park at cost and absorbed significant warranty losses related to shoddy subcontractors (who were strongly suggested by the City).

    As far as I know, there is still some significant abatement that needs to be done here. As of a year ago employees were told to lock their doors/windows and not stop for any reason, I don’t see how that’s changed. This is not going anywhere.

  • Did anyone ever hear who bought this property?