How a Stretch of the Memorial Dr. Strip Earned Its Newest Strip Center

Park Place Memorial Strip Center, 5801 Memorial Dr., Bayou Bend, Houston

Katherine Feser has the inside scoop on how the $7 million strip center portrayed above — but loaded with a Dunkin’ Donuts, a dry cleaner, and — yes, a mattress store — is coming to land in its rightful place along the south side of Memorial Dr. just east of Westcott, 2 doors down from the MFAH’s Bayou Bend Collection. Developer Amir Taghdisi tells Feser he and his brother Alan chose not to build a 3- or 4-story office building with below-grade parking on the site “because it would have been an outdated format from the beginning.” Instead, the 10,000-sq.-ft. strip center is now under construction at the back of the three-quarters-of-an-acre lot, with rows of parking facing Memorial Dr. and Knox St.

Why think so small? “I had all the big names wanting to do a 30-story high-rise for lease,” Taghdisi tells Feser. But he says the homeowners association of Bayou Bend Towers, directly to the south, wouldn’t let him.


Park Place Memorial Strip Center, 5801 Memorial Dr., Bayou Bend, Houston

The Taghdisis’ Rama Companies bought the land at 5801 Memorial Dr. — formerly the site of the Golden Hunan Chinese restaurant (later La Mia) and a fan repair shop — from 3 separate owners. The condo tower’s HOA owned the third parcel, but would only agree to sell to the Taghdisis, he says, if they put a 70-ft. height restriction in place on the entire block between Birdsall and Knox streets. The restriction will last 30 years.

The towers on the ends of the new strip center will rise 38 ft. tall. Also coming to the center, now under construction and due to open in August: Express Rolls and a restaurant called Piada Italian Street Food.

Rendering and site plan: Rama Companies/Edge Realty Partners

The Towers and the Strip

26 Comment

  • I can’t help but think this seems really convenient. If I were a cynical person (which I am), I’d think that this involved the usual issues of cost/benefit assessment, and difficulty getting loans/insurance for anything other than the traditional strip center format.

  • I miss the old Texasdelphia location off Memorial.

  • “south side of Memorial Dr. just west of Westcott”

    Oops! Other direction! I read that at first in the RSS feed without the benefit of the graphic and was surprised/confused.

  • Must be nice to have private cash financing for your projects where the main purpose is to flow money from overseas into the US and not really caring about making an ROI. Not that it’s illegal or wrong, just explains how some of the projects in town get done while they’re clearly no-profitable and definitely non-bankable.

  • @bishbah: Thanks! It’s fixed now.

  • Surprised that the cost of acquiring that land and building a new strip center is justified by rental income from those tenants. I mean I’m trying to think of what the TOTAL rental income would be each month vs. the all in (land+building) price.
    Doesn’t make sense to me… But wtf do I know…

  • Sounds like Bayou Bend residents are much better / more proactive than SouthHampton residents when it comes to controlling nearby developments that may detract from their property.

  • Oh cool to see DD further their expansion in Houston – markets where they’re dominent they effect McDonald’s breakfast sales – time will tell its they can pull it off in a market as Houston this is not a huge coffee town.

  • Congratulations, Bayou Bend. You didn’t want a tower blocking your view of (the neighborhoods East of) Memorial Park, so now you get an ugly-ass strip center in which to procure any mattresses you may need in the next 30 years.

  • I drive by this intersection nearly every day. I’ve never been excited by what they’re putting in. Perhaps my mind will be changed one day.

  • Early Swamplot Award Nomination: The Ubiquitous Mattress Store!

  • Bernard, if he didn’t have to buy the property from the condo tower directly then it would have been a different story, but no way around it in this case. I’d say in 30 years time it’ll be ripe for a condo development, but by then I’m sure the existing condo towers will be able to afford to just buy the air space above any surrounding develpments to keep them as-is.

  • It is a crappy development, but Taghdisi is pretty smart. He is a young guy. If he holds the property for 30 years, he will be free of the restriction and can either flip it for a trillion dollars or redevelop it for equally big bucks. His retirement is 100% guaranteed with this property. Why spend any more than necessary to get a half decent cash flow out of this development when it will be torn up in 30 years? He probably got fire sale prices as the usual characters in this kind of land deal in Houston are too gray to want to hold something for 30 years.

  • I’d say this area of memorial dr has to be so utterly Houston that it’s becoming a parody of itself.
    Rice military has the largest concentration of townhouses in all of houston. It’s nestled between two premier parks and has multiple apartment and multifamily dwellings…… so what gets built around here? Strip centers. Dry cleaners. Drive through banks. Subways. Oh and to cap it all off, there is no way to safely cross Memorial or sidewalk network to get to the area. With 1/2 million dollar townhouses and 1+ million dollar homes, you’d expect more.

  • @Me mr, not sure why you’d say this isn’t a huge coffee town. Starbucks considers it one of their top markets.

  • “there is no way to safely cross Memorial or sidewalk network to get to the area. With 1/2 million dollar townhouses and 1+ million dollar homes, you’d expect more.”
    is this not by design? public infrastructure is not accounted for in standard of living metrics for these income ranges in Texas. who cares about the state of our roads and sidewalks when you can just buy a new car every 3 years (or every 3 months, same difference).

  • Yeah, this is a 50-year play. Basically what PMRG is doing on Montrose/Westheimer writ large. Classic Houston.

    As an aside, the whole thing of having this parkside expressway that drops to 35 and morphs into a suburban strip for all of 1/4 mile before resuming high-aesthetics high-speed is wonderfully convenient. Your last chance gas, your breakfast tacos and kolaches, your late-night eats… it’s all right there, no mucking about with U-turns or feeder roads required.

    And no, this stripmall won’t be a huge visual contribution… but who cares? The views just 100 yards to the south are about as aesthetically-pleasing as one can find in our fair city, and after all, isn’t that what matters? So much discussion of the urban form boils down to complaining about what we see from our car windows. But if the view from home and office is nice, isn’t that really what matters?

  • commonsense nailed this one.

  • DNAguy for the win!
    And where is the freaking grocery store for all those people? I don’t get it.

  • Part of this tract was owned by the Onstead family and they were asking around $120 a foot several years ago. I always wondered why no high rise went here given the triple digit land costs for at least part of it.

  • The height restriction issue should be a matter of public record. If anybody has a Courthouse Direct account and the deal hasn’t closed in the immediate past, then it’d be easy to either confirm this story as truth or leave it as an open question.

    I’m kind of cynical too, having actually been in the development business; but usually when things don’t turn out as magnificent as it seems like they would if the real world worked like a Sim City game, its a mundane financial constraint that is the root cause. However, developers rarely talk about those to the press. They’ll just do their thing and move on. If the developer has a story to tell about how something got to be the way it is, what is said may be disingenuous (although often it is not), but what is stated as fact should usually be taken as factually correct.

  • The height restriction is fact. I have read it with my own eyes in the deed. No one is trying to trick anybody here!

  • Another strip center? How urban of Houston, the big city with a suburban mindset.

  • Commonsense I doubt this deal was done to “flow money from overseas” and not caring about ROI. What investor wouldn’t want ROI? Use your business common sense here. Plus I’m pretty sure this is the same Taghdisi family that owns Oriental Rug Bazaar on Westheimer, an extremely successful business that has been around for decades.

    Every real estate developer has a different plan and a different timeline for each property. Don’t assume you know what the family is thinking.

  • Houston has a lot of strip centers because strip centers are great architecture. They aren’t great in the sense of “ooh, that’s pretty to look at”, but in the sense of structures that are useful. They occupy a sweet spot on a plot of investment, borrowing and revenue generation. Everyone involved, from the banker to the developer to the occupant to the customer, benefits. Everyone benefits except those looking for a pretty building to look at.

  • @ron, no reason to assume anything, development community is very small, everyone knows each other’s dirty laundry and how projects are financed in these still bank restricted times.

    @Memebag, yes and the last people are the ones that mean the least to any project.