October 1, 2015
River Oaks District Celebrates Grand Opening
Houston Business Journal
Although parts of the River Oaks District are still underway, the development had its grand opening celebration Oct. 1.
Some stores, such as Cartier and Tom Ford, are up and running, and Oliver McMillan's CEO Dene Oliver said that many more will open within the month. The multifamily component still has a way to go — Oliver said the project will probably take another year to be fully complete.
The retail component is 85 percent leased, and 95 percent of those retailers are new to Houston, Oliver said.
Brooks Howell, an associate at Gensler who served as project manager, said retailers have been drawn to the unique footprints on offer at River Oaks District.
"This project has this Rodeo Drive flavor, but from a retail tenant footprint perspective, there's nothing like it in town," Howell said. "There are alternate footprints, anywhere from an 800-square-foot space to a 5,000-square-foot, two-story signature expression of the retailer. No place else in town can give them that."
"These projects succeed or fail as much on the space in between the buildings as the buildings themselves," Howell said.
Duncan Paterson, a principal at Gensler in the company's Los Angeles office, was the partner in charge of designing the River Oaks District. He signed onto the project back in 2006 when San Diego-based Oliver McMillan first bought the land for the development, and said the recession halted and shifted the initial plans.
"At the beginning, there was an incredible exuberance to build even taller buildings. But the economy and realities of the situation dictated the ultimate design," Paterson said. "Now, I think it has a beautiful density to it, a beautiful scale."
Paterson also said the design team shifted away from a big-box anchor for the retail component of the mixed-use project, which will also include 92,000 square feet of office space and 279 apartment units.
"Five or six years ago, we thought we needed a big anchor tenant. But instead of a department store anchor, which would have disrupted the scale, we opted for multiple smaller, high-end anchors," Paterson said.
The developer has signed a long-term ground lease for land next to the River Oaks District for phase two of the project, which could include a hotel and more office and residential space.
"We've designed it like a district of the city. River Oaks is one of the older areas of the city, but it's always lacked this kind of place," Paterson said. "We've given it a heart."
Link to the original article here.