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Goin' Uptown: $1.2 billion overhaul of shopping center includes high-rise residential tower

Uptown Park sign
Plans are ready for Uptown Park to get a $1.2 billion transformation.
Uptown Park tall trees and sidewalk
The first part of the redevelopment plan is the demolition of a buiding occupied by several retailers, including Baker, shown here at left.
Uptown Park sign
tasting room uptown park patio
Uptown Park tall trees and sidewalk

Uptown Park, a European-style shopping center on the west side of Loop 610 at Post Oak Boulevard, is getting a $1.2 billion transformation into a denser urban development that could include several high-rise residential towers, office buildings, a hotel and more retail space.

The existing one-story shops and restaurants will be demolished at a gradual pace replaced with taller buildings that yield more revenue, says the center’s owner, AmReit, a Houston-based development firm.

 “It’s the next generation of Uptown development,” says John Breeding, president of the Uptown Houston District. 

It will take years to redevelop the 17-acre center, which currently has tenants including McCormick & Schmick’s, Longoria Collection, High Gloss, Crave Cupcakes, Café Express and about 40 other stores and eateries. Over time, perhaps as long as a decade, the one-story buildings will be replaced by taller buildings.

The first part of the redevelopment plan will be the demolition of a building occupied by several retailers, including Baker, an upscale designer and manufacturer of home furnishings; Peluche Décor and Bella Rinova.

AmReit said it has reached an agreement with a major national developer to build a luxury residential tower above 20,000 square retail space on the “Baker site” – the first of the seven development sites in Uptown Park.

The Uptown Park center, located north of San Felipe, was developed by Interfin and purchased by AmReit in 2005.  The Baker store is on the north wide of the Uptown Park center.

The Uptown Park redevelopment points to the future development patterns of the Uptown Houston area, which is becoming more dense with high-rise projects replacing smaller buildings, says John Breeding, president of the Uptown Houston District organization.

“It’s the next generation of Uptown development,” Breeding says.

High-rise development 

One-story retail buildings and small apartment complexes will be torn down to be replaced with high-rise development that makes maximum use of the underlying land, Breeding says. It has been happening already as Wulfe Co. demolished the Fashion Square center on Post Oak Boulevard and is replacing it with the multi-story Blvd Place mixed use development.  The 24-Hour Fitness near San Felipe was torn down and the 30-story BHP Billiton office tower is under construction there.

The Galleria mixed use development on the south side of the Uptown area was built in the early 1970s and it has been a defining catalyst, bringing more retail, office,  hotels and residential units over the years.  After a long dry spell, two new office towers opened up in Uptown last year and more office space is under construction now along with several high-rise residential towers.  With 23 million square feet of office space, more than 7,000 hotel rooms and 1,000 stores, the Uptown area is bigger than the downtowns in many cities in America.

In the meantime, all of Uptown’s one-story buildings are being scrutinized by developers who want to see if money can be made by building high-rise projects there. AmReit, for example, told its shareholders Tuesday that tearing down the Baker building in Uptown Park and putting in a high-rise residential tower instead will result in a 200 percent increase in net operating income for that parcel.

The redevelopment master plan for AmReit project was created by the Kirksey architecture firm.

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