Just call it the Cuisine Tower.
Some of the city’s top chefs are lining up to be culinary anchors of a new office tower under construction near the Galleria.
The building is the 22-story BBVA Compass Plaza, an office tower that will be completed next year.
Chef John Sheely, owner of the acclaimed Mockingbird Bistro, has leased 4,000 square feet in the building, which is located at 2200 Post Oak Boulevard.
Sheely tells CultureMap his new restaurant there will be an osteria with high quality pasta, chops, pizza. “I’ve always wanted to do Italian,” he says.
And Hugo Ortega, the James Beard Award finalist who created Hugo’s restaurant, is preparing to create an 8,000 square foot eatery in the same tower, according to people in the real estate community. A spokeswoman for the Ortega organization says it is premature to discuss any new deal that Hugo may have on his plate.
Sheely said his new restaurant there will be an osteria with high quality pasta, chops, pizza. “I’ve always wanted to do Italian,” he says. The Italian cuisine will be a departure from the menu at Mockingbird Bistro, which is located on Welch Street near Shepherd Drive.
The chef-driven movement to Post Oak Boulevard reinforces a long tradition of quality eateries locating on that street, going back to the early days of Cafe Annie and Tony’s and continuing today with RDG + Bar Annie, Masraff’s and more. With the high concentration of nearby office buildings, Post Oak offers upscale eateries the chance to attract business lunch customers with expense accounts to pad up the weekday revenues.
The BBVA Compass building is rising on a 6.5-acre parcel with a lot of potential. The site is just north of the Galleria, between Westheimer and San Felipe.
The developers plan to develop a hotel and another office tower on the remaining land next to the new building. The office project is being developed by Stream Realty Partners and Redstone Cos. in a 50/50 joint venture.
The second office tower on the Post Oak site probably will be about 20 stories and construction won't start for at least a year or two — after the first tower is leased .
Steve Lerner, president of Redstone, says the Post Oak hotel is being carefully considered and will move ahead as soon as financing is secured. Look for a hotel of about 200 rooms with a brand name that will appeal to business travelers. Redstone also owns the Houstonian Hotel and the Hilton Dallas/Rockwall Lakefront Hotel and other holdings.
The second office tower on the Post Oak site probably will be about 20 stories and construction won't start for at least a year or two — after the first tower is leased.
A recent “topping out” ceremony celebrated the construction progress for the BBVA Compass Plaza tower, which will open next spring. The 312,000-square-foot office building is more than 60-percent leased currently with the namesake bank taking the seven top floors and a ground-floor lobby space.
Redstone has owned the Post Oak land for many years, waiting for the right time to develop it. But the office market in the Galleria area softened as downtown, the Energy Corridor and The Woodlands became hot office markets. Starting a new office building was not viable — most office buildings were just struggling to hang onto the tenants they had. So the land remained fallow.
As the Houston economy picked up, Redstone, with its partner, Stream Realty, broke the construction drought and broke ground on the BBVA Compass Plaza last year.
“When this project is delivered in 2013, it will be the first new building in the Galleria area in 30 years,” said Preston Young, regional managing partner of Stream.
Another new building rising on the horizon is following close behind the BBVA Compass Plaza. Skanska is developing another 20-story office tower in the Galleria area, right off Loop 610.
Skanska’s tower, a 300,000-square-foot tower, will open later in 2013 on a site across the street from the Waterwall. No tenants have been announced, but activity and inquiries are strong, said Greg Mondshine, director of leasing for the Skanska building at 3009 Post Oak Boulevard.
Skanska, which is part of a large Swedish multi-national corporation, also is planning a major office tower in downtown Houston. Skanska will demolish the old Houston Club building at 811 Rusk and start a new office tower shortly. Mondshine said the Skanska downtown tower is in the design stage.
The Houston Club, which has been located in the 811 Rusk building since 1948, is merging with the Plaza Club and relocating to One Shell Plaza.
Ralph Bivins, former president of the National Association of Real Estate Editors, is founding editor of RealtyNewsReport.com.