A major change has quietly taken place at Rice Village. Houston-based company REIS Associates, LLC now manages the property, taking over for Trademark Property Company, the Fort Worth-based firm that has overseen the property for the past five years.
Neither Trademark nor Rice Management Company, the division of Rice University that manages its $6.3 billion endowment (including Rice Village) would comment on the circumstances that led to Trademark leaving the role. Regardless of what those exact details are, Trademark’s tenure brought significant and lasting changes to the area.
“Over the past five years, together, Trademark and Rice significantly revitalized the retail and F&B mix at Rice Village and greatly improved the financial performance during this period with new management and fresh retailers and restaurants, including several first-to-market concepts, Trademark Property Company managing director and chief investment officer Tommy Miller said in a statement provided in response to CultureMap’s request for comment. “The success of this remerchandising was greatly influenced by a major rebranding, investment in new and existing public space, new parking management system and garage upgrades, new facades and storefronts and the acquisition of additional strategic properties.”
Trademark oversaw physical changes to the area, such as creating the public space on Morningside that replaced a parking lot with an area that has seating and games, which had the effect of extending the patios for three restaurants. In addition, the stores along Amherst and Kelvin have been upgraded with new storefronts that replaced the dated strip center look, expanded walkways, and more.
Perhaps the biggest change can be seen in the mix of restaurants in the development. Establishments such as Baker St. Pub, Kubo’s, Yum Yum Cha, and La Madeline have been replaced by high-profile national restaurants such as Hopdoddy and Shake Shack. Steel City Pops and SusieCakes began selling treats. Over the next week, upscale sandwich restaurant Mendocinco Farms and ultra-popular salad restaurant Sweetgreen will both open to further upgrade the mix of options.
This fall has the potential to make the area an even more popular dining destination courtesy of Sixty Vines, a wine-driven restaurant from Dallas, and Politan Row, a food hall from the operators of St. Roch Market in New Orleans.
On the retail side, stores such as trendy glasses store Warby Parker, beauty store Bluemercury, women’s clothing boutique Altar’d State, and hair salon Madison Reed have all kept Rice Village competitive, even at a time when new developments such as River Oaks District and Heights Mercantile meant shoppers had plenty of new destinations that could have lured them away.
For its part, REIS has hired Aj Coffee to serve as Rice Village’s senior general manager. She brings extensive experience to her role, including stints at the Simon Property Group and Endeavor Real Estate Group, where she oversaw the Domain Northside in Austin.
“I’ve been in the management industry for over 30 years and I still get excited at the prospect of a new venture,” Coffee said in a statement provided by Rice Village in response to CultureMap’s request for comment. “The Rice Village District is such a special property to Houston and I love its rich history. I’m so honored to become a part of this iconic community.”
Whether REIS has more changes planned for the area isn't clear, although the property does still have some room for new tenants. For example, the Mi Luna space remains empty. Regardless, Rice Village's status as one of the inner loop's premier shopping and dining destinations seems secure for the immediate future.