Category Archives: Uncategorized

Pedestrian-friendly plaza is latest part of Rice Village makeover

Houston Chronicle
Written by: Katherine Feser

A small parking area in a corner of the Rice Village will soon be a pedestrian plaza as part of an ongoing transformation of the longtime shopping and dining district.

Known as Morningside Plaza, the space will provide seating and free Wi-Fi in front of D’Amico’s Italian Market Cafe, Nao Ramen Houston and the soon-to-open Hopdoddy Burger Bar. It’s on Morningside Drive, between Times and University boulevards.

“Within the tight confines of Rice Village, our biggest challenge has been finding opportunities to add much-needed public space for the community,” Tommy Miller, managing director of Trademark Property Co., said in an announcement Monday.

“This plaza was basically created out of thin air. We’re creating an engaging gathering place framed by landscaped planter boxes with new shade trees and seating. It is time for this beloved but neglected stretch of Morningside known for its vibrant restaurant and bar scene to evolve, and hopefully this will be a catalyst for future improvements.”

Eleven parking spaces were eliminated to make way for the new Morningside Plaza, Rice Village spokesman Bernard Kaplan said. That is a small fraction of the more than 750 parking spaces in a region of Rice Village owned by Rice University and managed by Trademark Property. The area is bounded by Morningside, University, Kirby and Times.

A planned widening of the 130-foot length of the sidewalk along Morningside will create a more pedestrian-friendly walkway and provide access to food trucks, Kaplan said.

Patrons of food trucks such as Dough Cone, Smoosh Cookie and Yoyo’s Hot Dog, which park along Morningside Drive, will be able to order from the new 5-foot-wide sidewalk.

Completion is planned in early March in time for the Hopdoddy Burger opening.

Rice Village is changing the parking set-up, essentially flipping the paid and free spaces, Kaplan said. Newly installed meters, currently undergoing testing, are expected to be in service next week. Shoppers will pay rates starting at $1 per hour for prime spots in front of stores, while garage parking will be free for the first two hours.

The parking changes follow a 2015 study by Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research that found that as many as 1,000 spots are unused during peak demand times such as lunchtime or on Saturdays.

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New Morningside Plaza taking shape in Rice Village

Houston Chronicle
Written by: Katherine Feser

Trademark Property Co. is creating a public gathering space along Morningside as part of the transformation of the Rice Village shopping and dining district.

Known as Morningside Plaza, the space will provide seating and free Wi-Fi in front of D’Amico’s Italian Market Cafe, Nao Ramen Houston, and Hopdoddy Burger Bar, which is set to open in March. It’s located between Times and University Boulevard.

“Within the tight confines of Rice Village, our biggest challenge has been finding opportunities to add much-needed public space for the community,” Tommy Miller, managing director, Trademark Property Co.  said in an announcement.

“This plaza was basically created out of thin air. We’re creating an engaging gathering place framed by landscaped planter boxes with new shade trees and seating. It is time for this beloved but neglected stretch of Morningside known for its vibrant restaurant and bar scene to evolve and hopefully this will be a catalyst for future improvements.”

A new, wider sidewalk is also planned along Morningside to improve access to food trucks.

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Amon Carter Museum to Showcase Art at WestBend

Written by: Laura Belpedio

Photography from the Amon Carter Museum of American Art is coming to WestBend.

The Amon Carter museum and Trademark Property Co., developer of the WestBend mixed-use district at South University Drive and River Run, have collaborated on a new public art program that features reproductions of the museum’s photography collection. The exhibit is currently showcasing nine photographs that will be replaced with new images every six months.

The inspiration behind the program comes from Trademark Property Co.’s Conscious Place initiative, in which the company strives to make its developments a place of community and meaning, Trademark Property Co. CEO Terry Montesi says.

“Incorporating public art into our properties by partnering with local and national artists and museums is a key initiative for Trademark portfolio-wide because it helps elevate the purpose of our properties beyond retail and commerce. Art adds soul to a property, along with educational and inspirational elements,” Montesi said in a statement. “We are thrilled that WestBend can serve as a home for these pieces and hope that the community gets as much enjoyment from them as we do.”

Along with the photograph collection, five photographic murals created by TCU graduate and assistant registrar at the Amon Carter, Devon Nowlin, are also on display.

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Owl-themed modern sculpture lands in Rice Village

Gonzo247’s mural on Morningside Dr.

Houston Chronicle
Written by: Katherine Feser

California artist Nathan Mabry has created a modernistic owl-themed sculpture as the latest public art installation in Rice Village.

A blue origami-like aluminum owl, along with four smaller lifelike owls, are a nod to Rice University, which has been transforming the shopping district with the help of Trademark Property Co. The sculpture is on Kelvin Drive, just north of University Boulevard.

Nathan Mabry

“While researching Rice Village, I became interested in the vibrant history of the neighborhood and proximity to Rice University. I find myself particularly engaged with the mascot of Rice University, the Owl,” Mabry said in an announcement.

“It’s a powerful symbol in both antiquity and contemporary life. My work has long explored the depiction of birds from all facets of art history.”

Other Rice Village art elements, being managed by MKG Art Management, include a mural by Houston artist Gonzo247/Mario Enrique Figueroa Jr. on Morningside Drive. The Rice Village garage will be the canvas for the next project.

“We want Rice Village to be a place people love to visit for reasons other than just shopping,” Terry Montesi, CEO, Trademark Property Co., said in an announcement.

“We believe enhancing the visual environment improves the experience and makes visitors to Rice Village feel cared about.”

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Shopping Centers “Sell” Experiences To Attract Customers

Written by: Gilma Avalos

NORTH TEXAS (CBS11) – At a time when traditional anchor stores like Macy’s are closing locations across the country and customers are turning to the convenience of online shopping, store owners and developers are starting to think outside of the retail box.

Customers are no longer just interested in buying goods, said Edward Manuel, Senior Vice President of Development for Trademark Property. He said they want experiences.

“We are in the middle of an experience-driven economy,” said Manuel.

To avoid the demise of the traditional mall, modern shopping centers and developers must adapt to an evolving customer.

“Everything we do is surrounded around creating experiences,” he explained.

Trademark Property is behind Fort Worth’s new Waterside open-air shopping center.

It boasts anchor stores like Whole Foods Market and REI.

The 63-acre mixed use development also has amenities centered around providing experiences.

Tucked behind Taco Diner and Whole Foods Market is The Grove, a public space meant for everyone–not just shoppers–to enjoy.

There are corn hole toss boards and bocce ball courts. A community pavilion, invites people to sit back, watch a game on a big flat screen TV, meet friends, or sip on a beverage.

“It’s very inviting [there are] lots of places to sit and relax,” said Isaac Towne, who often spends lunch breaks at The Grove.

On a sunny afternoon, he enjoyed a buttermilk popsicle from Steel City Pops, and a good book. But he says he doesn’t feel any pressure to shop.

The park is dotted by creations from Austin artist Bob “Daddy-O” Wade, which honor the area’s history.

“These were old children’s play equipment from the Lockheed Martin Recreation Association days,” said Manuel.

Experiences are also on the menu inside Waterside’s restaurants and shops.

“Dining is much more than just eating. It’s about a total experience,” said Chef Marcus Paslay.

His new restaurant, Piattello Italian Kitchen, features a coffee bar and an open air kitchen.

“You can sit at the pizza bar here and watch them make your pizza, put it in the oven, bring it out and it goes right out to you,” he said.

Diners get a peek behind the scenes as the team prepares food on a busy kitchen island.

“A lot of the stuff that happens in the back of the house at other restaurants, we brought into the dining room, just to create more theater, more energy inside of the dining room,” said Paslay.

“Brick and mortar will never go away,” said Manuel. “The more experiences you can create, the more you can connect with people on an emotional level.”

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How North Texas’ Brick-And-Mortar Shops Are Attracting Customers

D Magazine
Written by: Steve Kaskovich

The fastest-growing retailer in North Texas doesn’t have any stores. Meanwhile, shopping centers are pouring money into atmosphere and amenities, knowing that it takes more than a department store and a parking lot to attract people. This new e-commerce world is bringing remarkable convenience and massive disruption. Enclosed malls are out, smartphones are in, and the retail landscape in Dallas-Fort Worth is shifting before our very eyes.

Thank (or blame) Amazon for this revolution. The Seattle-based online juggernaut has shown the world that you can buy almost anything without leaving home and seems bent on moving into virtually every category. In recent years, it has built a major presence in Dallas-Fort Worth, opening four massive fulfillment centers, hiring several thousand workers, and launching its AmazonFresh service to challenge our abundance of supermarkets.

Still, this online onslaught doesn’t mean the end of traditional stores. Rather, it has spurred a ground war, prompting retailers and developers to be more creative in luring shoppers and winning their dollars. A new way of thinking is on display in southwest Fort Worth at the Waterside development, which opened last fall along Bryant Irvin Road. Developed by Trademark Property, the open-air shopping center is anchored not only by Whole Foods and REI, but by a cozy community space between the stores called The Grove, where shoppers can sit on Adirondack chairs beneath century-old oak trees, take a selfie, get coffee, aand stroll down to the trails on the Trinity River.

“Compelling public spaces are one of the new anchors in retail development,” says Terry Montesi, CEO of Trademark.

Montesi calls Waterside a “conscious place,” which seeks to tap into the emotions of consumers by adding something special for the community. As another attraction, Waterside has cut a deal with a museum to exhibit photographs from its collection.

“We endeavor to connect with people on a deeper level,” Montesi says. “We want people’s subconscious telling them that they feel loved and cared for and served when they go to Waterside.”

While new shopping centers like Waterside are great, there aren’t nearly as many being built as in the past—and almost no malls. Dallas-Fort Worth was expected to add about 2 million square feet of retail space in 2016, which is near historic lows, according to The Weitzman Group. In the early 2000s, DFW was adding as much as 10 million square feet a year. One benefit: retail occupancy is around 92 percent, the highest level since 1984. “There’s virtually no spec building right now, which is a good thing,” said Marshall Mills, Weitzman’s president and CEO. “We’re not seeing centers going up on every corner, thank goodness.”

And that’s despite continued strong population and job growth. While a few new centers continue to be built in hot growth areas, like Legacy West in Plano near the new Toyota campus, more developers are focused on renovating older spaces and attracting unconventional tenants. Mills points to WinCo Foods, the deep-discount grocer that entered the region two years ago and now has nine locations. It has sprouted in a number of abandoned retail sites including a former Sports Authority in Arlington as well as a space at the Irving Mall.

Other malls are working hard to avoid the fate of places like Valley View Center, which is targeted for redevelopment. Department store anchors are struggling, more from the hollowing out of the middle class and expansion of discount rivals rather than the internet, according to John McNellis, a veteran California developer who spoke in Dallas recently at a conference.

In West Fort Worth, Ridgmar Mall is undergoing a reinvention. Macy’s shut its doors last year and, in early 2017, Neiman Marcus will close and move to the new Shops at Clearfork. Clearfork, a Simons Property Group project, targets high-end brands like Tiffany’s and Louis Vuitton as well as destination restaurants like Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen and Rise No. 1.

Some are already calling it the NorthPark of Fort Worth, but there’s an important distinction. It will be an open-air center, not an enclosed mall, and there will be nightlife options such as a high-end bowling center with bocce ball. In other words, stuff you can’t do on the internet. 

Steve Kaskovich is the deputy managing editor of business for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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Rice Village reworks parking plan, changes to start next month

Houston Business Journal
Written by: Olivia Pulsinelli

Rice Village District, a shopping district that’s been undergoing renovations, will launch a new parking plan in February that incorporates some suggestions from a 2015 study about the area.

Changes include switching the location of the area’s free and low-cost parking. Storefront parking will be metered, starting at $1 for the first hour, to help maintain the availability of storefront parking at all times. Rice Village District, which is managed by Trademark Property Co., is switching to storefront meters in coordination with Lamesa Properties, which also manages retail properties in Rice Village.

Meanwhile, Rice Village District’s free parking spaces will increase by 36 percent. Customers will be able to park for free for up to two hours in Rice Village District’s central parking garage and rooftop parking area. (See map below.)

New signage will direct shoppers to the free parking areas, and uniformed parking ambassadors will be available to help shoppers operate meters in the storefront spaces. A portion of the proceeds from the meters will go toward a community Spark Park at nearby Roberts Elementary and the Poe Elementary PTO.

The Parking Advisory Group, based in The Woodlands, served as a consultant to Rice Village District on the new parking plan, which is modeled after several other shopping and dining destinations.

“By optimizing the location and management of Rice Village’s free and paid parking areas, we have created convenient and cost-effective parking solutions for those looking to shop at a particular store as well as for those looking to shop, dine and stay for an extended period of time,” Jerry Marcus, the group’s president, said in a press release.

In 2015, Rice University’s Kinder Institute released a study about Rice Village’s parking problems and related traffic congestion.

According to the study, the area has had a sufficient total number of parking spaces, but the confusing nature of those spots and the difficulty of accessing them was the root of the problem. The study noted little-used private garages, an uncoordinated system of free and paid parking without clear signage to let people know which is which, and area employees without access to dedicated parking spaces as contributing factors.

Some of the study’s suggestions included adding meters to street parking and installing technology that would help drivers know where available spaces are.

Meanwhile, Fort Worth-based Trademark Property has been overseeing a multimillion-dollar renovation of Rice Village District since 2015. In addition to the new parking plan, other changes include improvements to the buildings’ exteriors, new outdoor seating, landscaping and sidewalk improvements to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.

The district also will add public art installations, such as a new mural from Houston artist Mario Enrique Figueroa Jr., better known as GONZO247.

Several new tenants have also been announced for Rice Village.

Austin-based Hopdoddy Burger Bar will take over a space at 5510 Morningside Drive that Baker Street Pub & Grill vacated last year. New York-based Shake Shack Inc. (NYSE: SHAK) also plans to open its second Houston location in Rice Village, taking over the La Madeleine cafe at the corner of Kirby Drive and Amherst Street. Hopdoddy is expected to open in February, and Shake Shack should open by the end of this year.

Austin-based boutique Beehive and Nao Ramen House also opened in Rice Village late last year. Longtime restaurant Hungry’s completed its expansion project with the opening of its new second-story bar and lounge area on New Year’s Eve.

Most recently, the Rice Village District announces its longtime Starbucks at 2520 University Blvd. would close and reopen in a bigger location at 2531 Amherst St. this fall.

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