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The Shops At Houston Center Get Green

Posted on February 11, 2006 in

By: Maurice Bobb from 002 Houston Magazine

shopsAfter years of swimming in the sea of also-ran retail centers in Houston, The Shops At Houston Center has decided to put on a new face.

The Shops, downtown Houston’s largest retail center, is in the process of a whole new transformation into a lush and inviting park-style mall. The Shops team, led by real estate strategy from New Regional Planning CEO Blake Tartt III, has focused on a number of key areas in the enhancement of the retail center, including a concept he likes to refer to as “bringing the outside in.”

“With the $40 million park being built on 12 acres across the street, we wanted to focus on the elements that were great in a park and bring them inside,” says Tartt, who most recently has been recognized for his work on Houston’s memorial City mall, Northline Mall, Greenway Plaza and Newland Communities. “The team chose to bring the outside in, recognizing the need for a more park-line settings in Houston.”

“The modernization of The Shops At Houston Center marks the beginning of a new era for retail in downtown Houston,” says Tartt. “With the infrastructure now in place, the ideas that people have had for downtown can finally come together. And this is a major part of that undertaking. With this ‘urban indoor park,’ we’re doing things that haven’t been done in downtown before.”

“With the infusion of all the new amenities, there has been never been a more exciting time to be at The Shops At Houston Center,” adds Bob Hustwit, manager of retail leasing and operations for Crescent Property Services.

In addition to the park atmosphere, Houston center patrons will also enjoy other enhancements including: expanded food court and seating areas with stand-up counters for quick dining, Wi-Fi connectivity for fully functional flex time, mood-evoking music throughout The Center, floor treatments and foot-friendly carpeting that will signal different destinations, soft-seating grottos and nook areas welcoming impromptu business meetings and enhanced lighting for added warmth.

Studio Red Architects, the firm selected to conceptualize and implement design efforts, artfully created the urbanized park-like setting with interior landscaping, advanced lighting, functional flooring, as well as furnishings and finishes that evoke an alfresco flair.

“We’ve created a totally different environment at The Center,” says Tartt. “We’re going to surprise the public by making a place that nobody expects. We’re going to bring the public in and change their minds about the space. This is a fresh new look to a place they go every day. When we were looking at this project, our goal was to make people linger longer than they expected.”

“We’ve also totally revamped the retail strategy as well,” says Tartt. “We have a plan for our current merchants to get better at what they do by upgrading their stores and we’re bringing in other retailers to make the experience better. Our vision is to have retail that works much like when you’re at an airport or Grand Central Station. We’re re-tenanting and re-branding The Center. The first phase is complete. The second phase will take another 24 months.”

Tartt plans on keeping Houstonians in the loop on all of The Center’s happenings with Centerpiece,  a quarterly newsletter created for Houston Center tenants and customers.