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Close-in Katy Freeway corridor in growth mode

December 21, 2018

A vacant tract housing a former Toys R Us store near Memorial City Mall is slated to become a high-end office and retail complex, the latest redevelopment in this close-in stretch of the Katy Freeway.

The new project, which could have more than 320,000 square feet of office and retail space, would significantly alter the density on the 5-acre site — primarily a lot that had been used for parking.

Images in marketing materials and on a construction fence that now surrounds the property just south of I-10 and east of Bunker Hill show six-story glass buildings and a parking garage with restaurants and shops on the ground floors. The property owner, Moody National Cos., purchased the site in August of last year, records show.

Several sites along both sides of I-10 outside the West Loop have been redeveloped in recent years, with at least three office buildings newly built or under construction.

Stream Realty Partners and AMD Global are developing a five-story medical office building of just over 100,000 square feet south of I-10 near the Moody site. The building broke ground with tenants committed to 65 percent of the space. Memorial Plastic Surgery and Texas Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists will occupy about 45,000 square feet combined.

Houston-based i3 Interests developed an 83,000-square-foot medical office building and surgery center on the north side of I-10 near Blalock called Spring Valley Medical Plaza. It’s more than 90 percent leased.

“People don’t like driving to the Med Center to go to their doctor. It’s tough to get to, and it’s tough to park. So a lot of physicians, especially specialists that don’t necessarily have to be at a hospital, are looking from River Oaks to Katy,” said John Joubert, a senior vice president with i3 Interests.

Ersa Grae Corp. and The Stoller Group developed a 98,500-square-foot building at 9090 Katy Freeway near Campbell Road. Aside from Stoller’s headquarters, the building also houses a Houston Methodist orthopedics and sports medicine office.

Development in the area is becoming more dense as land prices rise. Sites along I-10 sell for around $110 per square foot, Joubert said.

Moody, which also owns an apartment complex at 970 Bunker Hill in addition to the old Toys R Us site, controls close to 10 acres at the site valued at $31 million, according to the Harris County Appraisal District. The apartments, formerly known as Le Renaissance, have been renamed the Village at Bunker Hill.

When Moody bought the 164-unit complex in 2016, the company said it would operate the apartments in the short term but that a mixed-use development was in the cards. The company declined to comment for this story.

As of now, the fence surrounds just the retail property.

nancy.sarnoff@chron.com

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