The Laura apartment building in MIdway's East River starts pre-leasing, office leasing picks up

Pre-leasing has begun for The Laura, the multifamily component in the first phase of Houston-based Midway’s 150-acre East River mixed-use development.

The company will start delivering the 359 apartment units in December.

The Laura, which broke ground in 2021, is located at the entry point of East River and is a westward extension of the historic Fifth Ward and East End, or Second Ward, Midway said.

East River’s first phase, which will span about 26 acres at the intersection of Jensen and Clinton, will include approximately 300,000 square feet of office space, 110,000 square feet of retail space and more than 13,000 square feet of plaza green space. The company has already completed construction of three retail/office buildings as part of East River’s first phase.

“We are excited to kick off pre-leasing for The Laura, which is sure to be one of our most impressive residential communities to date,” Larry Sloan, executive vice president of investment and development for Midway, said in a news release. “With its authentic architecture, balance of amenities, access to East River’s retail, dining and entertainment offerings, and connection to the Buffalo Bayou trail system, The Laura will bridge rich culture and commerce within East River’s 150-acre mixed-use destination.”

Ranging from 431 square feet to 1,432 square feet, the building offers studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom floor plans. Midway did not provide details about the monthly rents for each.

The Laura also will offer workforce housing designed for those whose salary is at or below 80% of the area median income.

The development takes its name from the steamboat the Allen brothers took to demonstrate Buffalo River’s navigability in 1837, a daring move that later helped to establish the Port of Houston.

When it opens in a few months, The Laura will have an industrial feel, taking inspiration from the steamboat’s steel cylinders, valves, paddlewheels and spokes as well as from other commercial businesses like railroads, warehouses and the port’s shipping containers.

The building’s interiors were designed by Houston-based Mayfield and Ragni Studio (MaRS).

The Laura’s amenity lounge, leasing and lobby areas will be outfitted with a blend of reclaimed and new materials, which Midway said will pay homage to the area’s history as well as where it stands today.

The design architect, Houston-based Munoz + Albin Architecture and Planning, and the architect of record, Houston-based EDI International, came up with an unconventional layout that aims to maximize views from each of the building’s units.

The two-story lobby will continue the warehouse aesthetic, featuring five shipping containers arranged to create workspaces and a coffee bar.

Amenities will be located within the central portion of the building’s ground floor and will include a fitness center, dog park, pool, grilling stations, outdoor yoga space, lawn for games and passive recreation, and cabanas. The exterior of the building will also house ground-floor retail.

Many of the other companies working to erect The Laura hail from Texas, Midway said, including OJB Landscape Architecture; OHT Partners, multifamily general contractor; HE, multifamily mechanical, electric and plumbing; BGE Inc., civil engineer; and Schultz Burman Engineering PLLC, multifamily structural engineer.

East River’s office leasing picks up

As The Laura moves toward completion, East River is also adding new office tenants to its roster.

EaDo Eye Studio has leased a 2,005-square-foot space in the East River office building known as The Depot. The optometry studio will be located between Broham Fine Soul Food & Groceries and Urbn Dental.

EaDo Eye Studio’s board-certified optometrists offer a range of primary optometry services, including pediatric eye exams, comprehensive eye exams, diabetic eye exams, LASIK consultations, cataract consultations, glaucoma evaluations, eye emergencies and general optometric exams. They also specialize in treatment of dry eyes, myopia control and frame styling.

This will be the company’s second location, adding to the existing location in Market at Houston Heights at 1533 N. Shepherd Drive, where it operates as Heights Eye Studio.

East River has already seen several office tenants move into their new spaces.

Method Architecture opened its new headquarters in East River in July.

Impact Networking and Houston-based OJB Landscape Architecture have also moved in, and Teal, which provides a cloud-based system for delivering hot water to buildings without water heaters, is scheduled to move in this fall.

Also coming to East River is Port Houston’s new headquarters. Port Houston purchased two tracts of land within East River’s first phase for a built-to-suit office building and adjacent parking garage, which will be connected via a skybridge, Midway announced in July.

Located along Buffalo Bayou, both buildings will be occupied solely by Port Houston. Midway will oversee all aspects of the project’s predevelopment, development and construction. The new headquarters is expected to break ground in spring 2024, with an anticipated completion date of summer 2025.

In March, Midway announced that Houston-based Suderman & Young Towing Co. leased 6,000 square feet of office space in East River’s Trail Head 1, which is also referred to as Building F. The building is situated next to a bayou-side green space. Suderman & Young’s new offices in East River will replace the company’s existing headquarters at 2777 Allen Parkway.

Last year, Houston Maritime Center leased 6,281 square feet in East River for a museum focused on the history of the city’s nautical past. The museum’s new location is now expected in early 2024, according to the Maritime Center’s website.

Retail tenants confirmed for Phase I of East River include Lick Honest Ice Creams, El Condor Coffee Roaster, Tomi Jewelry and a new special events venue and landmark rooftop bar from the owners of The Astorian.

Midway said major construction is now complete on the 26-acre first phase of East River, though many tenants are still building out their spaces. The majority are expected to move in this fall, Midway said.


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