Complex To Give a Corner New Life


The developer, ITEX, is planning a major upgrade to a worn-out corner of south Houston with an apartment and retail project where an empty flea market now stands.

With help from more than $15 million in public funding, the ITEX Group is preparing to remake the almost
10-acre site at the southwest corner of Griggs and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard with a $41 million project called the Village at Palm Center.

The development, which was designed by multifamily architecture firm Humphreys & Partners, will have
222 rentals, including 154 apartments and 68 townhouse-style units. Some commercial space is also planned.

Most of the apartments will be affordable housing for low- and moderate-income renters, but a portion will
be priced at market rents.

$41 million project at former flea market will have apartments and townhouses, most below market rates, in a gentrifying area.

“This will preserve the ability for people living in the community to continue living in their community,”
said Clark Colvin, executive vice president of the ITEX Group, which is planning to hold a “Demolition Day” ceremony at the site Wednesday, December 3, 2014 afternoon at 2pm.

The project, partially financed with tax credits, will also benefit from $15.3 million from the Hurricane Ike Disaster Recovery program.

Almost two years ago, the city received a commitment for about $150 million — a second round of
federal hurricane relief funding — to be used in areas that experienced damage from the storm.

“We looked for areas in town where gentrification was starting to happen and property values were starting
to rise, and we tried to isolate areas where we could be part of a catalyst for change,” said Neal Rackleff, director of the Houston Housing and Community Development Department.

The Village at Palm Center is one of five multifamily projects that have or will receive a portion of the funding. Some $50 million will go toward multifamily projects.

“We’re expecting it to be a real game changer in that real estate market out there,” said John L. Guess III, president of the Guess Group commercial real estate firm that brokered the sale of the flea market property. The site, inside the 610 Loop and south of the University of Houston, is near where Metro’s Southeast light-rail line will be built.

The line will run from downtown to the Palm Center Transit Center near Griggs and MLK. The Village at Palm Center project will replace the large King’s flea market, which recently closed. ITEX has been preparing the building for demolition, which is expected to occur this month.

“It’s going to be a couple of big blighted buildings changed out for a group of exceptionally designed apartments and town-homes,” Guess said.

A new street will run through the middle of the property. Gated townhomes will be built on one side of the street, and a three- or four-story apartment complex will be built on the other.

The commercial space will be on a portion of the ground floor of the apartment complex. The developer
put the land under contract a couple years ago and recently closed on the 9.6-acre tract.

Port Arthur-based ITEX builds and manages affordable apartment complexes and rental housing.
The Palm Center complex will be its first Houston development.

Colvin said the community has been supportive: “Our project just kind of really fit in with what they already envisioned.”

The Village at Palm Center will be a mixed-use development at Griggs and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, inside the 610 Loop.

This article originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle. Written by Nancy Sarnoff on December 2, 2014

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