Houston — Imperial Market Development LLC announced its purchase of the 26-acre Imperial Sugar Refinery for the development of an upscale, 855,000-square–foot, mixed-use retail, office, hotel and residential project located in Sugar Land, Texas, on U.S. 90 between Highway 6 and U.S. 59. The $200 million project is being developed by a partnership led by principals Geoffrey Jones and James Murnane. Construction will start in September 2016 with a projected grand opening in late 2017.
Imperial Market is situated on the banks of Oyster Creek. The project design will allow visitors to interact with the natural beauty of the waterfront. Lush landscaping, pedestrian walkways and bike trails will follow the contours of Oyster Creek in order to provide a park-like environment that will energize the entire project.
The retail, dining and entertainment components of the project will total 290,000 square feet of space, including a 55,000-square-foot, nine-screen Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Alamo Drafthouse is a best-in-class movie and dining concept with multiple locations throughout Texas.
According to Neil Billingsley-Michaelsen, CEO of Triple Tap Ventures, “Imperial Market provides our forthcoming Alamo Drafthouse Cinema with precisely the right environment and blend of tenants to ensure that this will be one of our most successful theaters.”
Other notable tenants include Schilleci’s New Orleans Kitchen, a top-rated, French Quarter-style restaurant serving Creole and Cajun influenced fare (an Open Table Award Winner 2011-2015) that will be opening its second location to complement its current operation at Market Street in The Woodlands. The project will also feature The Guild Bar, a high-end lounge providing a one-of-a-kind gathering place for Imperial Market patrons. Popular Italian restaurant Mia Bella will also be joining Imperial Market with its fourth location in the Houston metropolitan area.
The Company Town (an upscale coffee shop and casual eatery) and Frost Gelato have signed leases to join the roster of tenants as well. Vino & Vinyl, a popular local wine bar, will be part of the project and will serve fine wines accompanied by light fare in an environment that features music played on record players from new and classic vinyl albums. Many fashion and soft goods tenants are expected to soon commit to Imperial Market and will be announced shortly.
Retail leasing for the project is headed up by Nick Hernandez, Crystal Allen and Chace Henke of Transwestern. According to Hernandez, “We are honored to be selected to work on such a dynamic project. Having the chance to be a part of preserving the history of the Imperial Sugar refinery and provide a world-class retail, restaurant and entertainment destination is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that our team could not be more excited about. Initial feedback from retailers is outstanding, and we are looking forward to announcing many more best-in-class tenants in the coming months.”
Imperial Market will also include approximately 90,000 square feet of Class A office space that will be located above the project’s retail shops and restaurants. The office space will cater to the needs of local professionals and larger corporate users that value proximity to the various goods and services that will be offered at Imperial Market.
Office leasing will be handled by Eric Anderson and Greg Tilton of Transwestern. “The quality of the workplace and the ability to walk to a wide array of restaurants and stores is extremely appealing to office users, and it provides companies with a huge competitive edge with respect to hiring and retaining the most skilled work force,” stated Anderson.
Imperial Market will be home to a 185-room, luxury boutique hotel located in the historic Char House building on-site. An agreement has been signed with a well-respected operator, with the identity of the hotel flag to be released shortly. The hotel, as is the case with the entire project, will accentuate the magnificent history and traditions of the Imperial Sugar refinery and will contain approximately 10,000 square feet of conference and meeting space.
The exterior of the Char House will be carefully restored to its original historic grandeur. The design of new buildings to be developed on-site will pick up the inferences of the historic buildings to be preserved and express them in the same architectural language.
The site will also contain a 274-unit, luxury multifamily complex developed by Sueba USA, one of the most well-respected multifamily developers in Texas. According to John Chiang, executive vice president of Sueba USA, “We recognized the inherent value of being part of a development like Imperial Market. The shopping and services located on-site round out an amenities package for our residents that will be unrivaled in the Houston metro area.”
Imperial Market is also home to the recently opened Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center, which is affiliated with the renowned Children’s Museum of Houston. The director of the museum, Tammie Kahn, has stated that, “Fort Bend County has one of the fastest-growing populations of young families with children in the nation. The museum was made possible by the vision and sponsorship of business and community leaders. We are all very proud that the museum is located in one of Texas’ most iconic and historic locations.” The Discovery Center is expected to be visited by over 100,000 patrons per year.
The project site will also continue to feature the popular Farmer’s Market at Imperial. The Farmer’s Market, which draws 150,000 visitors to the site annually, has become a much-beloved Sugar Land tradition. Imperial Market will also be the permanent home of the Sugar Land Heritage Museum & Visitors Center.
The City of Sugar Land and the Imperial Redevelopment District have both been ardent supporters of the Imperial redevelopment. Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman states, “We are extremely excited about the high quality of the Imperial Market project since it will bring life to the community’s long-held vision for the redevelopment of one of City’s most important historic sites – the Imperial Sugar refinery.”
Former Sugar Land Mayor James Thompson added, “The redevelopment of the Imperial Sugar refinery was one of my top priorities. I am very proud to see that our years of hard work to preserve the site have paved the way for the development of Imperial Market.”
Given the historic nature of the project and the developer’s commitment to preserving the rich traditions and authenticity of the site, Imperial Market has also benefitted from its relationships with those federal and state historic agencies that have jurisdiction over the project.
The project has been designed by the internationally known architectural firm HOK. Harvey Builders has been selected to serve as the general contractor for Imperial Market. LJA has been engaged to handle project engineering. The Hunton Group will provide HVAC and all building systems to the project. Bancorp South provided financing for the land purchase.
The Imperial Market site is located within the 720-acre, master-planned community of Imperial, a project being developed by The Johnson Development Corp. Imperial is home to Constellation Field where the Sugar Land Skeeters play in front of 500,000 fans each season.