Redemption Square—Generation Park’s 52-acre city center—is beginning to take shape as developers focus on creating a walkable area filled with restaurants, retail, apartments, hotels and entertainment venues.

The development’s first restaurant—Bibo’s Bistro—opened earlier this year, while two more restaurants owned by Houston restaurateur Michael Collins are slated to open in spring 2019, said Ian Adler, director of marketing for McCord Development—which owns and is developing Generation Park. Additionally, the development’s first apartment complex, hotel and retail shops are set to open next year.

After Redemption Square is built out—the time frame of which is unknown—McCord will focus on developing other parts of Generation Park, which is composed of 4,000 acres near Beltway 8 and West Lake Houston Parkway in Northeast Houston. Adler said this includes adding more industrial, commercial and office buildings to the area, which could see a daytime population between 150,000 and 250,000 people in 30 or 40 years.

“We’re essentially building a city from scratch,” Adler said. “There will be a big boost in population which could lead to new homes, new schools [and] property taxes, which increases everything across the board.”

Redemption Square development

Currently, there is one fully built office building in Redemption Square, which houses the headquarters of McCord Development, Apache Industrial Services and Global Tubing. But work on 255 Assay Street Luxury Apartments—which will consist of 251 units—and a 144-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel started earlier this year, and both are set to open in 2019, Adler said.

Although the construction time frame is undetermined, when Redemption Square is fully developed, it could consist of three hotels, two to five apartment buildings, 750,000 to 1.5 million square feet of office space and about 250,000 square feet of retail space, Adler said.

“Once Redemption Square is built out, it will have its own self-sustaining ecosystem,” Adler said. “If you have 1,000 apartment units, there’s probably 1,500 to 2,000 people living here at least on a daily basis, and then all of the workers here during the day.”

Residents who live or work in Redemption Square will have numerous restaurant options to choose from, Adler said. Vietnamese eatery Bibo’s Bistro opened on the ground floor of the first office building in May, and in July, McCord announced Collins would open his first concepts—Wholesome Kitchen and Wholesome Pies—outside of downtown Houston in Redemption Square.

According to a McCord press release, Wholesome Kitchen will feature an all-organic menu with options including fish, steak and salads. Meanwhile, Wholesome Pies will serve made-to-order thin crust pizzas.

“We picked [Generation Park] because it’s the next upcoming city center, and we feel like it’s filling a need for the area,” Collins said. “We’ve been in the restaurant business a long time, and as we have gotten older, we have seen our clientele move out to the suburbs and tell us they wanted more options.”
Besides restaurants, Redemption Square will feature retail shops, entertainment venues and services, such as hair salons and doctor offices, Adler said.

Pedestrian-centric city center

Mark Mitchell, president of the Lake Houston Economic Development Partnership, said the mix of residential, office and retail spaces in Redemption Square could be a significant draw for people looking to move to the Lake Houston area, especially millennials.

“You look at areas such as The Woodlands or the Heights where they created environments that have strived,” Mitchell said. “Generation Park is a prime spot for a live, work, play development.”
McCord Development is designing Redemption Square around Assay Street, which cuts through the middle of the development. Adler said the buildings that line the street will have restaurants or retail on the ground floor.

“Part of this is we’re trying to create an environment that [encourages] companies [to] want to come work here, because their employees will love being surrounded by everything they’ll need on a daily basis,” Adler said.

In addition, residents and visitors will have the option to park their cars in a garage or on the street, and walk or bike around the development, he said.

Alan Clark, Houston-Galveston Area Council’s director of transportation planning, said mixed-use city centers that encourage walking or biking to get around—like Redemption Square—are becoming more popular in the Greater Houston area, which cuts down on the number of people driving on roads.

“We see areas of Houston that are very walkable and livable,” Clark said. “[These are places] where people have choices other than just driving.”

Growth beyond Redemption Square

Although McCord is focused on designing and building out Redemption Square, the developer is making progress on other parts of Generation Park as well.

Earlier this year, Lone Star College System opened its Process Technology Center—where students study technology, logistics and occupational health—on Lockwood Road in Generation Park. GHX Industrial—a company that specializes in industrial gaskets and hoses—opened its headquarters at the development’s 25-acre Lockwood Business Park earlier this year, Adler said.

In addition, the Fortune 500 oil and gas company Technip FMC is constructing its 173-acre campus within Generation Park, while the chemical transportation and storage company Stolt-Nielsen Limited is also working on its future campus, Adler said. Next year San Jacinto College plans to begin construction on a new campus in the development as well.

Jenna Armstrong, Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce president, said the development taking place in Generation Park could lead to more businesses opening in the Lake Houston area.

“A lot of things we hear from people [are], ‘We want this restaurant ... or these upscale shopping amenities,’ but that doesn’t come unless there are jobs here to support that,” Armstrong said. “So, if [residents] want all of that kind of stuff, you need to support the growth that’s taking place in Generation Park.”