Transwestern’s long stalled Houston project moves forward

Dan Friedkin of the Friedkin Group with 3120 Buffalo Speedway (Loopnet, Getty, The Friedkin Group)

The redevelopment plan for a main part of the Bayou City property has apparently been resurrected and is being finalized, The real deal has learned.

Over the past four years, speculation has swirled among Houston real estate watchers as to why a mixed-use development announced in 2019 for the site of Exxon Mobil’s former upstream research campus failed to started.

The 17-acre lot at 3120 Buffalo Speedway, near Houston’s Greenway Plaza and the venerable River Oaks neighborhood, was first dubbed River Oaks Green and marketed as “The RO.” according to a 2019 Houston Chronicle report.

Originally a joint venture between Spear Street Capital, a real estate investment firm with offices in San Francisco and New York, and Houston-based Transwestern, the project aimed to turn “West Alabama Street and Buffalo Speedway into an estate aesthetic pedestrian area to serve and enhance commercial and residential uses.

Referencing a now-dead link on Transwestern’s website, the Houston Chronicle reported in 2019 that the development would have 310,000 square feet of office space, 644 residential units, 65,000 square feet of restaurants and retail, and a hotel. 200 rooms with 175 living units. .

Spear Street purchased the site from Exxon Mobil through JLL, which marketed the site as “one of the largest and most desirable filler lots remaining in all of Houston,” according to a 2017 report. Houston Chronicle report.

As recently as 2021, Spear Street was listed as the owner of 3120 Buffalo Speedway, according to Harris County Rating District records, but that business is apparently now out of the equation, as its website now lists “The RO” as a development site which he sold himself.

Records show ownership transferred to TDC RO Owner LLC with the same location as Tranwestern’s Houston address at 1900 West Loop South Suite 1300.

The parcel located at 3120 Buffalo Speedway has an estimated market value of $52.77 million and its legal description is noted as “River Oaks Green”.

Reportedly, the Friedkin Group, a Houston-based conglomerate led by billionaire Dan Friedkin, along with other Houston-based investors, is now Tranwestern’s partner in the venture.

The Friedkin Group has interests in the automotive, hospitality, real estate, film, entertainment and sports industries.

The company’s business is primarily supported by its ownership of Gulf States Toyota, a major distributor of Toyota vehicles that supplies 150 dealerships in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.

Although plans are not final, Friedkin will build a collection of resort inns on the site including a hotel and residences, with Compass handling sales.

Most Auberge resorts are located in prime vacation destinations like Napa Valley, Aspen, Telluride, Park City, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Santorini, Greece and several locations in Mexico.

While Houston isn’t quite the kind of vacation destination favored by Auberge, the brand does have a location in Texas that’s somewhat comparable — its Commodore Perry Estate resort in Austin.

Under the “coming soon” heading of the Auberge, however, there is no mention of Houston. The company lists San Francisco, Florence, Italy, Los Olivos, California and Kiawah River, South Carolina as locations for future resorts.

Neither the Friedkin Group nor Spear Street Capital returned TRD’s request for comment on 3120 Buffalo Speedway.

Transwestern is currently marketing “The RO” on a parcel at 3120 Buffalo Speedway as a 289,874 square foot 13-story Class B office building with a cafe offering coffee shops and juice bars, a fitness center with changing rooms, a tenants’ lounge and green space.

A spokesperson for Transwestern told TRD the company was unable to comment on rumors or market speculation regarding the Friedkin Group’s intention to build an inn at 3120 Buffalo Speedway.

Regarding Compass who would have managed the sales of the project, the brokerage house refused to answer TRD specific query and posted the following statement from Justin D’Adamo, Head of New Development at Compass:

“Compass Development and Marketing Group works closely with developers in most major markets, including Houston. As Houston’s leading real estate broker by sales volume, our team is actively involved in several ongoing development projects with partners, including Transwestern.

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