HOUSTON – (By Ralph Bivins, Realty News Report) – No other golf course can match it. Step up to the Number One tee box at Houston’s newest golf course and you will see it.
The view of the downtown Houston skyline, almost 50 million square feet of it (yes, with 12 million square feet of vacant offices) is on display.
Being only a mile from downtown, the East River 9 provides the downtown skyline closeup view in addition to plenty of appealing Buffalo Bayou frontage. There, the bayou is wide, curvy and flowing like a river.
Expected to open in September, the nine-hole golf course, with a pro shop, the Riverhouse Houston restaurant and patio bar, six pickleball courts and 300-yard driving range will create a recreational haven in East River, a central city development by the Houston-based Midway company.
“Our objective is to create an inviting and recreational environment for the local community as well as all Houstonians,”says Clayton Freels, founding partner of the restaurant and golf venture. “East River 9 will grow the game by filling a void in the market between the driving range and the full 18-hole experience. It also brings a fun, community-oriented activation that will welcome neighboring residents to a site that has been closed to the public for over 75 years.”
The 150-acre East River development earlier served as the campus of the Brown & Root engineering and industrial services firm. And before that it housed a cottonseed oil mill owned by William Marsh Rice, whose legacy includes Rice University.
The 26-acre first phase of East River is now under construction near the intersection of Jensen Drive and Clinton. It will include 300,000 SF of office, 100,000 SF of retail, and The Laura, a five-story, 360-unit multifamily development.
Midway’s long-term vision for East River includes estimates of 9 million SF of office space, over 400 single-family homes, hotels and more multifamily.
Perhaps a corporate campus might be part of East River.
Located in the Historic Fifth Ward, adjacent to the East End (the Second Ward), it’s the largest redevelopment site in Houston’s urban core, Midway says. East River is poised to be the most significant concentration of new development on the eastern edge of downtown.
The site has one mile of frontage along Buffalo Bayou, an attribute that gave the East River project its name. Early archival maps call the waterway the “Buffalo River.”
In Houston, the term “bayou” carries images of large, concrete-lined ditches that have been dredged and engineered for drainage purposes. But on the east side of downtown, the flow is different for Buffalo Bayou.
“Here, it’s much more like a river,” Midway vice president Anna Deans said last week at an East River site tour. Without a concrete border, this stretch of the bayou has grassy banks with trees, and water moves at a brisker pace.
The bayou will make things more interesting for golfers, too.
“We have six holes that play along the bayou,” says Clayton Freels.
The par-three course, which will be open to the public, has holes that range from 80 – 150 yards.
East River 9, designed by Smelek Design, will be lighted for evening play.
The Riverhouse Houston, developed in partnership with DKC Group restaurants, is a creative redevelopment of an old Brown & Root maintenance building. With a design by architect Phil Schawe, the center of the building has been opened up into a wide, entry breezeway that leads to the patio bar and the first tee.
The restaurant’s long bar with a major horizontal window putting the spotlight on the downtown skyline will encourage customers to linger.