Boutique grocer, Austin-based ice cream shop among new tenants for East River mixed-use development

Houston-based Midway has landed three new tenants for its long-awaited East River development, which broke ground in August.

Broham Fine Soul Food & Groceries, Lick Honest Ice Creams and Urbn Dental have signed on to lease space in the first phase of the 150-acre mixed-use development in the historic Fifth Ward, adjacent to the East End District. One of the concepts is new, and another is new to Houston.

“On the heels of the recent groundbreaking, we are thrilled to announce these additional businesses that East River Phase I will introduce to the area,” said Lacee Jacobs, vice president of strategic leasing and advisory. “From innovative and globally competitive companies to cutting-edge local dining and service concepts, Midway is committed to curating a dynamic mix that enhances the surrounding community.”

Broham Fine Soul Food & Groceries will occupy a 4,000-square-foot space in The Depot (the ground level of a garage structure). The food purveyor is a new concept created by Jonny Rhodes, a local James Beard Award-nominated chef, who until earlier this year ran nationally acclaimed Neo-soul food restaurant Indigo. His new boutique bodega is focused on providing self-sustainable goods, which include locally sourced seafood,meats, produce and freshly baked bread as well as cheese and specialty condiments.

Rhodes’ farm, Food Fight Farms in Cleveland, will be the store’s primary supplier, providing handmade, pre-packaged items that shoppers can purchase.

In what he hopes will create a “green circle,” Rhodes plans to offer coupons to customers in exchange for produce purchased in the store that the customer later discovered wasn’t needed. The chef also plans to offer a membership program for avid home chefs to provide discounts, coupons, farm tours and access to specialty products from around the world.

Meanwhile, Austin-based Lick Honest Ice Creams will open in a 1,124-square-foot space in East River 1 (Building C). Co-founders Anthony Sobotik and Chad Palmatier craft artisanal ice creams using peak-season ingredients sourced from local farmers and food creators that are free of soy, palm oil and preservatives. Everything from the sauces and syrups to the cookies, cakes and marshmallows are made by hand in Lick’s kitchen.

Finally, Urbn Dental will open in a 2,612-square-foot space in The Depot. The cosmetic dental practice markets itself as being BPA free, BisGMA free and eco-friendly. Urbn Dental’s dentists use low-radiation technology, digital imaging and digital scanning. Urbn Dental currently has two dental offices in Houston — one in between Highland Village and River Oaks District and one in Midtown — and plans to open Montrose and Heights locations in 2022.

The three newly announced tenants will join Houston-based commercial architecture firm Method Architecture, which will occupy 9,000 square feet in East River 1 (Building C), and Teal, which provides a cloud-based system for delivering hot water to buildings without water heaters. Teal has leased 12,000 square feet in Building C for its new corporate headquarters.

Additionally, the owners of The Astorian event venue near Sawyer Yards will open a new 20,000-square-foot private event space and rooftop bar in Trail Head 1 (Building F). The yet-to-be-named event space will include a ballroom, bride and groom suites, and an outdoor wraparound deck with panoramic views of downtown Houston and Buffalo Bayou. The Buffalo Bayou location and natural surroundings will influence the design of the venue, which also will feature smart technology, configurable spaces and a partially covered patio to accommodate a variety of events. The rooftop bar will be open to the public as well as available for private parties.

East River’s first phase, which will span about 26 acres at the intersection of Jensen Drive and Clinton Drive, is slated to be complete in 2023. It will include approximately 250,000 square feet of office space, 110,000 square feet of retail space and more than 13,000 square feet of plaza greenspace, as well as The Laura, a five-story, 360-unit multifamily project.

East River 9, a nine-hole, par-three golf course open to the public, and Riverhouse Houston, a family-friendly restaurant and patio bar, are expected to open in 2022.

Given its location along Buffalo Bayou, East River will also be connected to nearly 500 miles of bike lanes.

By Jeff Jeffrey - Houston Business Journal