The Common Rendering

Artist rendering of the retail center at 1102 Pinemont Dr., which is being reimagined as 'The Common.'

The retail center at 1102 Pinemont Dr., which is home to Esther’s Signature Dish, is about to get a major overhaul.

Gulf Coast Commercial Group, a Houston-based firm specializing in retail development, management and leasing, bought the property in 2019 from Allen Family Investments. Gulf Coast recently announced plans for a project on the property’s nearly 3 acres called "The Common," which would create a namesake, central common, incorporating both green space and a renovated plaza.

The remodel is an Opportunity Zone project. According to the City of Houston, the Opportunity Zone program was created by the 2017 federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to encourage businesses to develop and invest in low-income communities in Texas. There are 99 census tracts within city boundaries so designated by the governor’s office.

According to a news release, the remodel is expected to begin in March. Gulf Coast will manage the property with company vice president Danny Miller overseeing leasing. Esther’s, known for its Cajun soul food, will remain open through renovations.

Houston’s Schooley Design is the architect for the project and is designing with sustainability in mind. The release from Gulf Coast said materials will be reused and creatively repurposed rather than demolished. The project will also incorporate solar panels to power exterior lighting in addition to water catchment tanks for landscape irrigation.

The two separate structures on the property will remain but the new façade will have a floating exterior of staggered mesh Corten panels. The release said the material’s composite of steel and copper will naturally oxidize to create a rich palette and texture over time.

Placing the panels at irregular intervals is meant to break up the length of the building while highlighting signage. The new common area between the two buildings will become “a lifestyle hub” with farmers' markets and artisan pop-ups.

“Special attention was paid to creating an architectural aesthetic and environment that would be both appreciated and enjoyed by the diverse communities that The Common will serve,” reads the release.

Schooley Design’s clients include Kata Robata, Area, 3600 Kirby, Benjy’s on Washington, Art Attack and Hungry’s.

Landscaping will be led by Alissa Priebe and David Cater of OUTPOSTS Landscape Architecture (O-LA). Their plan aims to further unify the site by pulling geometries from the existing architecture into the landscape.

Prior to founding O-LA, Priebe was a project manager and designer at Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, where she worked on The Plaza & The Cellars at Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, Harwood Park in Dallas and the soon-to-debut Hotel Magdalena and Saint Cecilia Residences in Austin.

“We’re excited to give this property new life and activate the needs of surrounding communities in this rapidly growing area,” Gulf Coast Commercial Group President Tom Lile said. “Our goal is to showcase a variety of local businesses in a distinctive and inviting, family-friendly setting.”

The center, which according to the Harris County Appraisal District was built in 1985 and remodeled in 2010, was recently home to Dominion Academy Charter School. It occupied what is referred to on Gulf Coast’s site plan as the east building and closed in 2013.

With a few tenants in the west building, including a dental clinic and a pharmacy, most of the 38,420 square feet of space in both the west and east buildings remains unused. HCAD appraised the total property at $2,300,135 this year.

Founded in 1999, Gulf Coast Commercial Group also has area projects underway at Block 14 at Garden Oaks and the 24-acre Lower Heights mixed-use district just west of downtown.

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