Main Street nightlife attracts more downtown Houston investors

HOUSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL

Houston’s downtown has been trying to reinvigorate its nightlife and entertainment scene for years, and until recently, it has typically been a place geared more toward work than play.

But now, some new investors have taken note of recent activity swirling around Main Street and the types of restaurants, bars and other nightlife that has sprung up in the area.

Through an acquisition on July 26 of a pair of historic structures on Main Street, Dan Braun, principal with Braun Enterprises, a Houston-based company that focuses on acquiring mom-and-pop properties in growing markets, told me he’s optimistic on the downtown scene and has plans to move further into the submarket.

“As downtown gets hotter and hotter, we are seeing a lot of good activity going on Main Street and nearby,” he said. “We are still looking and trying to find more acquisitions, but as it gets hotter, they are getting harder to find.”

This week, the company purchased the 105-year-old, 10-story Great Jones Building at 708 Main St., totaling 78,843 square feet.

The structure was renovated in 2002 with additional upgrades as recently as last year. At one time, the building was home to Texas Co., or Texaco, and was also formerly known as the Bankers Mortgage Building.

The other structure, the mixed-use McCrory Building, contains 29,036 square feet of office and ground-floor retail space on the corner of Prairie and Main streets.

Built in 1912, the three-story building at 1004 Prairie was renovated in 2000. When it was constructed, it was known as the Isis Theater, a silent movie theater from 1913 to 1929.

“The reason the two properties fit into our portfolio is because of their small-tenant nature,” he said.

“The floor plates are smaller, the spaces are already divided. It’s a real opportunity for professionals to be close to the courthouse or downtown who can’t be accommodated by an institutional building.”

Mike Hassler and Todd Casper with CBRE Group Inc. (NYSE: CBG) in Houston arranged the transaction on behalf of the Dallas-based seller, Spire Realty Group Inc. The cost was not disclosed.

Braun is also highly active in the Heights area and recently acquired an unused portion of the Baptist Temple Church on 19th Street.

The company plans to demolish the downtrodden church building and transform the area into a retail-restaurant hub.

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