First wave of restaurants set to open this spring
More than 40,000 square feet of new retail space is slated to open this spring inside the mixed-use development LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch—only a fraction of developer Vista Equities Group’s plans for expanding the center.
The first phase of LaCenterra opened in 2007, several years after Vista Equities Group purchased the property in 2003, thinking the intersection of the Grand Parkway and Cinco Ranch Boulevard would serve as the main intersection in the community, said Woody Mann Jr., president of Vista Equities Group.
“The more we studied the market and the unbelievably strong demographics and residential growth, we saw a real void in the market for a high-end, mixed-used development that would combine retail, office and residential use and that would serve as a town center for the entire Katy and west Houston area,” Mann said.
LaCenterra has an existing 170,000 square feet of retail space and 90,000 square feet of office space, but Phase 2 will add an additional 200,000 square feet of office and retail space in two different stages.
“Phase 2 will encompass retail, office and residential components that will expand and complement Phase 1,” Mann said.
Additionally, Phase 2C calls for the development of a 300-unit residential midrise.
Work began in November 2012 on the first part of Phase 2, which includes 40,000 square feet of retail space, 60 percent of which is already leased.
Scheduled to open in March, the area will have a variety of new tenants, such as Bonefish Grill, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, Emmanuel Salon, Zoës Kitchen and World of Beer.
Construction is expected to begin on Phase 2B in late 2013, and the mix of residential and office space will break ground in early 2014.
Several new retail outlets—Brothers, The Flower Girls and LAVO Collections—opened inside LaCenterra in late 2012. Already-existing tenants said they hope the center’s expansion will bring in new business.
“Phase 1 has done well, although when we opened in early 2007 no one could have foreseen the economic downturn that started in 2008 and continued through 2010,” Mann said. “As a result, our lease-up took longer than expected, but we are now fully leased. The majority of tenants are doing very well.”
Lisa Brown opened Beau Kisses—an Austin-based boutique that sells clothing, jewelry, boots and gifts—inside LaCenterra in 2009, yards away from where construction on Phase 2 began.
“I think [the expansion] will open that end of the center up with the addition of the new retail, restaurants and eventually residential units,” she said. “It will make [LaCenterra] more of a lifestyle center than an outdoor shopping center, which is always a good addition for retail.”
Across from Brown’s boutique, Martin and Christine Nguyen opened a second location of The Sweet Boutique Bakery in February, citing the expansion of LaCenterra as one of the major factors in deciding where to open a new store. The couple’s interest in LaCenterra peaked when a customer told them about a new Whole Foods opening in the area, and they began to research the shopping center.
“We found out Phase 2 was being built and several big restaurants were coming in, and things were picking up in the center,” Martin Nguyen said. “All the pieces were there at the right time for us to move in. We feel that where we’re located we’ll be in the center of the action. When people park they’ll be walking by the bakery to go shopping or visit the amphitheater for events.”
Situated at the gateway of master-planned community Cinco Ranch, LaCenterra has been a positive addition for residents and potential homebuyers, said Heather Gustafson, marketing director for Cinco Ranch.
“It’s more neighborhood conveniences and places to go out and entertain the family or go out for a date evening,” she said. “We’re very happy LaCenterra is in our community.”
The first part of Phase 2 also involves the addition of a community park in the center, which will host events such as concerts, performances, charity events, garage sales and holiday events.
“Central Green has been designed as an entertainment venue—similar to Discovery Green in downtown Houston—which will benefit the entire community,” Mann said.
Willow Fork Drainage District provided funding for Central Green as part of its parks and recreation program and will be responsible for scheduling all events that take place there. Designed by landscape architecture firm TBG Partners, the community park will feature large trees, seating areas, a restroom facility, an area for outdoor dining and small stage for performances.
LaCenterra provided the land for the park area, which the drainage district is leasing, said Bill Odle, managing principal with TBG Partners.
“It enhances the community because LaCenterra has been so successful in Phase 1 that it’s already a place where people are going,” he said.