Mention Rice Village to any lifelong Houstonian and it won't be long before they reminisce about when the shopping center was an eclectic collection of shops and not a corporate-looking outdoor mall. But a new redesign underway should help bring back that individual feel, while adding the kind of amenities that 21st century shoppers crave.
Following the creation of a casual gathering spot known as Morningside Plaza earlier this year in the southeast corner of the Village, the latest section of the shopping center to get a makeover is the south side of Amherst Street, which runs between Kirby and Kelvin.
This block is currently composed of an all-pink-brick façade, and the transformation that is already underway will break up the visual monolith, creating individual storefronts each with their own color, texture and roof line, offering a more stylish and inviting shopping experience. The tops of several areas of the façade will also be removed to add greenery and offer a view of the rooftop parking—which is free for two hours and which previous studies of Rice Village's parking patterns have shown is frequently underused.
“The transformation of Amherst will take a once sleepy back street and transform it into a vibrant setting for contemporary retailers and restaurants,” said Tommy Miller, managing director of Trademark Property Co., in a statement. “This will be our most significant renovation project in Rice Village by far.”
The transformation of the streetscape will also include widening sidewalks, adding new crosswalks and bringing in planter boxes to separate pedestrians from the parking spaces. Street artist Daniel Anguilu will also be contributing a mural on Amherst, and Houston outdoor artist Tierney Malone will be painting murals on both sides of the Morningside parking garage, joining recently unveiled public art created by Houston artist Gonzo247 and California metal sculptor Nathan Mabry.
The ultimate goal, according to Miller, is to make the intersection of Amherst and Kelvin into the heart of the Village, with its proximity to two large parking garages and easy access to many of the shopping zones and the creation of a second seating area/gathering spot on the corner. New retail tenants will be returning to Amherst as early as August, to be joined by Shake Shack on the corner of Amherst and Kirby in November.