Historic downtown building gets new life as mixed-use destination

A familiar Houston building is being resurrected in the heart of downtown’s warehouse district. Real estate development company Scarlet Capital announced the redevelopment of the structure at 1701 Commerce St., with plans to transform the unique space into a 20,000-square-foot mixed-use destination.

J.W. Northrop Jr., a renowned architect who oversaw the construction of Rice University, designed the building for the J.L. Jones Warehouse company in 1927, per Rice records. A disciple of American Georgian design, Northrop crafted a red-brick facade and capped the building with an striking penthouse, making it a standout amidst the neighboring properties.

Evocative of early 20th-century industrial design, 1701 Commerce St. features exposed brick, 12-foot ceilings, and sweeping downtown views from the rooftop. The building was occupied by the Wilson Stationery & Printing Company for decades; most recently, Lola Savannah utilized it as a coffee roasting facility, a press release notes.

Boutique architectural studio HR Design Department oversaw design duties. “With appreciation for the minimalist dignity of Northrop’s utilitarian box, our approach lightly touches the exterior while adding vibrant accents that activate the original loading dock. Colors derive inspiration from the local context, namely a nod to our beloved Astros’ stadium,” the firm notes in a statement.

“We are proud to restore this landmark to its original beauty,” said Scarlet cofounder Daniel Ron in a statement. “From boutiques seeking a unique space to make their own, to major brands looking for a landmark storefront or office, 1701 Commerce has something special to offer. The energy gravitating to downtown Houston is unprecedented and we’re thrilled to be contributing to this neighborhood.”

Located just two blocks from Minute Maid Park and a quick jaunt to the George R. Brown Convention Center, the 1701 Commerce St. promises to be a central hub for retail and office tenants.

“This northern pocket of downtown, near Allen’s Landing, has been at the heart of Houston’s economic growth from the beginning,” noted Scarlet cofounder Alexander Ron in a statement, “and the projects that bring out the most passion for us have always been adaptive reuse. It’s such a beautiful practice to give a second set of wings to these old, grand buildings from Houston’s early days.”

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