News | Fertitta’s new tower to offer a wealth of luxury
April 23, 2015
By Nancy Sarnoff | Houston Chronicle
From his spacious office on the top floor of his Uptown headquarters, Tilman Fertitta will have a bird’s-eye view of this area’s newest flashy real estate development: his own.
The 10-acre site, one of the rare, largely undeveloped parcels off the West Loop, will include a glistening multiuse tower with 240 luxury hotel rooms and suites and, for the highest-rolling guests, a private elevator to whisk them to a 4,000-square-foot “Chairman Suite” with its own fitness center.
The tower also will feature 11 floors of “boutique” office space catering to elite tenants who can afford the pricey space and such perks as chartered helicopter or jet service from a private fleet owned by the developer or luxury car service. Office workers staying late will be able to order a New York strip from the steakhouse just a few steps away.
Fertitta’s latest high-profile project, to be called The Post Oak, combines much of what the billionaire restaurant and casino magnate has become known for over the years: restaurants, hotels and expensive cars.
Connected to the 35-story tower, for example, a ballroom and conference area big enough to house a wedding or charity gala with more than 1,000 guests will have two-story glass display showcasing a small collection of Bentleys and Rolls-Royces.
Fertitta, who has owned the land next to his Galleria-area headquarters building for almost a decade, said he always envisioned a top-class hotel there, but what he’s planning now is even “more grand.”
“Remember, I’m the guy that took the old fire station and made it an aquarium. I took the old Flagship (hotel in Galveston) and made it the Pleasure Pier. I took an old fishing village and made it the Kemah Boardwalk,” he said Wednesday from his posh corporate office, which overlooks the site on the West Loop, south of Post Oak Boulevard. “I like developing unique things.”
After taking Landry’s, primarily a restaurant business, private in 2010, Fertitta continued to expand. He bought more eatery chains and bet big on casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., and Biloxi, Miss. Late last year, he opened the $700 million Golden Nugget in Lake Charles, La.
The Post Oak project likely will cost more than $200 million to build and will add to the cluster of construction cranes already hovering over the Uptown neighborhood. Billions of dollars worth of new residential towers, retail space, hotels and offices are being added to this area.
While the price of oil has cratered and energy companies are laying off thousands of workers, many real estate projects are still moving forward.
Fertitta, who said in a national television interview last fall that the U.S. real estate market and Houston could be headed for a bust, said he’s still worried about the economy, but his business is still going strong. The customer he’s targeting at The Post Oak, he said, is not affected by the downturn.
He’s targeting wealthy individuals who can pay for “the most expensive office space and hotel rooms in Houston,” Fertitta said.
It’s been a long time since a hotel has been built in Houston along the lines of a St. Regis or Four Seasons, said hotel consultant Randy McCaslin, but now, other luxury properties are being proposed in the Galleria area with room rates in the low to mid-$300s.
New hotels coming at a time when demand is expected to fall will pinch the market, but McCaslin isn’t overly concerned.
“The good news is we’re starting at very high occupancies and rates,” he said. Plus, now is probably a good time to build with the economy slowing and construction materials expected to come down, said McCaslin, senior vice president PKF Consulting USA, A CBRE Co.
The Post Oak development will include the existing office building that houses Fertitta’s company, Landry’s, as well as his Post Oak Motor Cars luxury auto dealership.
In addition to the hotel rooms and more than 120,000 square feet of office space, the tower will include 22 apartments ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 square feet.
An adjacent ballroom and conference area will combine to encompass 30,000 square feet.
A Mastro’s Steakhouse, the first one in Texas, and Willie G’s Seafood and Steaks will also be developed in stand-alone buildings on the property. The restaurants are expected to open in the spring of 2017. Willie G’s will be relocating from its longtime site on Post Oak Boulevard. The high-rise and conference area will have additional retail space, including additional eateries and a spa, all of which will be operated by Fertitta’s company.
Gensler is providing master planning, architecture and interior design services for the project, which is scheduled to be completed by late summer 2017, and Tellespsen is the general contractor. Work preparing the site for development has already started.
Along with the buildings and outdoor patios, The Post Oak will incorporate “walkable streets shaded by mature oak trees,” Gensler design principal Raffael Scasserra said in a statement. It will have “timeless classic design features accented with modern furnishings, finishes and lighting,” added Gensler’s Lisa Pope-Westerman.
The high-rise won’t be branded with the Landry’s name, but it will have a version of the company’s logo — four diamonds in a row in a light feature atop the building. “It’s a subtle message that it is us,” Fertitta said.