Next Up for Former Exxon Building: Dog Friendly Offices and Artist Studios

Plans for dog friendly offices and artist studios are on the drawing board for Republic Square, a redevelopment of the former Exxon Mobil Chemical campus in west Houston's Energy Corridor by Third Palm Capital.

Since opening a year ago, nearly 70 leases have been signed, with small businesses and tech companies signing deals to move to the park-like campus on 35 acres at 13501 Katy Freeway. The property, just west of Terry Hershey Park, extends south to Memorial Drive.

Third Palm Capital and Boxer Property, which is providing leasing and management services, anticipate reaching 40,000 square feet of leased space by late summer. About half the space is Boxer's Workstyle-branded collaborative space. The Workstyle offices include shared spaces such as conference rooms, open huddle/lounge areas, coffee bars, and access to WiFi and bike sharing.

Original plans calling for a mixed-use project with multiple office towers, a hotel, luxury apartments, and shops and restaurants were put on hold after the collapse in oil prices three years ago.

The new plan, which is being done in phases, has opened up the campus to new tenants as well as community events. Work on the second phase, which could bring 10,000 square feet of flexible office and artist studio space on the first floor, could begin as early as fall. A fitness facility with separate men's and women's locker rooms is in the planning stages.

"Few developers have the chance to really immerse themselves in a location to determine community and tenant needs and wants in the way that we've been able to do here," Randall Tuller, executive manager for Third Palm Capital, said in an announcement.

"It's effectively become an incubator for incubators that is helping to reshape the master plan, eventually resulting in what we feel will be a more sustainable and successful destination in the long term."

Also this fall, renovations and leasing will focus on the second and third floors of the four-story, 320,000-square-foot building. A rooftop parking deck has generated interest for markets, car club rallies and fashion shows, according to the developer.

"Through meetings with various art entities and while interacting with participants in our seasonal ART IS AN Outdoor Market initiative – the next is scheduled for September 30 – we've learned that not only is there a need and desire to have studio space in West Houston, but there could be additional satellite partnership opportunities with art educators given the number of students from Memorial to Katy that make up inner loop class loads," Tuller said.

- Houston Chronicle, Katherine Feser