Imperial Market Moves Closer to Reality
It’s full speed ahead for the ambitious project to convert the historic structures of the former Imperial Sugar Refinery into an upscale shopping, dining, apartment and entertainment venue following the recent announcement that ground breaking at the site could take place early next year.
The project being led by Imperial Market Development, LLC, under the direction of co-developers Jim Murnane and Geoffrey Jones, calls for transforming the 777,500-square foot property located at U.S. 90A and State Highway 6 into a destination that will include high-end boutique shops and restaurants, Class A office space, the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center and the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation Museum, in addition to luxury apartments.
“We want visitors to Imperial Market to know they are somewhere special; a place which expresses authenticity and underscores the history of the site,??? Murnane said.
The development will include 269,000 square feet of retail space, 86,400 square feet of second floor office space above the retail, a 120-room boutique hotel and a 275-unit apartment.
Designs call for the iconic Char House, built in 1925, to be converted into the luxury hotel, along with an adjacent building providing 10,000-square feet of conference/meeting space and a fitness center. The blue prints also include the restoration and relocation of Imperial’s twin smokestacks, which will serve as the focal point of the development’s central greenspace, a 30,000-square foot park.
Murnane said the historic nature of the property led to some very specific challenges for his team and the architectural firm of HOK, which has been leading the design phase since December 2014.
“We had to respect and preserve the historic structures and we didn’t want to design the new buildings so they would look like cheap knock offs or imitations,??? Murnane said. “We’ve taken the elements of the historic building—the brick color and steel—and designed the new buildings so people would look at them and say they have cool modern elements, but then scratch their head and say, ‘I guess it’s an old factory building that they’ve re-done.’ We don’t want it to look like it’s old and new. We want it to look like the new buildings could have been built in 1900, but are clearly enhanced with modern elements.???
To that end, Murnane said they assured Sugar Land officials, who have been on board completely from the project’s conception, that the materials used would be first-rate: there will be no stucco or siding used in the project. He said many historic artifacts will be retained and on display around the property.
“I’ve done business with a lot of cities and every one has its quirks, but Sugar Land is the best I’ve ever dealt with. They get it, and they’re so progressive in the way they think. In return, we told them we treasure the site as much as you do.??? Murnane said.
Murnane says the developers are looking to have a good mix of national and local retailers and restaurants on the property.
The project is expected to cost from about $150 million to $162 million and Murnane said they are hoping to break ground in January or February 2016. Construction, being handled by Houston based DE Harvey, is schedule to take about 16 months (weather permitting), so a mid-year 2017 timeline is tentatively set for the grand opening. Imperial Sugar closed the property in 2003.
Read the full article on the Sugar Land Sun’s Website.