Business

Clean Energy Tech Incubator To Move Into Former Midtown Houston Fiesta

Greentown Houston will be part of the innovation district centered at the Ion at the site of the former Sears building.

A recent photo of the Ion development at the site of a former Sears in Midtown Houston, across from what will be a new clean energy incubator.

The former Fiesta Mart in Houston's Midtown will be turned into a clean energy incubator, run by Somerville, Massachusetts-based Greentown Labs.

The company will renovate the former grocery store to host about 50 startup companies on 40,000 square feet of labs, offices and community space.

Greentown Houston will be across the street from the Ion, the center of Houston’s new innovation district and is expected to open next spring.

"They are the place where startups and entrepreneurs who want to think differently about energy can grow their business," said Ryan LeVasseur, managing director at Rice Management Co., the owner and developer of the district.

He said Greentown Houston will complement the Ion's first tenant, Chevron Technology Ventures, the oil and gas major's tech innovation arm, whose mission also centers on energy transition.

"Organizations and partners like Greentown Labs will play a vital role in helping our City meet the goals outlined in the Climate Action Plan and will put us on the right track for becoming a leader in the global energy transition," read a statement from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Community advocates have been lamenting the loss of Fiesta, which had fresh fruit and produce for people living in the area.

LeVasseur said he hopes another grocer will consider the area once the innovation district is up and running.

“As we and our developing partners build out this district, there will be more purchasing power in the immediate area and that may prove for an opportunity for a grocer to come in there in the future,” he said. “But right now, there's not enough immediate demand in that location and there is very strong competition from several stores just about a mile away.”

The midtown Fiesta closed in July before the end of its lease with Rice Management, citing declining sales over the past years.

Starting Sept. 29, Rice Management Co. and the city of Houston will be hosting several virtual workshops with community groups to form a community benefits agreement for the innovation district.

Advocates are asking for affordable housing to be developed, support of minority-owned businesses, hiring of minorities for the construction and inclusion of entrepreneurs from the community at the Ion.

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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