Rice University Lays Foundation for Houston Innovation Hub

April 24, 2018 | Client Results

Last fall, Jackson Walker successfully represented Rice Management Company, which oversees Rice University’s $5.8 billion endowment, in the purchase of the historic Sears building and three adjoining acres in Midtown Houston. Vytas A. Petrulis led the Jackson Walker team in the transaction, which included real estate associate Carey L. Hain in Houston and environmental partner Peter K. Wahl in Dallas.

On April 12, 2018, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Rice University officials announced plans to transform the four-story, 190,000-square-foot retail center and surrounding land into an innovation and incubation facility. The $100 million redevelopment project cements the city’s vision for a new Midtown innovation district by establishing a hub designed to foster collaboration between the academic, financial, and business communities.

The 9.4-acre site will feature co-working spaces, classrooms, offices, and other commercial uses, including housing, restaurants, and entertainment.

“We aim to attract talent and support all stages of the innovation life cycle through state-of-the-art resources, incubators and accelerators, classroom and event space, technology, prototyping facilities, networking opportunities, and entrepreneurship support and training,” Rice President David Leebron said in a news release.

“This will be an innovation and incubation facility for all Houston. Rice owns the property, but the enterprise will be a collaborative mix of many different participants and activities.”

The university, which is located on a 300-acre campus in Houston, ranks among the top 20 universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The Rice entrepreneurship ecosystem houses programs, courses, and co-curricular opportunities that serve students, staff, faculty, and the community.

For more information about the deal, read Houston Chronicle’s “Rice, partners envision innovative future for retired Sears building in Midtown.” To learn more about Jackson Walker’s practice experience, view the Real Estate page.

Meet Our Team

Real estate partner Vytas A. Petrulis serves clients in real estate development, investment, leasing, and finance. Vytas is experienced in all aspects of commercial real estate law, including multifamily transactions and office leasing. He has represented real estate investment trusts, pension funds and opportunity funds in real estate acquisitions and dispositions including large, multistate portfolio transactions, institutional landlords and corporate tenants in office, industrial and retail leasing, developers in real estate development projects including complex, mixed-use projects, and lenders and borrowers in commercial loan transactions. Vytas is Board Certified in Commercial Real Estate by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Real estate associate Carey L. Hain’s practice focuses on all aspects of commercial real estate transactions, including the acquisition, disposition, financing, and leasing of office space, mixed-use centers,  multifamily complexes, and undeveloped property. Carey represents borrowers and lenders in interim, permanent, and construction financing secured by real estate. She also regularly assists in office and retail leasing matters and operational and property management issues in Texas and across the nation.

Environmental partner Peter K. Wahl’s practice concentrates on environmental, health, and safety matters. Pete’s involvement with regulatory matters includes counseling regarding federal and state laws, regulations, and permits and their impact on industrial operations. He is regularly involved in transactional matters, including the acquisition and divestiture of steelmaking, electric generation, and oil and gas assets. Pete has also assisted with environmental aspects of several large bankruptcy reorganizations in the steel, chemical, manufacturing, and agriculture industries.

Meet JW

For more than 130 years, Jackson Walker has played a vital role in the growth and development of Texas business. Since our founding in 1887, our attorneys have represented some of the most influential companies in the state in key industries that shaped the course of Texas history, including railroads, the media, and oil and gas exploration. Today, we remain firmly rooted in Texas while serving clients around the globe. With more than 375 attorneys in our seven offices, we serve clients around the world in a broad range of practices and industries. Our clients know they can count on us to deliver personalized service, legal experience, and added value.

In This Story

Vytas A. Petrulis
Partner, Houston

Peter K. Wahl
Partner, Dallas