Subur­ban, yet funky

Ho­tel ZaZa to open out­post in Me­mo­rial City with ur­ban aes­thetic sim­i­lar to its orig­i­nal in the Mu­seum District

Houston Chronicle - - BUSINESS - By Paul Taka­hashi

T

he funky, eclec­tic vibe of Hous­ton’s new­est bou­tique ho­tel be­lies its subur­ban lo­ca­tion. But that ur­ban aes­thetic is ex­actly what de­vel­oper MetroNa­tional hopes to bring to Me­mo­rial City, en­vi­sioned nearly 60 years ago by founder Joseph John­son as a “city within a city” out in west Hous­ton.

“If some­one told us 25 years ago that Ho­tel ZaZa was go­ing to an­chor this de­vel­op­ment, we would have laughed,” pres­i­dent MetroNa­tional Ja­son John­son, the founder’s grand­son, said. “This ho­tel proves that west Hous­ton is grow­ing into its own.”

Built on a for­mer park­ing lot, the Kirk­sey-de­signed 17-story tower fea­tures 10 floors of ho­tel rooms and 133 apart­ment units on the up­per floors. The 159 lux­ury ho­tel rooms de­signed by Kathy An­der­son’s Ek­lek­tik In­te­ri­ors boast art deco fur­ni­ture, king-size beds with artsy head­boards and but­ter­fly de­signs, and mid­cen­tury mod­ern sputnik lights.

Ho­tel ZaZa Me­mo­rial City will bring a sen­si­bil­ity fa­mil­iar at its first Mu­seum District lo­ca­tion — think fam­ily “stay­ca­tion,” girls’ night out or a bach­e­lorette party — to west Hous­ton when it opens Dec. 1. Move-ins at The McCarthy apart­ments are ex­pected to be­gin in Fe­bru­ary.

“This brings a com­pletely dif­fer­ent clien­tele to west Hous­ton, be­yond that cor­po­rate user who stays at a typ­i­cal ho­tel,” John­son said. “A lot of peo­ple want to come into the city for the week­end, look­ing for a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence.”

For more dis­cern­ing guests, Ho­tel ZaZa of­fers eight themed “Mag­nif­i­cent Seven Suites,” larger suites de­signed by Dun­can Miller Ull­mann De­sign. Hote­lier Z Re­sorts has 50 so-called “con­cept” suites in Ho­tel ZaZa lo­ca­tions across Texas, which fea­ture

themed fur­ni­ture, ac­ces­sories and de­signs mod­eled af­ter travel des­ti­na­tions.

“We wanted to take our guests and trans­port them to a place where they feel like they’re at a beach or in Paris,” in­te­rior de­signer Kim­ber­ley Miller said. “It gives them a sense of place.”

Ho­tel ZaZa also fea­tures a spa, gym and “beach club” with a re­sort-style pool and ca­banas. In ad­di­tion, there will be 11,000 square feet of event space, in­clud­ing a ball­room, foyer and con­fer­ence room over­look­ing a Ciro’s res­tau­rant and a 7,000-square-foot lawn for events. On the ground floor, the Tip­ping Point res­tau­rant will serve Amer­i­canstyle cui­sine.

The ho­tel al­ready has two hol­i­day par­ties and two wed­dings sched­uled for De­cem­ber, as well as eight other wed­dings booked in 2018, ac­cord­ing to Ian Bush, the ho­tel’s gen­eral man­ager. The dou­ble king-sized bed­rooms start at $279 per night, and the suites start at $900 a night.

The build­ing is MetroNa­tional’s first mixed-use ho­tel-apart­ment tower, John­son said. As Me­mo­rial City has grown be­yond the mall to in­clude of­fice, ho­tel, restau­rants, the de­vel­oper has been adding more apart­ments in re­cent years.

The Foun­tains, a 114-unit lux­ury apart­ment, opened in 2010, and MetroNa­tional is work­ing with Gil­bane and Slate Real Es­tate Part­ners on a 333-unit apart­ment project called Bar­ry­knoll.

“We needed some more res­i­den­tial,” John­son said. “We’ve been a lit­tle un­der­served on the apart­ment side. This was a great op­por­tu­nity to put in mul­ti­fam­ily units and have more of an ur­ban feel on this side of the cam­pus.”

The McCarthy apart­ments fea­ture the typ­i­cal lux­ury fin­ishes: stain­less steel ap­pli­ances, gran­ite coun­ter­tops, a speaker sys­tem, and views of down­town and the Gal­le­ria area. The units, which range from a 530-square-foot stu­dio to a 2,000-square-foot pent­house, also have some hos­pi­tal­ity touches, such as en­try­way sconces and ho­tel-style doorstops.

Pent­house res­i­dents will have free valet park­ing and room ser­vice. Lin­coln Prop­erty Co., which man­ages The McCarthy, did not re­lease the rental rates.

The apart­ments will likely ap­peal to high-in­come mil­len­ni­als and en­ergy pro­fes­sion­als in their late 30s and early 40s who want to live near work and have ac­cess to con­ve­nient ho­tel-like ameni­ties and restau­rants. Ho­tel guests and apart­ment res­i­dents can walk from the tower to Me­mo­rial City Mall in min­utes, John­son said.

“Just be­ing on top of ZaZa is a great amenity for our res­i­dents,” John­son said.

Ul­ti­mately, MetroNa­tional hopes adding a bou­tique ho­tel, res­tau­rant, apart­ments and events spa­ces can drive more shop­pers to Me­mo­rial City Mall, the linch­pin of Me­mo­rial City.

As on­line shop­ping has roiled subur­ban shop­ping malls around the coun­try, re­tail de­vel­op­ers are seek­ing new ways to cre­ate a re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence to en­tice shop­pers away from Ama­zon and the like, John­son said. “E-com­merce will af­fect us, but this is one of the bet­ter-per­form­ing malls in Hous­ton, typ­i­cally only sec­ond to the Gal­le­ria,” John­son said. “We’ll be here for quite some time.”

paul.taka­hashi@chron.com twit­ter.com/paultaka­hashi

Some rooms at the new Ho­tel ZaZa in Me­mo­rial City fea­ture a beach theme. The 17-story tower fea­tures 10 floors of ho­tel rooms and 133 apart­ment units on the up­per floors.

Michael Wyke photos

Ja­son John­son, pres­i­dent of MetroNa­tional, shows a two-bed­room res­i­dence on the up­per floors of the new Ho­tel ZaZa. The apart­ments are called The McCarthy.

Michael Wyke

A faux wed­ding shows how the ball­room space can be used at the the new ho­tel.

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