Honest materials bind the framework for Heights Mercantile, a low-rise mixed-use development that’s home to eclectic dining, office, and retail spaces in the historic Heights neighborhood.
What makes the materials like exposed steel, corrugated metal panels, and cross braces honest is that they all reference the metal warehouse previously on the site and reveal how a building is constructed.
“We were very careful about not trying to completely erase the history of this site, but instead embrace it and create this really beautiful contrast of something that is weathered and old with something that is pretty new,” Steve Radom, Managing Principal of Radom Capital, says.
Born in Los Angeles, Steve Radom and his family relocated to Houston while he was in high school. His father’s commercial real estate business introduced Steve to the dynamic industry at an early age, exposing him both inter loop and suburban properties. After Steve received his master’s degree in accounting from the University of Texas, he rejoined the family business for seven years, a period that shaped his aspirations to develop thoughtful projects that would serve as community pillars. “I was very passionate about exploring green spaces in the ways that Houstonians typically don’t,” Steve says. In 2014, he turned this passion into Radom Capital, the local real estate development and investment firm that built Heights Mercantile.
Repurposed spaces can contribute to the preservation of a city’s history, and Radom Capital is committed to creating projects that help retain Houston’s history and character.
“The idea we put in place with the Heights Mercantile project was to contrast the past and present and have it to where you’re not quite sure what was there before or what’s brand new, let that line blur a little bit in a playful way,” Steve says, “I think people love things that have soul and character.”
Heights Mercantile is the latest in a string of repurposed projects the Radom firm has revitalized. Their catalog includes the reimagining of a 1955 Heights washeteria converted to a locally sourced popsicle shop, and the 1930s Star Engraving Company on Allen Parkway restored “surgically” to its original glory. The projects are architecturally unique, existing in bustling pockets of Houston that only need a modern twist. “Unless you’re willing to commit to new construction that creates a really unique space,” Steve says, “Then you’re just inherently not going to have the same texture, vibe, and character that you had in something older.”
To be mindful of the Heights Mercantile site, Radom Capital retained the existing pathways and driveways to keep the setting mostly original. Next, they activated the block of 7th street between Heights Boulevard and Yale Street with a confluence of pedestrian-friendly elements. The project is anchored next to Donovan Park with a popular hike and bike trail. It includes wide interconnected sidewalks dressed in attractive landscaping to encourage walkability, and ample outdoor seating among umbrellas and trees to create inviting gathering spaces.
If developers can find the charms in a building’s imperfect qualities, Steve says, builders can tell a more compelling story. To tell its own narrative, the firm selects projects that are rich in a community’s history; spaces that enhance rather than overtake the character of Houston.
Steve is an eternal optimist, choosing to produce bespoke projects rather than cookie-cutter development. Like the metal warehouse that stood before Heights Mercantile was established, the firm will continue to revive recollections from the past.
“It’s a cool feeling when you see people enjoy your spaces,” Steve says.
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