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Real Estate / Neighborhoods

Should You Live in EaDo? The Real Truths of Houston’s New Hipster Haven

New Bars, Restaurants, Townhouses and Even a Nearby H-E-B Continue to Transform the Neighborhood

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In 2011, Ryan Soroka signed the lease for his 8th Wonder Brewery in East Downtown — EaDo for short. The team was looking for a large industrial space as close to downtown as possible with affordable rent. There was nothing much else around EaDo back then, but Soroka saw potential.

“We thought this neighborhood could really be something,” he tells PaperCity.

A few months later, it was announced that the BBVA Compass Stadium — the Houston Dynamo’s home — would be built in EaDo.

Located on the other side of I-59 from downtown Houston, EaDo is one of the fastest growing areas of the city. A former industrial area and former Chinatown, the neighborhood was all but filled with vacant, dilapidated warehouses until the last decade.

BBVA Compass Stadium has been followed by a flurry of commercial and residential development. Over just the last few years, developers have invested more than $250 million in EaDo, according to Houston Properties.

EaDo has piqued the interest not just of big developers but also individual buyers, attracted to the allure of a new, exciting neighborhood, and the potential for an investment that could pay off handsomely in the future.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for investing your money into something that’s going to continue to grow for years on,” said Tommy Walker, Houston Metro team leader for Turner Mangum, a real estate firm. The median sales price for the 77003 zip code — which is mostly made up of EaDo — went from $204,500 in 2010 to $342,500 in 2019, and the median sales price per square foot was $119 in 2010 and $180 in 2019, according to Houston Properties. And this is expected to grow even more.

The EaDo Equation

Today, a typical new-construction townhouse will have three bedrooms, three and a half baths and a two-car garage, says Walker. Depending on the exact location, these generally go for between $300,000 to $500,000 in EaDo — the farther east and closer to the freeways, the cheaper they will be.

Paige Martin, a broker associate at Keller Williams Realty, says most buyers in EaDo are looking to live in their homes for four to seven years.

“They do expect to turn a profit,” she adds.

According to Martin, the main draws are short commutes to Downtown and the Houston Medical Center, great accessibility to restaurants, bars and METRORail, as well as affordability — land value is half the cost of Downtown’s. She also noted that some investors are purchasing in EaDo to create Airbnb rentals, because of the demand from BBVA Stadium games and the nearby George R. Brown Convention Center.

There can be some difficulties buyers should consider if the goal is resale. Houston Properties has conducted studies on the risks of resale, and some EaDo properties meet three of the risky criteria: too close to a freeway, too close to a major throughfare, and built by “reputation-challenged builders.” Martin says there are a number of these in EaDo.

“It’s critical to know the principals behind the construction and their history,” she says. On the bright side, EaDo as a whole fared well during the latest floods.

The Grocery Store Debate

One important amenity people say is missing in EaDo is a grocery store. Soroka of 8th Wonder Brewery likens it to a chicken and egg situation in terms of attracting new people:

“The big stores want the population density to be there, but the residents want a grocery store to be there,” he says.

Walker doesn’t agree that this is a big issue.

“I think it’s more of a mental thing for people,” he says, pointing out that many suburbs don’t have a grocery store in the community either. “You still have to drive a good 5, 10, 15 minutes to a grocery store.”

Plus, Martin notes there’s an H-E-B currently being built in Third Ward, very close to EaDo.

Another thing to consider when buying in EaDo is that it’s a neighborhood in constant development— meaning constant construction work.

There was extensive road construction in the area from June 2018 to March 2019. Businesses suffered, Soroka notes, and they are still feeling the aftermath now, as traffic hasn’t quite picked up to pre-construction levels.

“Construction equipment everywhere, roads destroyed, mud pits, rivers filling the streets. . .” Soroka describes, but he stresses that such infrastructural investment is necessary.

“It’s a short-term headache for what we all hope is a long-term gain and benefit to the area,” he says.

None of this has kept business owners from betting big on EaDo. In the last two years alone, many new businesses have opened, including Truck Yard, SeaSide Poke, True Anomaly Brewing and a trio of Agricole Hospitality concepts: Indianola, Miss Carousel and Vinny’s.

truck yard
Truck Yard is the hippest place in EaDo.

Other recent additions to the neighborhood include a BCycle station and a dog park — cutely named EaDog Park.

What’s Next in EaDo?

Prospective residents have many more things to look forward to in the coming months and years. Jessica Bacorn, executive director of the EaDo management district, has been overseeing several infrastructure and beautification projects, including hike and bike trails, street art, sidewalk enhancement and pedestrian amenities such as benches, trash cans and lighting.

A market-based parking ordinance just passed in EaDo, “a big win for [the] district,” Bacorn says. The management district is also working with both TxDOT and an organization called Scenic Houston to make certain areas along the freeways greener and more pleasant.

“The good thing about the developers we’ve been meeting with recently is they want to keep that funky culture vibe that EaDo has,” says Bacorn, noting that many old warehouses are being restored for new uses.

The commercial development is not showing signs of slowing down. Lovett Commercial bought a 99,000-square-foot warehouse, which it plans to transform into a sprawling mixed-use space encompassing restaurants, shops, art studios and offices. Former Houston Dynamo player Brian Ching will be opening his second EaDo venture this fall, East End Backyard, following Pitch 25 Beer Park, which opened last year. Hotel RL is also planning a location near BBVA Compass Stadium, slated for 2023.

Even bigger projects are also underway. The hotly debated North Houston Highway Improvement Project will have a major impact on EaDo, notably through a proposed 30-acre cap park that would replace portions of I-45 and I-69 between Downtown and EaDo.

“That would be a huge game changer for the district,” Bacorn says. The massive endeavor is currently projected to start in 2023, for full completion five years later.

It could take several years for EaDo to reach its full potential, but all signs suggest that it’s a neighborhood on the upswing.

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