W E S TC H AS E T O D AY
A n E W S l E T T E r f O r A n D A b O u T “ T H E C O m m u n i T Y T H AT m E A n S b u S i n E S S . ”
Year 13 | Issue 3
Woodlake Square Transformed September 2011
Into Walkable Urban Environment
This conceptual drawing shows
early plans for the 256-unit Alta
Woodlake Square. While the
design will likely evolve before
construction starts, Wood Partners
and AmREIT are excited about
bringing a high-end apartment
community to Westchase District.
A ltogether, AmREIT owns approximately 28 acres of land in Westchase District, all
located at one of the District’s most strategic intersections. To say the company is
having a big effect on the redevelopment of the area is an understatement.
Known in the real estate business by its slogan, “The Irreplaceable Corner ™ Company,”
AmREIT has transformed Westheimer and Gessner into an “irreplaceable corner,” and it’s not
the elements work together, creating a nice,
walkable, pedestrian-friendly environment.”
Coming into the mix is a 256-unit,
upscale apartment community being developed
by Wood Partners. While the community is
The community, which will be Energy
Star certified, will be built on the north side of
the property behind Walgreens. The three-story
buildings will wrap around structured parking
and will feature studio, one-bedroom and
done yet. still in the design phase, Todd Gaines, Wood two-bedroom apartment homes. “It will have
AmREIT purchased the property in 2007 with plans to remodel and renovate the property, Partners development associate, says it will a modern, contemporary look,” says Gaines,
restoring luster to a corner that had become somewhat tired. That intersection is one of the be a Class A property with Class A amenities, “with flat roofs, and a mixture of cladding,
busiest in Houston, “perfect for retail,” according to AmREIT’s Managing Vice President of including granite countertops, vinyl plank wood including stucco, brick and stone.”
Development Ron Lindsey. flooring, stainless steel appliances, tile back Wood Partners was attracted to this
The first step was to demolish and rebuild the existing Randalls store. The new 59,230- splash and upgraded lighting and technical project because “AmREIT always does class
square-foot store has made a welcome return to the neighborhood it had served since 1979. The features, all desired by today’s upscale, urban jobs,” according to Gaines. “Our office is four
new store was built further north on the property, aligning it with the existing retail space just east apartment residents. floors below AmREIT’s here in Houston, so
of the original store location. we’ve been talking about doing a project with
In fact, the site plan was completely revised to improve traffic flow while accommodating them for a long time. The work they’ve done
a new Randalls fuel center and new retail space. Existing tenants, including Jos. A. Bank, Napoli “At Woodlake, we widened at Woodlake makes that area a great amenity
Restaurant and the Postal + Copy store, were moved to new locations within the center, while new
tenants include the Corner Bakery, Lux Nail Spa and Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
the sidewalks and installed for our community residents. Plus we like
the location in Westchase, with access to the
A driveway and pedestrian walkway was added next to Napoli, allowing motorists and more attractive canopies Galleria area and Memorial.”
pedestrian customers alike to easily access the north side of the center, where Baubles and Beads to make it an attractive The company expects to demolish the
and Pro Physique have relocated. Napoli even added outdoor patio seating, a feature popular with
urban planners and diners alike.
pedestrian environment.” existing building and begin construction in early
2012. They plan to begin leasing in February
“This style of development is called ‘horizontal mixed use,’” explains Lindsey. “All of Continued on page 3.
TA b l E O f C O n T E n T S
Wonderland in Westchase — Tex-Mex Cuisine Attracts
THE “WHAT” It’s Wonderful! Customers to Westchase
AND THE PG. 3 PG. 6
“SO WHAT” Senior Communities Offer ABB Consolidates in
Convenience for Families Westchase District
PG. 2 PG. 4 PG. 7
Address Service Requested ®
PERMIT NO. 600 www.westchasedistrict.com
PAID Houston, TX 77042 Bicycle Makes Policeman Who’s Who in Westchase
More Approachable PG. 8
U.S.POSTAGE Suite 1175
10375 Richmond DISTRICT
W E S TC H AS E T O D AY
The “What” and the “So What”
The Westchase District is a municipal manage-
ment district funded by local property owners in a n talking about Westchase District, we often confuse of people from our community and is a growing success. You’ll
4.2 square mile area centered on the Sam Houston people — and sometimes ourselves — in distinguishing read about Sgt. Curtis Hampton, one of our HPD bike patrol
Tollway between I-10 and US-59 in Houston, Texas. the physical place known as Westchase District as distinct officers. Our Public Safety program has really benefited from
It is home to 81,000 employees and 28,000 from Westchase District, the entity that works to improve adding this element a few years ago. The Gessner esplanades
residents. We promote and encourage economic the geographic area. This edition of Westchase Today has that are targeted for our next beautification project add value for
development through programs that enhance public two kinds of stories that owners and tenants alike. And the final activity of Westchase
safety, area mobility, area marketing, area image and help clarify the difference. District is the addition of Patrick Manchi of Weingarten Realty as
beautification. There are those about what a Board member. He will be a great addition.
the operating entity does If you read just a bit further, you will see a series of
(the “What”) and what is stories about businesses choosing Westchase District to
happening in our community move to, stay in, build in, and launch in – the “So what’s?”
(the “So What?”) as a result. Wood Partners’ new apartment development is positive news
It is tempting to take and shows that there is more room on the upper end of the
credit for all the good things residential market. ABB’s decision to remain in Westchase
happening here but that District, when they had worldwide relocation opportunities,
would be inaccurate to say attests to the work environment here. Los Tios, one of our oldest
the least. However, it would restaurants, is profiled, as is one of our newest businesses,
also be inaccurate to say Westchase District D’Amico Dance. La
that our work has no impact Mancion is also a new
on these businesses and property owners. Our mission is to development as well as
develop and maintain an environment that attracts new firms, a relatively new concept,
capital and people while ensuring that we retain our existing upscale adult day care.
residents and businesses. By constantly monitoring the And for your answer to
market and keeping in close contact with our stakeholders, we the next question, the “Now
General Manager have established a dialogue with our various constituencies What?” see your issue of
that allows us to conduct programs that are effective in Westchase Today. There is
Dave Gilkeson themselves and in their impact. more to come. WT
VP, Chief Operating Officer
The “what” programs of corporate Westchase District
Sherry Fox cover the gamut in this issue. Wonderland in Westchase is Board Chairman
VP, Communications one of our signature community events. It draws thousands Westchase District
Patrick Manchi Starts Four-Year Term
Public Safety Director
Administrative Assistant New Member Brings Vast Real Estate Experience to District Board
Theola Cooper he newest member of the have a good cast of retailers who provide a variety of
Westchase District Board of services for the community.”
Vivian Little Directors, Patrick Manchi, is An example? D’Amico Dance Studio, which
Projects Administrative Assistant eager to get started with his primary area recently opened in the Market at Westchase.
of focus: serving on the communications “One thing that appealed to me when the deal
Information Technologist committee that’s working to attract new was brought to us was that the D’Amicos seemed
businesses and residents to Houston’s first-class and have a great reputation,” he recalls.
Westchase District. As vice president and “That’s what we go for: a tenant who will bring a good
Westchase Today is published by the Westchase
regional leasing director for Weingarten customer base that will go well with the rest of the
District. Please direct all inquiries to Editor,
Realty Investors, he looks forward to project.” (More on D’Amico Dance on page 6.)
Westchase Today, Westchase District, 10375
playing an active part in guiding the growth He’s quick to credit some of the centers’
Richmond, Suite 1175, Houston, TX 77042.
of an area that has brought prosperity success to Westchase District’s constant quest to
Telephone: 713-780-9434 Fax: 713-780-8025.
to two of his company’s properties, the upgrade the area and maintain its quality.
We welcome your comments and story ideas.
235,539-square-foot Westchase Shopping “It doesn’t take much to have an area turn
Visit us online at www.westchasedistrict.com. Patrick Manchi hopes
Center and the Market at Westchase, downward,” he says. “The people at Westchase
to attract new businesses
which occupies 87,000 square feet. Both and residents to Westchase District truly have a vision to improve the area and
properties are located on the south side of District. Manchi enjoys reading, its quality of life. They’re not thinking about the next
Westheimer at Wilcrest. barbecuing and spending time couple of years, they’re thinking long-term — 20
with his family, including wife
“Our properties have performed years out.”
Jennifer, daughter Caroline,
well,” he explains. “They are centrally son Will and step-daughter He’s eager to play a part in fulfilling that vision.
located in this part of town, and they Cassidy McSween. “Weingarten wants to make a contribution to helping
W E S TC H AS E T O D AY
Wonderland in Westchase — It’s Wonderful!
Annual Event Brings Residents, Businesses
Together to Celebrate the Holidays
o matter what the weather forecast says next people who attend to bring a bag of food or a new toy or a cash adjacent neighborhoods and send their children to school in the District.
Thursday, Dec. 15, people in West Houston can donation,” Quillian Center Director Tom Gaden, chairman of the Wonderland in Westchase brings people and businesses together.”
count on snow. Instead of falling from the sky, organizing committee, explains. “The contributions go to the West Gaden makes this point: “This event provides tremendous
thousands of pounds of the powdery stuff will arrive by truck at First Houston Assistance Ministry and House of Amos. exposure to the businesses, and it offers an opportunity for them to give
Methodist Houston’s Quillian Center, 10570 Westpark, just in time for something back to the community and their customers.”
Wonderland in Westchase. First Methodist Houston Westchase again will serve as the
This free family event has become a holiday tradition in event’s title sponsor; Westchase District and Houston West Chamber
Westchase District. It has grown significantly in the eight years since of Commerce have signed on as sponsors as well. Recently,
the first festival, which attracted about 1,000 revelers and offered representatives of the three organizations began meeting to plan this
only a handful of activities. year’s activities. Any business interested in supporting Wonderland in
Last year, about 7,000 people attended Wonderland in Westchase or anyone who would like to volunteer is encouraged to call
Westchase, eager to enjoy a visit with Santa Claus and his reindeer, Gaden at 713-458-4705. WT
hear West Houston school choirs and a concert by children’s singer/
songwriter Leah White and listen to Mrs. Claus read stories. The
event’s long list of activities for people of all ages also included
face painting, a fireworks display and food samples from area
restaurants as well as opportunities to ride on a firetruck, a pony or
a mechanical bull. Shipley Do-Nuts is one of the many businesses
Wonderland in Westchase has become so popular that it now that support Wonderland.
draws people from all over the greater Houston area.
“When we sign up people for the door prize drawing, we ask The event also has solid benefits for the District’s
how they heard about the event and what their zip code is,” Sherry business community.
Fox, Westchase District vice president, communications, explains. “It’s important for our area to have a strong brand that people
“We’ve had families from as far away as Pearland.” want to identify with, and we make that happen in a whole host of
In addition to providing entertainment, Wonderland in ways,” Fox says. “We’re well-known in the real estate world as a good
Wonderland in Westchase will offer a full slate
Westchase has a philanthropic purpose. location for offices and commercial space, but we want to connect of activities, from Santa Claus and school choirs
“Even though Wonderland in Westchase is free, we ask to our neighbors as well, because people who work here often live in to train rides and pony rides.
keep this area vibrant and beautiful,” he explains.
WOODLAKE SQUARE TRANSFORMED…
With a quarter-century of commercial real estate Continued from page 1.
experience, Manchi has just the right background to make that
contribution. He started working for Weingarten Realty Investors in of 2013, and the first residents may move in during the summer of 2013. Wood Partners has enjoyed success previously in Westchase
1993 and held a variety of production and management positions District. The company developed and still owns Alta Royal Oaks, a 282-unit apartment community on Westpark at Wilcrest.
before leaving the company to become a principal at another For AmREIT, turning the apartment development over to another company
commercial real estate firm. means they can now focus on developing the property on the south side of the
Manchi rejoined Weingarten in April 2009 as a regional street. AmREIT owns the former Border’s bookstore, and the adjacent property,
leasing director, responsible for managing a portfolio of more which previously was home to Westchase United Methodist Church.
than 5.5 million square feet of properties throughout Central The church site will be home to a new state-of-the-art LA Fitness.
and South Texas. Earlier this year, he moved into his new position, Lindsey says the 45,000-square-foot facility will be similar to other free-standing
LA Fitness locations. Construction will start later this year. An Oriental rug store
which has involved him in the whole spectrum of commercial real
is operating out of the former Border’s location on a temporary lease, while
estate activities, from remodeling and re-landscaping retail centers
AmREIT seeks the perfect tenant for that building.
to property management, leasing and construction.
“Very soon, you’ll get a feel for how the two projects will work
During Manchi’s first tenure with Weingarten Realty
together,” said Lindsey. “The signage and building design will tie all the
Investors, the company’s two properties in Westchase opened,
and he can look back with satisfaction on all the enhancements
Lindsey says their work at Woodlake fits the company’s profile.
that have been made in the District since then. “We try to design a project with the least disruption on the existing tenants,
“I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years,” he points while improving the property’s overall look and feel. At Woodlake, we widened
out. “The District has done a great job in beautifying the area, the sidewalks and installed more attractive canopies to make it an attractive
cleaning up signage, improving security and making sure pedestrian environment. It’s great for retail, and it’s an attractive place
This driveway provides vehicle and
landscape is maintained.” to explore.”
pedestrian access to the shops on
As a board member, he wants to build on that momentum. The property’s curb appeal was enhanced by $100,000 in landscaping. the north side of Woodlake Square
“I think I can add value to what the District does on a daily basis,” Lindsey says AmREIT is pleased by the results so far and is looking forward to as well as the planned residential
he concludes. WT phase two of its development on this “irreplaceable corner.” WT community.
W E S TC H AS E T O D AY
Westchase Communities Offer Convenience for Families
Assisted-Living Centers Provide Quality Lifestyle for Seniors
amilies face a difficult decision when an aging relative Colonial Oaks, a community devoted solely to seniors with
can no longer live alone. For people in Westchase District, memory loss, can be found about a block away at 11395 Richmond.
having high-quality assisted-living communities in the area Most of its 60 residents have families in Memorial/Westchase area,
makes that choice much easier. Although the District has numerous Community Relations Director Dee Latiolais explains.
child-care facilities and both public and private schools, assisted-living Colonial Oaks’ living accommodations, including a private
centers for older adults help ensure access to a continuum of care. bedroom with half-bath for each resident, are clustered into four
“About 80 percent of our residents have family members who wings, connected by a central living room and dining area. Although
live or work nearby,” Jody Thompson, executive director, Atria Senior meals are served from the facility’s commercial kitchen, this area also
Living, says. “It’s important for people to have a close, convenient, has a kitchen for snacks to help combat weight loss, which often is
quality place for their loved ones to stay.” associated with memory loss.
Located at 11424 Richmond, Atria recently was voted Houston’s Amenities include housekeeping, laundry service and help Birthdays become festive occasions for residents
best assisted-living facility by users of Senior Vantage, a resource for with daily tasks as needed. Colonial Oaks’ 7-acre site features a large of Atria Senior Living, one of Westchase District’s
aging adults. Residents of Atria’s 70 assisted-living apartments receive backyard, several courtyards and sidewalks so residents can enjoy the high-quality assisted-living communities.
housekeeping services, three restaurant-style meals daily and help as outdoors. The facility also offers respite care when space is available.
needed with personal tasks, such as bathing and grooming. Residents The daily agenda offers exercise programs, entertainment and
can schedule transportation to go shopping or run other errands. special events designed for people with varying degrees of memory
A busy events schedule keeps the seniors active and impairment. Music often is included because memory loss does not
entertained. “Arts and crafts, exercise classes, trips, parties — there is affect the part of the brain that processes music.
always something going on here,” Thompson explains. “We believe in lots of hugs and touches,” Latiolais adds. “The
Atria also has 20 apartments for people who cannot function residents respond amazingly to that.”
in the larger assisted-living community because of memory loss. “Working with residents with memory loss requires a great deal
These residents require more one-on-one attention and also a secured of training and commitment, not just to residents but to their families,”
environment to prevent them from leaving the premises. Latiolais says. “They experience tremendous guilt, unfounded, because
“We encourage our staff to treat the residents as if they are they feel they should have been able to care for their loved ones at
family members,” Thompson says. “The staff and residents make this home. But, the worst thing you can do is wait too long.”
a great place to call home. Its warm, inviting, caring atmosphere is Colonial Oaks, 281-305-0140, www.colonialoaks.org Restaurant-style meals provide opportunities for
evident as soon as you walk in the door.” Atria Assisted Living, 281-494-4200, www.atriaseniorliving.com WT residents of Atria to socialize.
Seniors Get First-Class Treatment at La Mancion
New Facility Offers Elegant Alternative to Adult Day Care
private social club for seniors: That’s how Blanca serves four-course gourmet meals. Concierge services also are available
Arbour, marketing director for La Mancion, describes to pick up medications or dry cleaning or to transport members to and
Westchase District’s new adult day activity and from appointments.
wellness center. But, there is also a more serious side to La Mancion: medical
“There is no other place like this in West Houston — or assistance provided on site by a full-time registered nurse as well
anywhere else, for that matter,” Arbour explains. “It’s the only facility as visiting physicians, physical and occupational therapists, speech
of its kind in the country.” pathologists and medical social workers.
For people who work in Westchase District, La Mancion provides “We can provide any kind of health care service our members
peace of mind. They can focus on their jobs, knowing they have a safe, would typically receive at home,” Arbour says. “We also have a five-bed
stimulating alternative to leaving their aging relatives home alone — resting suite for members who are temporary immobile or require some
and lonely — during the day. Seniors who enroll in La Mancion’s membership rest time.”
“We’re conveniently located between the Galleria and upscale program can enjoy a variety of services and In addition to services for seniors, La Mancion provides
amenities in a stylish setting.
communities such as Memorial and Piney Point, whose elderly facilities for corporate meetings, conferences and customer events.
population might find this concept appealing,” Arbour says. “People Its conference room holds up to 60 guests, while its private gathering
can drop their parents off on the way to work and pick them up on the Annual, daily and half-day memberships are available. Members room has space for eight; wireless Internet access, snacks and meals,
way home.” can enjoy an array of amenities and services on weekdays from 9 a.m. projectors, microphones and meeting set-up and clean-up services.
Located at 2620 Tanglewilde, La Mancion was founded by to 5 p.m. Exercise classes ranging from aerobics to zumba help stave La Mancion began registering members in early May. In keeping
Dr. Lillie Taat, who also owns a home health agency in the area. She off the effects of aging on the body, while classes, a computer room, with the facility’s image as an exclusive club, Arbour says she has taken
learned that many of her patients were spending their days at elder- library and guest speakers stimulate the mind. Dominoes, bingo, bridge a low-key but focused approach to marketing. Recently, for example,
care centers or nursing homes, but they yearned for a more upbeat, and activities in a casino-style game room provide opportunities to La Mancion hosted a party for medical professionals within a 10-mile
less institutional environment. Taat carried that concept even further, socialize. radius to acquaint them with the center.
investing in a contemporary, first-class, 15,000-square-foot facility that Members also have access to La Mancion’s hair salon, full- “Many of their patients could benefit from this kind of place,”
caters to affluent clientele. service health spa, theater, business center and restaurant, which Arbour concludes. www.lamancionwellness.com. WT
W E S TC H AS E T O D AY
Bicycle Makes Policeman More Approachable
Officer Combines Pedalling, Patrolling, Public Relations
hen Sgt. Curtis Hampton is patrolling the area as About three years ago, Sgt. Paul George, who worked
a member of Westchase District’s police force, at the same HPD substation, suggested that Hampton join him
it’s not uncommon for drivers to pull up beside on the Westchase District Patrol. Today, the two officers pair
his bicycle and strike up a pleasant conversation. up to patrol the 4.2-square-mile District on their bicycles.
“People here like to see me coming and enjoy talking to me, “Bikes are easier to maneuver in small areas and can
because I’m more approachable on a bike,” he observes. “It’s very go where cars can’t — around apartment complexes and
different from my day job.” across fields, for example,” Hampton explains.
That day job is serving as an officer at the Houston Police The Westchase Patrol plays a pivotal role in keeping
Department (HPD). As a sergeant at HPD’s northeast substation, the Westchase community safe, Hampton says. If crime starts
Hampton has responsibility for supervising 10 officers. He’s also a soaring in a particular area or at a certain time of day, the
jack of all trades, doing everything from taking command at standoffs officers can focus their efforts on reversing that trend. They
until a SWAT team arrives to taking photographs at crime scenes. Part also provide backup support for HPD.
of an elite Special Response Group (SRG), he has undergone training “The police department is short-staffed,” he
as a crowd containment specialist, and he teaches SRG courses for explains. “We can handle the minor issues, like panhandling
fellow officers. In addition, he has training in dealing with people with or trespassing, leaving them free to deal with more
mental health issues. significant issues.”
Becoming a police officer represented a dramatic career However, providing HPD backup gave Hampton his
change for Hampton when he joined the force in 1997. He already had most exhilarating Westchase policing experience: capturing
If crime starts soaring in a particular area or at a certain time of day, the officers can focus their
efforts on reversing that trend.
completed a stint in the Army and was working in financial services members of a Brazilian drug cartel who were stealing cars to
when he realized it just wasn’t the job for him. stash their cache.
“I started thinking about what I really wanted to do with my When he’s not at work, Hampton often trades his
life, and that was to be a policeman,” he recalls. bicycle for another form of two-wheel transportation — a
Hampton was living in El Paso at the time, but he knew motorcycle. He also enjoys fishing and spending time with
he didn’t want to stay there. He headed east, intending to move his family — wife JoVette and children Brianna, 5; Deon,
Patrolling Westchase on a bicycle gives Sgt. Curtis
to Atlanta. 15, and Normetta, 19. He plans to enroll in the University of
Hampton more maneuverability in small spaces and
“On the way, I stopped in Houston to visit an old Army Houston to pursue an MBA degree and hopes to move into a more opportunities to interact with area residents
buddy — and I never left,” he says. management position. WT and employees.
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10100 Richmond Ave.
W E S TC H AS E T O D AY
Tex-Mex Cuisine Attracts Customers to One
of Westchase’s Oldest Restaurants
he Los Tios Restaurant website labels Tex-Mex “a got around that we were consistent in food quality
sacred culinary tradition” — and for good reason. and freshness.”
Fans of this Mexican-influenced American regional As Westchase grew, so did Los Tios’
cuisine have been flocking to the Los Tios location at Westheimer business, so the Garbetts purchased the bicycle shop
and S. Gessner since the days when the dining establishment stood next door, adding 2,000 square feet to the restaurant
on the fringes of Houston’s development. and doubling its bar.
“This is a great spot for us,” says Roberto Ozaeta, operations During the remodeling of that space in 1976,
director for Los Tios’ owner, Adair Family Restaurants. “We’ve been Thomas Garbett died, and Rosemary Garbett became
here 40 years, and our business continues to grow. Two or three the only female restaurant owner in Houston.
generations of people have continued coming to our restaurant, so Signaling her commitment to Westchase District, Los Tios’ central food commissary on Westpark stood on the
we’re part of the community.” in 1980 she opened a central food commissary fringe of West Houston development when it opened here in 1980.
The Westchase restaurant was the second Los Tios developed at Westpark and Westcenter — one of the first
by Rosemary and Thomas Garbett. properties that far out on Westpark, she remembers. doors to taste such specialties as puffy queso and tacos featuring
“With the first one, it was debatable whether we would make In 2000, Garbett sold a controlling interest in Los Tios made-from-scratch, extra-thick and crispy shells. To attract even
it,” Rosemary Garbett recalls. “When it finally caught on after 1½ to the Adair family, who also own Skeeters restaurants, and more business, earlier this year the restaurant started booking
years, we decided to open another one.” she closed the commissary in 2006. The Westchase location bands to play live Latin music on Thursday nights, and it also now
The Garbetts chose the 5,000-square-foot Westheimer site stands out as a flagship of the four-site Los Tios chain, with a offers catering, a special lunch menu, an all-day happy hour and a
because the area was bustling with activity. 280-person capacity. free nacho bar. Its menu went online in June, enabling customers to
“It was a success right away,” Garbett remembers. “Word In addition to its newly renovated main dining area, the place orders for pickup. Visitors to the Los Tios website also can sign
restaurant has two private up online to receive promotion and coupons.
rooms that serve as venues for Committed to being an integral part of the Westchase
Los Tios community, Los Tios offers discounts to employees of
activities ranging from Rotary
Club meetings to rehearsal neighboring businesses.
was the second
restaurant in a dinners to defensive driving “We also work with the community to support fundraisers by
Tex-Mex chain classes. The larger one, which hosting a school or family night and giving back 20 percent of our
founded by the can seat up to 70 people, has a sales,” Ozaeta explains.
projector for business meetings. ‘We’re a family restaurant,” he concludes. “We’ve been
Garbett and his
Customers stream here 40 years, and we would like to be here serving people in West
(second from right). steadily through Los Tios’ Houston for another 40 years.” WT
So You Think You Can’t Dance?
National Dancing Champs Offer Lessons at D’Amico Studio
hoppers at Memorial City Mall one August afternoon people can look in,” D’Amico says. Then they brought in a team of on the dance floor. These activities, along with corporate conferences,
in 2010 received an unexpected treat when about 150 instructors who, like the D’Amicos themselves, have earned national fundraisers and even private parties in the studio’s 8,500-square-foot
people suddenly began doing the West Coast swing to a competitive titles. Celebrity guest instructors such as Corky and Mark main room, provide additional revenue not only for the D’Amicos, but for
catchy Usher tune. The flash mob was a YouTube hit and generated local Ballas from Dancing with the Stars and Benji Schwimmer, winner other tenants in the center as well.
TV and radio coverage. It not only demonstrated the talents of Lisa and of So You Think You Can Dance, periodically present workshops and “When we moved in here, I immediately introduced myself to
Damon D’Amico, who choreographed it, but also promoted the couple’s shows on weekends. the other businesses here,” D’Amico recalls. “I told them what we were
soon-to-open dance studio in the most dramatic way. Weekends, in fact, bring a change of pace from the weekday doing and said we hope to bring new business to the center. They all
D’Amico Dance opened two months later in Westchase District. dance classes. Social events, open to the public for a nominal fee, said they were willing to help.”
They specialize in couples dancing, offering classes in the West Coast typically attract 100 to 150 people for a lesson followed by an evening As a result, the D’Amicos have established synergistic
swing, country/Western, ballroom, Latin, salsa, bachata and Argentine relationships with the center’s other tenants that are benefiting
tango. In addition, they provide lessons for youngsters. them all. Some have provided catering, floral arrangements or other
“We have the largest group of junior dance competitors in the products or services for events at the studio, while others have
country,” Damon D’Amico reports. offered discounts to its students. Quarterly bring-your-own-bottle wine
The D’Amicos had been renting space at several studios in tastings and workshops encourage participants to purchase wine next
Houston for the last 12 years, but they wanted a facility of their own, door at Whole Foods, which then features the most popular selection
and Westchase had a particular appeal. as its wine of the month.
“Richmond and Westheimer are where all the dance action is in “People can watch our dance classes at no charge,” D’Amico
Houston, and we wanted to make dancing lessons available to people concludes, “and sometimes they stop off to Whole Foods first and
on the west side,” D’Amico explains. buy some wine. To be able to chill out and have a glass of wine
The dancing duo leased a 10,000-square-foot space in the Damon D’Amico and wife Lisa (pictured) provide while listening to an instructor teach a group class — that’s a
Market at Westchase, “with 110 feet of windows across the front so professional instruction in many dancing styles. fantastic experience.” WT
W E S TC H AS E T O D AY
ABB Consolidates in Westchase District
Oil and Gas Company Grows its International Presence in Houston
ith office locations throughout the Houston somewhere along Beltway 8. This slice of Beltway 8 seemed to
region, worldwide oil and gas company ABB be a better location, with better visibility of the brand.”
faced a choice some years ago. It could move “Up north, it was not as attractive or prestigious. It was
further north along the Beltway or consolidate in Westchase, not as good of a neighborhood,” he adds.
bringing its five divisions under one roof to better serve its Today, 300 people work in ABB’s office on the West Sam
customers. Westchase won out, and today the company has a Houston Parkway, including the headquarters of the process
significant presence at Westchase Park, the newly constructed automation division. And the company is growing. “We’re hiring
building on the West Sam Houston Tollway just north of Westpark. account managers and project engineers, and we brought global
The move was explained by Scott Spencer, group vice managers here from other offices,” says Spencer. “ABB can
president for ABB’s process automation division. “We made the never be successful globally in oil and gas if we’re not successful
decision several years ago to refocus on our core businesses in Houston.” Scott Spencer says ABB places a lot of
and sell those divisions that didn’t fit that profile.” That meant ABB has five divisions: Power Products, Power Systems, responsibility with its employees and rewards
those who do well.
ABB divested itself of several well-known “brands” that had long Discrete Automation and Motion, Low Voltage Products and
been a part of the ABB family, including Vetco Gray, Lummus and Process Automation. All five divisions are represented at ABB’s
Offshore Systems. Westchase District offices. Spencer says the company is pleased
Unfortunately, that left a perception that ABB was pulling with the new location. “Westchase is a convenient location
out of Houston. Not the case, says Spencer. “We want to grow our where we’re close to our customers.”
presence in the oil and gas sector and raise our brand awareness Spencer estimates that one-third of the company’s
in Houston.” workforce lives in Katy, another third in CyFair, while 10 percent
“Our number one priority when we considered moving was live in The Woodlands. The rest are spread out in Houston and Fort
to get a location where we can showcase our logo — preferably Bend County.
At the same time ABB was contemplating its move in
Houston, it was also considering how to be more active in the
community. That led ABB to be the title sponsor of the Houston
Marathon’s Team Challenge, where corporate teams compete
ABB earned the Houston West Chamber’s Star
against each other in the marathon while raising money for Award in 2011,based on the company’s growth in
a good cause. Spencer, himself a long-distance runner, says west Houston. Gary Marler, vice president, US
40 to 50 ABB employees run in the marathon each year, and Systems for the Process Automation Division,
they’ve raised between $60,000 and $70,000 annually for their accepts the award (second from left).
designated charity, which have included the Houston Food Bank,
Texas Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House. opportunities and under no limitations to see the world. Secondly,
Spencer has worked for ABB for 26 years — the last nine we work in a fun, cutting-edge environment where we have a
in Houston. He cites two reasons when asked why he enjoys direct impact on making improvements to the environment.”
ABB’s Westchase employees were the first working for the company. “It’s the most international company “It’s a successful company, and there’s real satisfaction in
tenants in the building known as Westchase Park. you’ll ever find. Our employees are exposed to different cultural that,” he adds. WT
Westchase Charity Hosts First-Ever Fundraiser
tate Representative Jim Murphy made a quick trip back Representatives, representing District 133. He acknowledged that the challenging than it had been in the previous session in which he served.
home to Houston during the Special Session of the State’s funding shortfall made passing a two-year budget much more “Every line item in the budget has a constituency and we heard from all
Texas Legislature to speak at the inaugural fundraising of them during this session,” he said.
breakfast of the Westchase District Community Fund. Murphy told the audience he was happy to make the overnight
The WDCF was formed in 2010 as the non-profit affiliate trip to Houston to support the Westchase District Community Fund.
of Westchase District. “All money we raise through this and other “This organization will greatly enhance the work of Westchase District,
activities will go to support projects and programs that benefit the and I appreciate the businesses and individuals that have turned out
Westchase area,” said Donna Flowers, chair of the WDCF Board of today to support the Community Fund.”
Directors. “We’re grateful to Representative Murphy for helping us Sponsors included: American InterContinental University, Apache,
launch our fundraising efforts.” Clark Condon Associates, Concierge Asset Management, Courtyard by
The breakfast was scheduled before Governor Rick Perry called Marriott Houston Westchase, Granite Properties, The Goodman Group,
the Special Session. But that serendipitous timing made Murphy an Hilton Houston Westchase, Holiday Inn Houston Westchase, Houston
even more powerful draw. “Everyone wanted to know what issues Community College, Jones & Carter, Means Knaus, Rehak Creative
State Representative Jim Murphy spoke to
were still pending and what legislation had already been signed into Services, Traffic Engineers, Inc., Transwestern, TSC Engineering, Walnut
a full house at the inaugural fundraiser of the
law; the guests asked a lot of great questions,” added Flowers. Westchase District Community Fund. The break- Bend Home Association, West Houston Christian Center, West Houston
Murphy is serving his second term in the Texas House of fast fundraiser was held at Cantina Laredo. Medical Center and Zenith Real Estate. WT
W E S TC H AS E T O D AY
Who’s Who in Westchase
Building a Better Neighborhood
W esley Academy has named Dejon
Banks, a graduate of The Kinkaid School
and Wake Forest University, as Head of School.
CEO of A&C Plastics, Inc. A second sold-out
event featured lunch and a panel discussion by
women executives. Tickets are still available to
work on a unified vision to tackle the area’s
mobility challenges through roadway improve-
ments, trails and mass transportation. The
During the summer, Banks participated in the the Oct. 13 social at BMW West. The events will group will identify projects that meet the needs
Dr. Khowja is
Klingenstein Leadership Academy at Columbia proficient in con- benefit the Women Driving Business Educational of the entire area and then those projects can be
University in New York, an intensive graduate ducting eye exams Scholarship Fund and the Tzu Chi Japan Relief included in H-GAC’s long-range Transportation
in Spanish, Hindi,
program involving study, research, practicum fund to aid tsunami victims. Improvement Plan. “Too often, we’re competing
Urdu and Gujrati.
and mentorship. Banks comes to Wesley for the same set of funds,” said Irma Sanchez,
Academy from Presbyterian School, where
she served most recently as Director of
Admissions and Financial Aid. Wesley
T he National Counseling Center has opened
in the Carillon Center, bringing new mental
health counseling options to Westchase
vice president of projects for Westchase District.
“This will allow us to promote a shared vision for
the area and seek approval for those projects.”
Academy serves children from 6 months District. Led by Emilio Jimenez and Tammy
of age through eighth grade at its campus
on Westpark. More information is available at
Holland, the practice offers a full range of
counseling services and therapy for everything
from anger management and self-esteem issues
T he esplanades on South Gessner, between
Richmond and Meadowglen, are scheduled
to be landscaped this fall, giving a lush new look
to grief counseling and couples counseling. Both Organizers of the Women Driving Business series to Westchase District’s southeastern entrance.
include Jeannie Bollinger, Houston West Chamber of
therapists are Licensed Professional Counselors Commerce; Jo Ann Miller, Wells Fargo; and Connie
“The esplanades on South Gessner are wider
with the State of Texas. They also host support Inman, Clear Channel Radio. and longer than most in our area,” said Irma
groups for adults, couples, families and teens. Sanchez, vice president of projects. “The
Banks is the
Visit www.nationalcounselingcenter.com for
more information. T he Westchase District is participating in
a subregional planning process that will
allow the management districts in west Houston
landscape design is similar to the esplanades
we’ve landscaped elsewhere in the District,
but we’ll push the plant materials closer to the
second head of
school in Wesley’s to adopt shared mobility goals and seek funding edges of the esplanade. Plus we’re introducing
sixteen year history.
for projects that will benefit the entire area. The bioswales.” A “bioswale” is a landscape
D r. Heena Khowja has joined the staff
at Westheimer Vision Associates. She
is a native of Sugar Land and a graduate
M.A., LPC launched
Houston-Galveston Area Council, Energy Corridor
District and Memorial City Management District
are also participating in the group, which will
element designed to maximize the time the
water spends in the swale, thereby reducing
his private practice silt and pollutants in the runoff water. WT
of Houston Baptist University and University after years in
of Houston College of Optometry. She
other area practices.
is a Certified Glaucoma Specialist and
is also certified in Orthokeratology. She
particularly enjoys working with children
and youth. Westheimer Vision is located
W omen Driving Business, a program
launched by the Houston West Chamber
of Commerce, is celebrating its seventh year
at 10260 Westheimer. Drs. Gerry and Albert of networking events designed specifically for
Romano, the founding partners at WVA, women executives and entrepreneurs. More
celebrated their 50th anniversary in practice than 100 women purchased tickets to the entire
in 2008. Visit www.westheimervision.com for series of events and enjoyed breakfast at Royal
more information. Oaks Country Club, featuring Carolyn Faulk, Only half of the Gessner esplanades will be landscaped in 2011. The rest will be part of a phase two project.
Keeping Westchase Beautiful Just Got Easier
On the second Saturday of each month, from
9 am to noon, Westchase District offers a free
and convenient opportunity to recycle.
We’ve partnered with Republic Services to
provide recycling bins at the Carillon Center
So save your aluminum, glass (all colors),
paper, and plastic (types 1-5 and 7 – sorry no
foam products) for the next Westchase District
Community Recycling Day. Drop them off at
Learn more at westchasedistrict.com Your Spirit-Filled Church in West Houston
Service Times: Tune In!
WHCC is on Channel 57 KUBE
Sundays Tuesdays on Sundays at 6:30 am!
9:00 am- Sunday School 7:00 pm- Worship Service
10:30 am- Worship Service
(something for all ages)
City Life. Suburban Living.
713-780-9434 • westchasedistrict.com 11300 Wilcrest Green Dr
Houston, TX 77042
(located 1 Block South of Richmond Ave, Off of Wilcrest) Pastors
® Jack & Mary Jean
w w w.westhoustonchristian. com Pidgeon