By Nancy Sarnoff | 12:42 PM Sep 29, 2020 CDT
Rice Management Co. and the City of Houston are hosting the first of three online community workshops Tuesday to discuss their vision and solicit feedback for the Innovation District, 16 acres in Midtown to be anchored by the Ion, a redevelopment of the former Sears building on Main Street, into an office, coworking, educational and events space.
The Ion, scheduled to open next year, is the first major component of the district, which Rice and city officials said would be the epicenter of an innovation ecosystem where entrepreneurs, corporations and academics will create and collaborate in a vibrant neighborhood to be developed around it.
The first workshop, taking place at 6 p.m. Tues., Sept. 29, will focus on economic opportunities, including workforce development, technical training, entrepreneurial resources and jobs.
Rice Management, which oversees Rice University’s $6.3 billion endowment, owns much of the land in the area and is leading the $100 million Ion project. Ultimately, the district could include new housing, commercial property and public spaces.
Students and activists have been pushing Rice to create such a community benefits agreement where it would promise to establish community-determined benefits such as employment programs or affordable housing.
Input and ideas gathered from the public events will be used to develop such an agreement between Rice Management and the city.
The second and third workshops, scheduled for Oct. 6 and Oct. 8, will focus on preserving and expanding housing affordability in the district, and diversity in hiring and contracting, respectively.