On the heels of the announcement of its North Texas July opening date, Meow Wolf, the arts and entertainment company, held a groundbreaking ceremony at its forthcoming Houston location.
Last year, Meow Wolf announced its two new permanent locations coming to Texas, including a project in Grapevine (a suburb between Dallas and Fort Worth) and Houston. While the North Texas venue, Grapevine Mills, a destination mall, was part of the original announcement, little information about the Houston location had been shared previously.
Meow Wolf is coming to Houston’s Fifth Ward, at 2103 Lyons Avenue, which is located northeast of the city’s downtown. According to the The Deal Company website, Meow Wolf will be an anchor tenant in a mixed-use property that will be home to nearly 120,000-square-feet of entertainment venues, event spaces, restaurants, artists studios and galleries, creative workspaces, and offices. The Deal Company, led by founder Jon Deal, is the development and investment group that has also developed other studio spaces, most famously Winter Street Studios and the Sawyer Yards creative complex. The industrial property on Lyons Avenue is a 6.88-acre lot with multiple buildings, known as the Moncrief Lenoir Buildings, which are a mix of brick, steel, and wood beam warehouses constructed between 1917 and 1968. The property is located directly across the street from Saint Arnold Brewing Company.
At the ground-breaking ceremony, Harrison Guy, Director of Arts & Culture for the Fifth Ward Cultural Arts District, set the tone by discussing the creative history of the area. Mr. Guy remarked: “Groundbreakings are interesting, because we typically think about the new shiny thing that is going to happen… But in Fifth Ward, we like to think about the people that made this possible before today. So…I’m thinking about the people that were first here. I’m thinking about the people that put their blood, sweat, and tears into this community. I’m thinking about Mel Chin and Melvin Edwards. I’m thinking about Archie Bell and the Drells. I’m thinking about Club Matinee. I’m thinking about the Deluxe Theater and the longstanding history and heritage that is creativity in Fifth Ward. So I don’t want us to think that the story starts today, it started a long time ago from a lot of people who I could only imagine are so proud about what’s about to happen here in Fifth Ward.”
Mayor Sylvester Turner stated, “I’m proud to stand here today and announce the City’s partnership with Meow Wolf, and through this public/private partnership, Meow Wolf has committed to renovating and rehabbing this historical 1917 warehouse… It is my expectation that when Houston Meow Wolf opens in 2024… it will bring over 100 new jobs into the community during their first operating year and will hire local trades and companies to help construct this $30 million entertainment experience.”
Jon Deal spoke about the significance of Mayor Turner’s support for Houston’s art community. He shared that days after the Winter Street Studio fire, Mayor Turner reached out and implored Mr. Deal to promise to rebuild the studios. Then, a few months later, Mayor Turner announced that the city was donating $250,000 to the Houston Arts Alliance Emergency Relief Fund to support artists affected by the fire. Mr. Deal also thanked Greg Lewis, a local commercial broker, who had the vision of bringing Meow Wolf to Houston, and Ori Batagower, the New Development & Acquisitions Director at The Deal Company, whose help was instrumental in advocating for the city despite the organization’s initial insistence that it wanted one Texas location in Grapevine.
Houston-based graffiti artist Mario Enrique Figueroa Jr., also known as GONZO247, also spoke at the groundbreaking. He has been named the artist-liaison for Meow Wolf in Houston. Mr. Figueroa noted how street art was a creative outlet for him from a young age, and expressed excitement over the increasing number of large-scale murals coming to the city. To end the ceremony, he invited Mayor Turner, Meow Wolf CEO Jose Tolosa, Mr. Deal, Mr. Guy, Council Member Tarsha Jackson, and other local representatives to spray paint the Meow Wolf logo on a wall of the organization’s future location.