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Energy innovator Archaea finds a new home at Houston’s M-K-T

John Bleasby
Energy innovator Archaea finds a new home at Houston’s M-K-T
MICHAEL HSU OFFICE OF ARCHITECTURE — Archaea Energy will formally consolidate its headquarters this fall by moving to a 40,000-square-foot space at M-K-T, a mixed-use development project in the fast-changing Heights district of Houston, Texas.

Clean energy company Archaea Energy will formally consolidate its headquarters this fall by moving from the Pittsburgh area to a 40,000-square-foot space at M-K-T, a mixed-use development project in the fast-changing Heights district of Houston.

M-K-T is a partnership between Triten Real Estate and Radom Capital. The project, spanning 12 acres on North Shepherd Drive at the gateway to The Heights, is a former industrial campus. It has been repurposed as a creative retail, dining and office destination and began signing tenants in 2019.

Triten describes 200,000 square feet of repurposed industrial buildings as “hip” and “adaptive.” In total, M-K-T covers the entire northeast intersection of North Shepherd and 6th Street through to 7th Street, including 1,000 feet of frontage along a 4.7 mile hike-and-bike trail. Office space has been expanded to 120,000, combined with 100,000 square feet of what Triten calls “first-to-market merchants, chef-driven dining options and studio fitness concepts.”

The project features a 2,000-foot urban boardwalk and over four acres of expansive green spaces, which will be programmed for events year-round.

Triten Real Estate (TREP) is a subsidiary of the Triten Corporation, an investment holding company with operating subsidiaries in energy, media, real estate and consumer goods. TREP was founded in 2011 with offices in both Dallas and Houston. It manages holdings representing over $1 billion in gross asset value, three million square feet of property and over 200 tenants. Its partner in M-K-T, Houston-based Radom Capital, focuses on ground-up, value added and repositioned properties that can be molded into retail, entertainment, dining and office environments.

M-K-T earned even more recent attention in April 2022 when the development, designed by the Michael Hsu Office of Architecture and Method Architecture LLC, was named winner of the Houston Business Journal Landmark Award for mixed use projects.

Archaea’s relocation makes the company the largest single tenant at M-K-T, occupying one-third of the available office space. The company expects to have name signage on building five of the project once it moves from its current leased space in the River Oaks area of Houston.

Once settled formally into its new home, leaving only a representative presence in Detroit and Pittsburgh, Archaea intends to focus most of its future hiring in Houston.

Megan Light, spokeswoman for Archaea told the Houston Chronicle that M-K-T “is a really modern, compelling space.”

Addressing the growing trend towards remote work over the past two years, Light says the company had been seeking an office environment where people would want to work in-person more frequently. It is hoped employees will also be drawn by M-K-T’s amenities such as parks, restaurants, lounge areas, and wellness and fitness spaces.

There has been a continuous wave of corporate expansion and head-office relocation experienced by Texas. Tesla Motors’ arrival and Samsung’s new $17 billion semi-conductor plant, both announced in 2021, have been major coups for the state over the past two years.

Archaea is a different type of innovator, a major player in the transformation of energy use across North America. The company describes itself as one of the largest renewable natural gas (RNG) producers in the U.S., with expertise gained from developing, constructing and operating 28 RNG facilities across the country that capture waste emissions and convert them into low carbon fuel. Archaea claims its technology can reduce local air emissions at landfills by up to 90 per cent.

Archaea Energy Inc. went public last year after merging with Detroit-based Aria Energy. In late January 2022, it announced it was expanding its commercial partnership in Canada with a proposed new agreement with FortisBC Energy Inc., the second such long-term commercial agreement between the two companies.

Attracting leading energy transformers like Archaea fits into Houston’s business development strategy. In June 2021, the city released its Greater Houston Partnership Energy Transition Strategy as part of the Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI). One of HETI’s objectives is to attract and support companies and start-ups that are growing “new energy” industries, and those focused on breakthroughs in advanced materials, energy efficiency and geothermal energy.

“Archaea’s decision to move their corporate headquarters to Houston is a testament to our region’s position leading the energy transition,” said Susan Davenport, chief economic development officer at the Greater Houston Partnership. “Houston has been at the center of innovation for over a century with a rich history in the energy industry. We thank Archaea for their investment in the Houston community and welcome their innovation to our region.”

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