Midway’s Intentional Design Draws Eyes to Houston and Beyond

Midway's Executive Vice President shares the design strategy behind your favorite properties.

Andrew Paul

April 2023

David Hightower knows the level of your interest in Midway properties. Literally.

“Most people don’t really care a whole lot about what’s going on beyond 20 feet above them,” the Executive Vice President with nearly 45 years in the industry confides. “They’re more interested in the space they occupy.”

That sense and respect of space is what makes Midway’s approach to mixed-use properties unique. Be it CITYCENTRE, Century Square, GreenStreet, or any of their upcoming projects, Hightower and his colleagues work to create unique, inviting places for Texans to live, work, shop, relax, and most importantly, enjoy.

“It’s the spaces people occupy,” stresses Hightower. “We want to make that an enjoyable and inviting experience. A pretty experience.”

Accomplishing this, however, requires far more consideration than the kinds of decorative flowers and plants that dot Midway’s thoroughfares—although they certainly have those. Hightower explains that he and the company's many stakeholders, “spend a great deal of time looking at the environment in which a project is situated,” he says.

Take, for example, Houston’s East River development—Midway’s upcoming, 150-square-acre mixed-use destination scheduled for completion later this year. Located in one of the oldest working class regions of the city, Hightower explains East River will pay homage to that history, taking into account the “gritty, industrial flavor” of what was, at one time, the upper end of Houston’s original shipping channel.

That history—generations of multicultural, blue collar families living and working together—will be reflected in East River’s property. And being equivalent to 65 blocks of downtown Houston real estate ensures there is plenty of space to do so.

“We want a new, urban community that is open and inviting. We want all our surrounding neighbors to come and enjoy being here,” Hightower says. “We’re not going to build this little walled city in the area. We’re going to open it up and honor the old city street grid pattern.” He goes on to explain that combining both an area’s history and modernity comes naturally to Midway. “It’s a passion, and it’s not something that somebody is forcing us to do.”

That said, the business is not without its challenges. One of Hightower’s roles at the company involves managing all the different design and architecture teams, coordinating and collaborating to ensure an optimal final design that blends workspaces, homes, recreation, and retail opportunities. “There’s a lot of coordination, a lot of communication, between design teams to ensure there’s a seamless transition from one space to the other,” he says.

Hightower likens the role to being the conductor of one large orchestra composed of individual, complementary sections of musicians. “It doesn’t always happen,” he says with a laugh. “Occasionally someone drops their music and they get messed up. But that’s just part of what we do.”

Looking forward, Hightower is excited at the prospects ahead for the entire East River Midway team, including realizing an idea over six years in the making. In 2017, Hightower and his associates almost landed the opportunity to redevelop Houston’s historic ConocoPhillips building complex, but fell short. Last year, however, the chance reappeared, and Midway wasted no time in leaping to action. Soon, plans will be underway to transform the space into a new mixed-use property with untold possibilities, all while maintaining the historic integrity of the space itself.

“That’s the kind of thing we look for today. We’re not cookiecutter builders,” says Hightower. “We truly look for unique opportunities that maybe a lot of people say they don’t have time to mess with it.”

In the end, Hightower explains, Midway is always about our relation to spaces, and what they can mean for our lives. “It all comes back to the people, and creating a really remarkable place that they want to come back to again and again,” he says. “Or they want to live in!