|Photo by Susan Du|
|Miguel Villegas and Tirzo Ponce are looking beyond East Downtown to possibly relocate the Houston Food Park.|
With the recent sale of the former Meridian nightclub - and by extension its parking lot - the Houston Food Park is prepared to pack up and roll out of East Downtown.
In 2013, the abandoned warehouse at 1503 Chartres St. seemed like the perfect place to open the city's first food truck park. The Meridian's last year in business was rife with management disputes, and owner Gary Katz couldn't find anyone to lease the 50,000 square feet property. Foodie partners Tirzo Ponce and Miguel Villegas offered to take the parking lot off his hands.
As trucks clustered outside, Ponce and Villegas cleaned up the Meridian. They rewired the electricity and fixed damaged water pipes, hoping to build an air-conditioned dining area on the first floor. In return for their investment on the building, Katz offered Ponce and Villegas below market-value rent on the parking lot.
So it came as a shock to the food park partners when Katz, who could no longer afford the building, gave it up in a bankruptcy sale. It went up for auction, top bidder Ecclesia church signed a contract to purchase it for $3.75 million, and by September the food park was sitting on some pretty shaky ground. More »