Gabriella Rowe resigns as executive director of Ion tech hub behind Houston ‘innovation district’

Gabriella Rowe has resigned as executive director of the Ion, the technology hub that is building out the old Midtown Sears building as an innovation center, and a new interim head is expected to be named next week.

An Ion spokesperson said the next phases of the project, which involves developing a 16-acre swath into an “innovation district,” will be handled by the Rice Management Co., which is leading the project.

Rowe became executive director of the Ion last year. She had been the chief executive at Station Houston, a startup hub that had worked closely to help develop programming for the Ion.

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Rowe confirmed to the Chronicle that she had resigned, but said she would remain in Houston.

“I am absolutely sticking around but feel compelled to work on that which I believe the city needs most in the times we are in,” she said via text message. She added she had left “to pursue other opportunities.”

The Ion will be the primary tenant at the redesigned Sears building, a 270,000 square-foot renovation of the 1939 department store. It is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2021. Rowe said as recently as last week that the project remains on track.

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