07/29/08 10:28am

All hail MainPlace! All hail mighty MainPlace! Your towerishness is so . . . smooth and strong!

Videos of Hines’s new office tower at Main and Walker Downtown and its 10 lower molar-and-bicuspid trees are out. If you can’t hear the John-Williams-for-Real-Estate soundtrack, you’re missing half the fun.

When you’re done munching on popcorn and watching the movie above, be sure to catch the slightly more sober second feature, which includes actual information about the building.

07/10/08 1:12pm

MainPlace, Main and Rusk, Downtown Houston

The new MainPlace website features a bunch of snazzy new and revised rendered views of Hines’s 46-story Downtown office tower. Also included: plans of the building showing 2 street-level retail spaces — big enough maybe for a sushi restaurant plus a small postcard shop for tourists.

Promised to come soon on that website: videos. We hope they’ll play up some of the 1950s-era Japanese horror movie theming going on in a few of the new images.

After the jump: Plans! Sky Gardens! Shiny Glass! Run for your lives!


08/24/07 7:43pm

View of MainPlace, Hines’s Proposed 46-Story LEED Silver Office Building on Main Street in Downtown HoustonIt rises dramatically from the center of Downtown to face the morning sun. And the renderings sure make it look like a sleek, giant pipe wrench, the business end looking out over Houston’s industrial east side. Yep, there’s nothing the head office won’t be able to fix!

It’s MainPlace, a 46-story, one-million-square-foot green spec office tower, planned for most of the block surrounded by Fannin, Rusk, and Walker, at 811 Main.

The developer is the Hines CalPERS Green Fund, established by Hines and the California retirement fund to develop “sustainable” office buildings around the country. The core and shell, they promise, will be given a LEED-Silver rating by the USGBC. Don’t worry too much about all that, though: tenants will presumably be free to decorate their interiors with the usual endangered rainforest hardwoods and petroleum-based finishes.

That’s a five-story atrium up there on the 39th floor, facing a “sky garden.” Enjoy those trees in the rendering while you can; eventually, the engineers will start to think long and hard about hurricanes. More details and lots more zoomy pics, including closeups of that pipe-wrench jaw sky garden, after the jump.


03/31/14 12:30pm

Stowers Building, 820 Fannin St., Downtown Houston

A website entry noted by eagle-eyed HAIF commenter Urbannizer indicates that Starwood Hotels and Resorts plans to convert the Stowers Building on the corner of Fannin and Walker downtown (pictured above) into an Aloft Hotel. Aloft Houston Downtown will open at 820 Fannin St. in June 2016, according to the company’s listing of upcoming Starwood properties. The 10-story former headquarters of the G.A. Stowers Furniture Company was built in 1913 and renovated for office condos in 2005 by Spire Realty. It’s the only building left on the block now dominated by the BG Group Place tower fronting Main St.— the previously neighboring buildings were torn down in 2008.

Photo: Mike Bloom Jr.

Starwood on Fannin
02/27/14 11:00am

Proposed Design for 6 Houston Center Office Tower, on Block Surrounded by Walker, Caroline, Rusk, and San Jacinto Streets, Downtown Houston

Mimicking the pipe-wrench-jaw-like multistory balcony near the top of BG Group Place (seen in blocky form at right in the rendering above), there’ll a tree-toothed notch carved into the eastern edge of the top floors of the just-unveiled design for 6 Houston Center. But this new $250 million spec office tower won’t just be a little more roughly cut than its neighbor — it’ll be a bit shorter, too. The 30-story structure is planned for the block surrounded by Rusk, Walker, Caroline, and San Jacinto streets, directly north of the LyondellBasell Tower at 1 Houston Center, on what’s currently a surface parking lot.


Tree-Lined Sky Views
01/13/14 1:30pm

IT’S DEVELOPMENT CAMPAIGN SEASON ON WASHINGTON AVE Fire Station No. 6, 1702 Washington Ave., HoustonBrand strategy outfit Axiom is applying its “creative communication” skills to a campaign to gain recognition for the company’s rehab of the former Fire Station No. 6: A banner now hangs outside the firm’s compound at 1702 Washington Ave (at right), asking passersby for help procuring wider recognition for the company’s multi-year office conversion project. The Fire Station renovation, along with northeast Houston’s James Berry Elementary School, the Heights’s Don Sanders pet adoption center, Dynamo Stadium, and BG Group’s wrench-shaped downtown skyscraper have been nominated in separate for-profit and nonprofit categories in this year’s local Urban Land Institute awards program, but only a group of 3 judges will pick those winners. Separately, though, they’re all competing against each other for top spot in the new-last-year “people’s choice” category, which you can sway with votes on this website — before January 21st. [ULI] Photo: John Luu/Axiom

08/30/13 10:00am

Provident Realty closed yesterday on the former Texaco Building at 1111 Rusk, catty-corner from BG Group Place, and says it will begin renovations and new construction on this Hnedak Bobo Group-designed residential highrise just as soon as it can get the permits.

Yesterday’s announcement doesn’t specify how high the new highrise will rise, but info that Swamplot published in May suggest that it could stand as tall as 38 stories. Houston Business Journal reports that the project, on the block bound by Fannin, San Jacinto, Capitol, and Rusk, will tap into the tunnels, and there will be 309 units in all, with a 550-car parking garage and 8,000-sq.-ft. of ground-floor retail.


05/29/13 8:30am

Photo of ditch near Addicks Dam: elnina via Swamplot Flickr Pool

04/10/13 10:10am

CITY COUNCIL TO DECIDE WHETHER DOWNTOWN HOTEL REDO WILL RECEIVE FEDERAL DOUGH Houston Politics’ Mike Morris is reporting that city council will vote today to decide whether it will loan Pearl Real Estate up to $7.4 million toward the $81 million renovation and redevelopment of the 22-story slipcovered 1910 Samuel F. Carter building at Rusk and 806 Main St. What does Pearl have in sight? A JW Marriott. (It’d be across the street from BG Group Place.) Last summer, explains Morris, the city applied for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development money that would be passed on to Pearl and ultimately paid back with interest — or that’s the idea, anyway. This kind of deal went off without a hitch in 1998, when the Rice Hotel paid back their $4.8 million right on time. But the city’s been kept waiting before: “In early 2005, it came to light that the Magnolia Hotel (which had gotten $9.5 million in 2002) and the Crowne Plaza (which had gotten $5 million in 2000) had never made a full payment to the city on their loans.” Though by 2012, Morris adds, those loans had been repaid. [Houston Politics; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 806 Main St.: Swamplot inbox

03/19/13 3:00pm

Hines has confirmed that it will be putting up something new — maybe this glow stick of an office building, maybe not — at 609 Main, just north of the former MainPlace, now BG Group Pipe Wrench. Pickard Chilton, says Hines, will design a 41-story, 815,000-sq.-ft. office tower just as soon as an anchor tenant is signed. This view of the rendering released this week seems to look south toward the Hines-owned downtown block bound by Main, Texas, Fannin, and Capitol. Now, half that block is an $8 a day parking lot. If you look closely at the rendering, you’ll see an Apple logo just to the left of that entrance teepee. Whether that will actually be a new Apple store is not confirmed — and anyway, before anything new can come in, Hines will have to tear down what’s already there: The unoccupied Texas Tower, the former Sterling Building, at 608 Fannin:


06/06/11 12:46pm

The streetclothes are already being shed from the recently vacated office building at the corner of Main St. and Rusk downtown where a Fort Worth development and hospitality company is planning its next hotel project. Pearl Real Estate announced plans to gut and renovate the 22-story building at 806 Main St. early last year. And now, a reader reports, permits are posted in the window and the paneling and windows in a single column have been removed.

Underneath the white-marble and brown-glass slipcover — installed about 30 years ago — is a stone, terra cotta, and brick building built about 100 years ago and expanded 10 stories skyward in the 1920s. The building is directly across the street from the brand-new BG Group Place.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

10/26/10 6:13pm

SOME PLANS IN THEIR WRENCH And who thought a building shaped like a pipe wrench wouldn’t attract a natural-gas firm as its lead tenant? Hines announced yesterday that UK-based BG Group will move its Houston offices from the Panhandle Energy Tower where Westheimer hits Alabama in the Galleria to MainPlace, the Pickard Chilton-designed spec building still under construction at 811 Main St. Downtown. The company will take over floors 29 through 34 in the 46-story tower, but may fill up more later. And it’s changing the building’s name — no, not to Pez Tower — but to BG Group Place. KPMG put dibs on the building’s top 4 floors more than 2 years ago. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Skyscraper Page user Johnme

07/15/10 10:57am

HELPING CEOS WITH THAT VISION THING The head of the giant monkey wrench is still under construction Downtown, but already Hines has lowered rents and begun looking for smaller-scale tenants at MainPlace, Nancy Sarnoff reports. And now . . . they’re staging it! “Hines has built out mock offices on three floors so prospective tenants can get a better idea of what their offices may look like. Depending on the audience, the models can make an impression. ‘If you bring over a CEO, it registers with them a little more,’ said Chrissy Wilson, vice president of leasing for Hines.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Skyscraper Page user Johnme

07/02/10 2:01pm

A Swamplot reader who has some familiarity with the terms of the deal has expressed surprise at the 10-year lease the federal government’s General Services Administration recently signed for 132,539 sq. ft. of office space Downtown. The arrangement appears to leave the GSA paying rent on 2 separate Houston office locations for the U.S. Attorney — for 2 years. The U.S. Attorney’s office, located in the office building at 919 Milam since 1994, will move early next year to offices on the 23rd through 27th floors of Wells Fargo Plaza at 1000 Louisiana St. — space formerly occupied by Dynegy, according to a report in Globe St.:

The GSA . . . considered more than 40 potential locations before touring seven buildings and then narrowing it down to four final buildings. Wells Fargo Plaza stood out because of its location, which is two blocks from the federal court building, along with its access to the downtown tunnel system and its 25,000-square-foot floorplates.

The GSA was represented in lease negotiations by the Houston office of Jones Lang LaSalle. Bruce Rutherford is a managing director in the office:

“The building is a short walk to the federal courts, and when it’s really hot or raining, the lawyers can use the tunnel to get there,” Rutherford says, adding that Wells Fargo Plaza is also a “straight shot” by cab if necessary.

But the reasons for the move cited in the article — which include an impending lease expiration, proximity to the federal courthouse, desire for a more efficient use of space as well as enhanced technology and security, and tunnel access — “just don’t add up” for our source, who notes that the Wells Fargo Plaza location is only one block closer to the federal court building at 515 Rusk than the Attorney’s current offices, which also have access to the underground tunnels.


02/08/10 2:21pm

The Houston Business Journal‘s Jennifer Dawson is reporting that a hotel developer out of Fort Worth is purchasing the 22-story office building at 806 Main St. Downtown with plans to gut it, renovate it, and reopen it as a hotel. The building is approximately 100 years old, but its top 10 floors were added in the 1920s. The stone, terra cotta, and brick structure was dressed in a marble-and-glass slipcover about 60 years later. Directly across the street from the tower is the construction site of Hines’s MainPlace development.

The city has designated 806 Main as a landmark. It’s connected to the Downtown tunnel system, but has remained mostly empty in recent years. The last of 40 recent tenants is scheduled to move out this week. Building manager Betty Brown tells Dawson that only the Christian Science Reading Room and Domino’s Pizza on the ground floor will be left — their leases run out in 9 to 12 months.

With the exception of the Embassy Suites in downtown Fort Worth featured prominently on its website, Pearl Real Estate has built or redeveloped mostly suburban-style hotels. The 10-year-old company typically operates its own properties and serves as its own general contractor.

What kind of hotel is Pearl planning underneath this slipcover?