Adding to Convention Center District Easy as 1-2-3 . . . 4-5-6-7

Downtown has been missing out, RIDA President Ira Mitzner tells Bisnow: “A CVB study found we lost 630,000 room nights from conventions” between 2008 and 2012 because of a “lack of activity” around the George R. Brown Convention Center —  the largest in Texas, says Mitzner, but only the fourth-most booked. Swamplot reported in December that RIDA worked with Morris Architects to develop a 30-story, 1,000-room Marriott Marquis — you might remember the rendering of a Texas-shaped lazy river on the roof. And other developments are coming. Houston First COO Peter McStravick lays them out to Bisnow step by step:

1 is the Marriott Marquis. 2 is owned by HISD and will be a high school for visual and performing arts, and the western half of block 3 may become a limited-service hotel. 4 is Houston First’s tract (1.5 blocks) and 5 is the site of the new [1,800-space parking] garage. 6 will house the Nau Center for Texas Cultural Heritage, and 7 (two blocks) will be the Finger 8-story tower.

Houston First wants that tract to become apartments and retail; the Finger tower of apartments and retail is planned for the same site where the Ben Milam Hotel stood until it went crumbling down in a cloud of glory in early December.

Map: Bisnow

17 Comment

  • When the Nau Center for Texas Cultural Heritage is built on #6 what will happen to the two bars (Home Plate Bar & Grill and The B.U.S.) on Texas between Avenida De Las Americas and Hamilton?

  • They are untouched.

    That center will go in the empty space.

    See on the plot?

    Love, LaTonya

  • There’s quite a bit of activity just on the other (east) side of 59. Unfortunately, I can’t see an out of towner knowing that, or braving the sketchy walk.

  • If Houston and its’ design community and city officials had any sense, we would find a creative and dynamic way to connect these new projects with the east side! Graphics, pedestrian links, etc… anyone?

  • They still need bars, clubs,cafes, restaraunt nearby that are open late…or just plain open…basically some street level retail..the key word is street level..

  • I can’t find a link to it right now. But, I remember there were talks of adding a hotel on the east side of downtown & having that connect to the convention center via a Skybridge. That would work well to connect pedestrians to the other side of town.

  • yep just 1/2 mile north there is tons of activity at the star of hope and fishs n loaves. Let’s see… Reef been robbed 4 times in 3 months, Popeye’s couldnt even make it downtown, Macy’s gone, Exxon gone, bookstore gone, homeless everywhere. Oh, we do have great infrastructure, the greyhound bus stop, metro main station, and now MegaBus stop.

  • Light Rail to the rescue, according to the metro website, the east end and southeast lines will have a stop directly north of the convention center, on Rusk and Avienda De Las Americas.
    That’s probably going to be the safest/easiest way for someone to get to the east end from downtown.
    I was at a show in the convention center, some friends and I decided for some beers at Lucky’s pub, walking under that freeway would be imposing enough, but crossing the street at Chartres would probably not be any fun either, with no proper crosswalk especially for someone who isn’t familiar with the area.

  • This may sound insensitive but if downtown is going to get better, something needs to be done about the transients that seem to be hanging around everywhere. Moving the city and county jails out of downtown would be a big help.

  • @benny- your comments posted here and in other threads concerning the “homeless” in downtown Houston lead me to believe they are a major concern of yours. A vast majority of these people are mentally ill, and in the olden days would have been instutionalized out of sight. Due to a confluence of liberal activists in the ’70’s that thought this was a wrong approach, and conservative legislators in the 2000’s who gutted state spending on mental health, you have large numbers of these people congregating downtown. Since this issue seem to be on your radar screen, I would encourage you to lobby the state legislature now in session to reform the way the mentally ill are dealt with in our fine state.
    San Francisco had a major problem with mentally ill homeless people on their downtown streets a decade ago. The city and state increased funding for public/private programs to address this, and I can tell you from personal experience that the number of people living on the streets in SF has declined dramatically.

  • You feel like downtown is about to turn the corner, but we may be getting ahead of ourselves just a little. It’s like when you take a corner too fast in your car, and then the tires start slipping and you have that really scary moment where you’re on the verge of losing control and wiping out against another car. But then the tires hold on and you’re fine.

  • @ Shady heighster, you are correct, I am bothered by the amounts of homeless downtown. I agree many are mentally ill, but I’d bet the larger portion of downtown wanderers are just strung out on drugs and just looking for something to screw or steal. What to do with these? I will send my congressman an email today, Thanks for the idea. The MegaBus stop is the new landing place for immigrants from Louisiana and they dont like to follow the rules.

  • @ ShadyHeightster

    We were in San Francisco recently and the homeless were everywhere. After reading your post I did a little research and the statistics tell a far different story unless a 3-5% decrease equates to your “dramatic” decline. I would also welcome your analysis on the cost of their “dramatic” decline. You can scribble about the virtues of California Gov’t. but most of the readers on this blog are well educated and realize California is insolvent, thanks for playing.

  • LOL.

    That’s a great list of what downtown has lost. What about what it has added;

    One Park Place (96% leased)
    Phoenicia Market
    Humble Tower Apartments (100% leased)
    Toyota Center
    Minute Maid Park
    Hilton Americas Hotel
    Discovery Green Park
    BG Group Tower
    1000 Main Tower
    717 Texas Tower
    Embassy Suites Hotel
    Renovated Market Square
    Consolidation of Chevron at old Enron
    Christ Church expansion
    Nabisco Plant into lofts
    New courthouses
    METRO Headquarters
    Renovated Central Library
    Sundance Cinemas
    House of Blues
    Lucky Strike
    Burger Guys
    Bombay Pizza Company
    Tellepsen YMCA
    806 Main into a JW Marriott
    Club Quarters Hotel
    Hotel Icon
    Magnolia Hotel
    Light rail
    Main Street Square
    Houston Ballet Center
    Hobby Center for the Performing Arts

    and so much more…

  • What needs to happen to connect Downtown with the East End/EaDo is TxDOT needs to put 59 in a tunnel from just south of 45 up to Commerce Street. Above ground create a mile long linear park. Instead of the elevated freeway discouraging pedestrian activity, a underground freeway below with a fantastic linear park above would draw in visitors in hoards. Who wouldn’t want to be around or live near a mile long urban park jewel? The value added is enough in itself to justify such a project for the betterment of the city.

  • @ ShadyHeightster

    To add on to what crosscreek said, I was in San Francisco about two years ago (and am generally there at least once per year) and the homeless were definitely more of a problem there than in Houston. I certainly didn’t notice a decline. If you have stats to back up your assertion, we’d love to see them.

    Also, the homeless population really expanded dramtically across the U.S. in the ’80s. For those of you that can remember, Reagan was blamed for this. And now, Republicans are being blamed for being stingy and causing the problem.

    But as we all know, Deinstitutionalization is the primary reason why there are so many mentally ill people on the streets today. Right or wrong, regardless of which political party is most to blame, this is the main cause.

  • Thomas is correct, an above ground park would be ideal. Phoenix threw I-10 into a tunnel and built a huge park above it.