Foley’s Falls: The Last of the Last Department Store in Downtown Houston

So much for total environmental control, huh? The Foley’s, then Macy’s, at 1110 Main St. is no more, succumbing to a helluva lot of dynamite early Sunday morning. Completed in 1947 and designed by Kenneth Franzheim, the 10-story, 791,000-sq.-ft. building was the last department store Downtown. It’s still not clear what will be going up once the retail rubble is cleared from this block bound by Main, Travis, Dallas, and Lamar, though an employee at Hilcorp — which is connected to 1110 Main Partners, the entity that owns the property — has told Swamplot it’ll be “a regular looking office building tower over 20 stories high.”

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Why not revel, for a moment, in the glorious dust?


Here’s a video of the proceedings from on high . . .

. . . and from the streets:

Oh, and why not one more, with a bit of history tagged on at the beginning:

Images: Christof Spieler (demo); Jon Morris (after demo); Jefferson Noxon (1st video); Tyler Rudick (2nd video); Ken Smith (3rd video)

25 Comment

  • What an exciting announcement, “we’re building an average office building, 20+ stories high, with an average architect, built of average material, with an average contractor, down the street from Hines spectacular new 50+ story high rise and we’re gong to compete for the same companies!”

    As for the dust, Wow! I’d hate to be a window washer, well in reality I guess it’s actually good for the window washing business.

  • Sad to see the old Foley’s go. I spent a lot of time there as a child in the 1950s with my mother shopping. We always had our pictures taken with Santa there as he was the only real Santa. Also loved eating at the cafe in the basement.

  • We need downtown retail NOW.

    We need 2 – 4 anchor, department stores. I am tired of the galleria.

  • Having a park instead would help open up that part of downtown a little more.

    It may even have a Discovery Green effect on surrounding blocks, who knows. It’s a (relatively) up economy – why wouldn’t COH take that chance?

  • I agree, anon22. Nice block-size parks with green space in the middle of downtown would serve the city’s image, surrounding property owners and tenants, office workers, and visitors all very well. Make an area look attractive to be upon and office tenants, retail & shoppers, and workers alike would all desire to be there.

  • This will be a user building so it will not compete with anything. The guy who is building it is a billionaire five times over and could not possibly care less what any of you think.

  • a park? i’m a park lover, but this space is 6 blocks from discovery green.

  • The land is way too valuable to make it into a bum camp (a park). Besides, it’s private property, the city has no say so what goes there anyway.

  • If he’s a billionaire, he’s probably intelligent (if it wasn’t inherited) so he would be a fool not to care what people thought of his project. Is this building going to compete for tenants, etc., I highly doubt this will be his private residence. What I’m saying is that I highly doubt he has the attitude of, “I’ll build what ever I want”, like I said he’s probably wiser than to have that attitude.

  • @ Creole – This ain’t Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average. If we’re going to have modestly sized infill buildings with meh architecture, we might as well have them tucked neatly into the middle where nobody will notice them – as appears to be what’s afoot here. Inside that upended pencil box will be a bunch more people than ever populated Foley’s, except perhaps during the holidays in the Eisenhower administration.

  • Oh and zero chance of a park, wayyyyyy to valuable land for a park..

  • Even if this building is 100 percent occupied by one company, you still must consider if you have to sale it at some point or you downsize or relocate or his heir’s decide to sell it. There is a billion senerios to go along with his alleged billions of dollars. It’s good business to listen to others, to make an informed decision.

  • While I agree “some” retail would be nice, retail to the scale of the Galleria would be a nightmare for those of us who office downtown. I officed for a few years in one of the towers in the Galleria. The traffic of suburban soccer moms in their SUVs with a bunch of screaming kids distracting them and the bands of mall rats made commuting a daily nightmare (much less, getting to your parking garage). Forty-five minutes to get from the Galleria One garage to 610 & Westheimer during holiday season was not unusual. The toy train that currently runs through town creates enough traffic at rush hour and I can only imagine what it will be like when the East-end line opens. I’m all for thoughtful development but the idea of a 4-anchor store mall development gives me a gridlock nightmare.

  • A park would not earn money for the owners of the property. I’m just hoping they build something slightly above average.

    I’d like to thank Metro for getting light rail up & running. I was there before dawn & everything was in order. Well, the boxes that sell tickets & add cash to your card were missing. But they weren’t letting that get in the way of getting people to work. The bus “bridge” that substitutes when rail is out is OK, but rail is better…

  • This building will not be competing against the other office developments being proposed for downtown, because, like Chevron’s, it will be built to suit. Also the developer IS Hines. It also received tax incentives to include retail, so to those who are freaking out, it will have at least a modest amount of retail. It is my understanding Hilcorp Energy will occupy it.

  • There’s a public park right across the street.

  • While I am not one of Macy’s regular customers, they did a smaller more boutique like store in an outdoor plaza shopping center in West Palm Beach. It seemed to have all the basics and was well laid out, bright etc….Perhaps this type of model would work Downtown. When I worked out Foley’s Downtown in the early 90s, Downtown was considered a “C” store in volume and out of the 50 or so stores in the chain at that time, it was in the middle of the pack. If I am not mistaken, it brought in $20-$25 million in annual sales so, obviously, there is a market.
    Just not a behemoth building with high operating costs.

  • @infinite_jim

    Well…you can never have too many parks.

    If COH wants to make an offer to buy private land to turn into a park, is there anything that would be stopping them?

  • The Foley building was not sold to Macy’s then to Hilcorp because people were shopping! THERE IS NOT ENOUGH CONSUMERS DOWNTOWN TO SUPPORT ANY MAJOR RETAIL FACILITY! even if the Galleria bought it! what more proof do you need?


    150,000 office workers downtown on a given weekday. All potential customers.

    Just needs some people with vision to make it happen.

  • Building Seven

  • LineofFire: obviously that’s among many significant questions the commission’s official report offers incredibly unbelievable explanations, merely gloss over, or outright ignore. Of course, the sociological effects of suggesting anything different occurs that day other than the official story and the shrill sheep emerge to bestow all kinds of nice labels upon you. Decades from now, perhaps, the full story comes out. Until then, the flag waving and blissful ignorance make for happy powers-that-be.

  • And 9/11 Trutherism arrives in the Swamplot comments. Never a dull moment in here.

  • @Mike That’s still not enough in addition 150,000 workers we need at least another 150,000 family residence living downtown. The vision has come & gone for 67years now, Main street was once covered with retail but shoppers/families gradually started moving away from the city life to the urban life. Downtown Houston is not a shopping destination but a office building and convention destination. If Magic Johnson can’t turn around Pavilions/Green Street it will be next.

  • Same ole Houston. Let’s tear down a piece of building history to put up something new. This town sucks. No preservation of history. Really a park? No give me the damn foleys building back. Was a monumental piece of downtown history that got thrown away just as many other building have. Screw your progress and here today gone tomorrow world.