Here’s a First Glimpse of the Actual Design for the 100-Unit Condo Tower Randall Davis Wants To Put at the End of GreenStreet Downtown

Rendering of the Marlowe, Proposed Condo Tower at 1211 Caroline St., Downtown HoustonYesterday the Downtown Management District approved funding under the city’s downtown living initiative for Randall Davis’s planned downtown condo tower. But before Swamplot could receive any additional entries in the impromptu design competition for the project initiated by a reader, the developer appears to have gone ahead and dropped a view of his own proposal. Here, in all it’s blanc-et-noir-ish splendor, is an actual rendering of the Marlowe as its developer intends it. The 100-unit building is shown hovering over a Photoshop-white blanket atop an aerial map of the block bounded by Polk, Caroline, Austin, and Dallas streets, across the street from the House of Blues at the eastern end of GreenStreet, the renamed Houston Pavilions.


The condo highrise at 1211 Caroline St., developed by Davis with partner Roberto Contreras, is meant to contain 100 residential units; the rendering shows them occupying the top 12 floors of what appears to be an 18-or-so-story structure. Below them, a parking garage has been gathered into the building’s midsection, though it’s masked by some sort of striped screen bearing a slight resemblance to a giant UPC symbol. To meet the terms of the tax reimbursements granted by the district under the city’s authority, the building will be likely include some sort of retail space on its ground floor, which will be adjacent to the Dirt Bar.

Davis appears to be targeting a 2017 opening date for the project.

Rendering: Downtown Management District

The Marlowe

32 Comment

  • I live downtown and when I heard Randall Davis was building a new building in downtown I got excited. I thought we would get a great piece of architecture and that I would move up into a nicer place. This rendering really disappoints me. It looks horrendous and like the Exxon building down the street

  • Re The Marlowe – OK I’ll be the first to say it, “Needs gargoyles”

  • I think we all expected something ostentatious and garish. Not so. Another surface parking lot bites the dust!

  • So, this comes with 100 more investor visas for the dubious Latin American businessman on the go.

  • The Downtown Management District is in for a rude awakening if it thinks that great numbers of people will move downtown without serious retail. Davis’ proposed development is quite nice, but would be fabulous with a Macy’s, Whole Foods, Bloomingdale’s or Nordstrom at its base or on subsequent blocks. The Downtown Management District is fooling itself if it thinks the world doesn’t see the glaring absence of serious retail in downtown Houston that is expected of a major CBD like Houston’s.

    Sure, the downtown building boom is great. But with all the development going on downtown, it has no significant retail. No Whole Foods, Macy’s, Nordstrom, luxury shops…nothing.
    With all the downtown building action, especially residential, where are all these people going to shop?

    No significant downtown retail is “the elephant in the room” in downtown Houston. If city leaders ever figure this out and develop world class retail downtown, the downtown Houston boom would shift into overdrive. Downtown Houston leaders seem to be thinking like people from the 1950’s…to bad for Houston.

    GreenStreet and the Shops at Houston Center are nice (if you want a t-shirt/souvenir while on convention), but add a Macy’s, Whole Foods, Nordstrom and some luxury shops and downtown Houston would have world class retail…something it desperately needs.

    With pen and paper, the Downtown Management District should go to downtown San Francisco/Union Square, NYC downtown/midtown, or downtown Chicago/Michigan Avenue…and take notes. Until then, downtown Houston is a big office park, masquerading as a big city.

  • green street? dirt bar? What is this, a hipsters Eco-paradise? Do we need a Coolio rap ‘song’ to talk about walking through the valley of death a taking a look at their lives: Unemployed.

  • Hey, Honest Truth.

    Do you think downtown Houston could use a Macy’s, Whole Foods or Nordstrom? *eye roll*

  • Considering that almost everyone in Houston drives to the grocery store/mall/[insert retail destination here], I seriously doubt lack of retail downtown will keep people away. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be a nice addition, only that I doubt it is a huge consideration to the people who can afford the rents/prices these units will be asking.

  • @Shawn
    Oh my God yes, a thousand times yes. And a Bloomingdale’s…now how about that.

  • I think someone used cut and paste.

    “Macy’s, Whole Foods or Nordstrom”


  • To get the tax rebate, they have to try really really really hard to have ground floor retail. Maybe one of these handout recipients will try really really really hard to put in a Whole Foods, Macy’s or Nordstroms.

  • First off there are several new residential developments going in CBD and the ones that are there are doing well. Second I have a relative that shares a name with this project and knowing how crappily built Randall Davis projects are (he will probably sue me like he counter sued the people that bought at St Germain when they figured out that his projects are glitz covering substandard construction) it bothers me that she will forever be associated with crap construction and lawsuits. There is a reason why this legend in his own mind has to go out of the country to get financing. I just cannot believe that there are people that can afford to live in his projects that are dumb enough not to do due diligence on his track record.

  • It is also kind of funny that the retail / office project that houses NRG would call themselves Green Street.

  • Downtown needs an HEB, and a lot of cops on bikes and horseback, if it is going to develop residential (not counting the homeless) density. Right now it’s not a place you’d want to jog or walk the dog at night, if you’re someone with the means to live in a high rise. Just walking from the MetroRail to the Rockets-Spurs game last week meant running a gauntlet of panhandlers.

  • I love the assertion that the people at Downtown District are not aware of what other cities offer in their CBD. As if all it takes is to make some notes in a notepad and all of a sudden Bloomingdales will be knocking down the door to open where others have failed miserably. I know this is hard for people to understand, but while Bob Eury is a smart and nice man he is not a miracle worker that can get people to throw money into his management district for horrible ideas.

  • @Honest Truth: all the Downtown Management District does is sit around all day and try to come up with plans for more retail downtown. They decided to try to put a chicken downtown (more residential via urban living initiative) to see whether they would get an egg out of it. I do agree that a Whole Foods would do a lot for getting people to live downtown, but a major department store or a bunch of high end retailers might not really make much of a difference. Most everyone living downtown will have a car and not have a problem driving out to the big shopping destinations in town. Being able to walk to good restaurants, bars, grocery stores and recreational activities will be more important. Downtown is doing pretty good on most of those fronts and will only improve as many of the new apartment/condo towers are supposed to have space for ground floor retail.

  • If this is indeed what Davis plans to build it’s not bad. I really don’t care one way or the other whether he builds this building, what I care about is the continued developer welfare doled out by the COH like bottled water during Ike. Davis would have built reguardless, the incentives in this hot market and economy just are not necessary. The Tea Party wheezes about waylfare, then is silent when taxpayer money is siphoned to these developers like an ever flowing natural spring. Add to that the fact most of these developers treat Houston like an open sewer and you get a less than pretty picture.

  • Guess what?…MacNordromDalesCo isn’t interested in coming downtown if their isn’t more residential density.

    I’m not sure why that is such a tough concept.

  • @Houstonia
    I think you’re right. The dire need for significant retail in downtown Houston can’t be stated enough.

  • This is great for downtown! Anyone who knows anything about development knows that the residential properties have to come first! There’s only I think 3,000 people that live in downtown. That number will be at 10,000 by 2020 I bet. THEN HEB will think about coming downtown. I live downtown and love it. Yes everyone still has a car but we just don’t use it as much.

  • @Dave Swank
    Who failed miserably, and what horrible ideas?

  • Mr. Ruth, you heard that Randall Davis was building a new building in downtown and your first thought was great architecture? Have you not seen his other buildings? His buildings are to great architecture that Juicy Couture is to great fashion.

  • I can assure you lack of retail is not scaring away residents as much as what polling/surveys and such would say. most all of houston’s current growth is in the distant suburbs where folks deal with much longer commutes to the local grocery stores, shopping and schools than what downtown residents could dream up. you could say the targeted yuppies for downtown residential have higher demands than these cheapskates in the burbs, but i doubt it. like most wealthy folks they probably do the vast majority of their shopping online and would be perfectly content with a local grocery delivery option. if lack of retail is really an issue, then downtown residential would just be priced to compensate. however, there’s probably a floor in how low you can go due to the high office space demand (much greater than residential at least) that would prevent serious discounting here. at what point does houston start shooting itself in the foot to incentivize residential/commercial construction when it could reap bigger rewards with just more office space? why is residential downtown such a priority when downtown itself is still surrounded by a lot of dead space? why not keeping incentivizing more office space to be built downtown which would still just help increase demand further in the surrounding areas and serve the same purpose?

  • The people need to come first before bigger retail moves in.
    With development spilling into the northern third ward and with many thousands of units that will become available downtown, something should give. The grocery store might opt for mid town (another option besides Randalls). A department store downtown would be nice; Foleys was great for a lunchtime spending spree. And with residents in downtown, midtown piling up, that kind of store could generate more traffic on the weekends, evenings.

  • @HonestTruth. The Truth is that Macy’s closed downtown because that store had not shown a profit in years. When and if Bloomingdale’s re-enters the Texas Market, the last place they’ll build is downtown. The only thing you may eventuality get is a small specialty HEB, and no time soon. Yes, the vagrancy issue ruins downtown, id never live down there. I walk my dog at 1am and think nothing of it, try that downtown.

  • I’m almost disappointed by how unoffensive this rendering is. Boring, but not nearly as ugly as I expected.

  • @Shannon
    The Honest Truth is the downtown Macy’s/Foley’s died a long/slow death and eventually met the wrecking-ball because, during 70’s/80’s, all the significant retailers…Palais Royal, Neiman Marcus, Battlestein’s, Sakowitz, etc, abandoned downtown for the Galleria and Northwest Mall. Without these other anchors, the world class comprehensive retail experience downtown died, and Macy’s/Foley’s was left to die alone.

    Bloomingdale’s had an opportunity to go to the Galleria in 2003, but hesitated on returning to Texas, and Nordstrom stole the show with a fabulous flagship. So if they decide to try again, the Galleria is out because the Galleria is now landlocked, indefinitely, due to an uncooperative neighboring property owner (a church) that has held out for over 2 decades…which is why Simon is having to redevelop the Galleria in order to expand, and do so without more land. Nordstrom got the last anchor space at the Galleria.

    It would have to be the Galleria-area for Bloomingdale’s, maybe partnering with Dillard’s and developers to redevelop that dreadful store and lot, which has enough space for a new Dillard’s, a Bloomingdale’s, a tower and a hotel…or maybe partner with Target and it’s huge lot behind ROD, to remake that property with a Bloomingdale’s, Target’s smaller urban concept store, a tower and a hotel. Or maybe configure themselves into the BLVD Place or Uptown Park developments. That’s as good as it gets for any Bloomingdale’s Galleria dreams.

    And they would certainly want to debut here with a flagship, and downtown and Memorial City are the only other districts in Houston that could sustain and support a Bloomingdale’s flagship. Which is why downtown is so attractive and ripe for all levels of retail, as downtown has everything the Galleria/Uptown has, except world class retail. After that, they could open at The Woodlands and Baybrook, the only 2 suburban Houston centers that are Bloomingdale’s-worthy and feasible.

    This is not the Houston or downtown of yester-year or last century. It’s a new Houston…more prominent, eons richer, twice as large as then, much more globally powerful/influential, and booming, especially downtown. For Houston retail opportunities/potential, downtown is the new Galleria…a retail gold-mine is this new Houston, waiting to happen. The retailers/developers who finally realize this will make retail/development history…the likes of which has not seen since the Houston Galleria.

  • If you want urban core residential density, you need to make the downtown safely– no, pleasantly– walkable.

  • Joel get a grip and read more.. the five minutes it took me to get to the grocery store was such a LONG commute from my suburb, it’s such a horrible experience not to be able to walk to it.

  • Downtown is the most patrolled and safest part of Houston when you consider the rate of crime relative to the size of its daytime population. Even at night, its a fairly safe area. I can’t say the same thing for Midtown, Montrose, or other areas nearby that are nevertheless already considered hip, trendy, desirable, and safe within reason. Aggressive beggars make people very uncomfortable, but there again I’d say that Midtown takes the prize.

    How can the Downtown authorities mitigate for their crappy reputation? Well first of all, put more normal people on the streets after dark. How? Do exactly what they’re already doing. Expand the residential base. Being around other people like themselves is what makes people feel comfortable.

  • can’t someone stop Randall Davis He is everywhere. Not good!

  • The reason that I have lived in downtown Houston for the past 14 years is to reduce my time in Houston traffic. I obviously have a car (duh) but I would prefer to walk or bike to a grocery/department store. The rundown, dirty, grossly understocked downtown Macy’s store is not a good argument against expanding retail. MORE RETAIL PLEASE!