Houston’s Biggest Boosters Planning Their Own Downtown Perch, Offices, Track-Through Parking Garage, Future Hotel

Proposed Greater Houston Partnership Building, Downtown Houston

The 10-story office building announced earlier this week for a site across the street from the George R. Brown Convention Center won’t just house the Greater Houston Partnership, for which the project is being named; it’ll also be home to a swell crowd of quasi-governmental city-boosting organizations, whose members will gladly walk you out onto the 2-story 2,000-sq.-ft. upper terrace at the corner of Rusk and Avenida de las Americas, slap you on the back, and point out all the new buildings and visitors and conventions swarming around Discovery Green.

If it isn’t too late in the afternoon (the deck faces west), a city scout needing a little convincing or glad-handling will have an eye-opening view of Houston to behold: A slice of Houston’s central, quasi-public park with its suggestively undeveloped surface parking lots and the rest of downtown beyond, bookended by the city’s 2 remaining non-acronymed sports facilities, Minute Maid Park and the Toyota Center. Kinda stepping in front of the center portion of that view will be the new Marriott Marquis currently under construction along the combined Walker and McKinney streets on Discovery Green’s eastern flank, but the hotel’s tower portion will be shifted a bit to leave room for a park overlook. In a nod to the marketing world’s recent fashion of mildly gritty cité-vérité, the new office building’s deck won’t be air-conditioned, but the nearby towers should generate a fair amount of breeze, and its height should put it safely above Houston’s 8-story mosquito line.

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Proposed Greater Houston Partnership Building, Downtown Houston

Houston First, which owns the property and is serving as the developer, will also occupy the building, though the top 2 floors will be reserved for the Greater Houston Partnership, the Chronicle‘s David Kaplan reports. The Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Center for Houston’s Future will also have headquarters there. On the east side of the building (and hiding in both published renderings from the building’s designers, WHR Architects), will be a massive 1,900-car parking garage, which will also serve as the garage for Marriott Marquis hotel artfully elided from both drawings (above).

Train tracks for the new East End Line already pass through the parking-garage site, which backs up to the Hwy. 59 overpass. Kaplan notes that when the building is complete, trains curving from Rusk St. to Hamilton will drive through the parking garage. Above the train on Rusk St., a skybridge will connect to the George R. Brown, so visitors walking to and from the garage can pass by the office building and perhaps be peppered with a few more Houston boosts and boasts on their way.

Houston First chairman Ric Campo, who famously eschews ground-floor retail in his own Camden Property Trust developments, gets to tell Kaplan that the bottom floors of both the building and the attached garage will contain some retail space — likely for restaurants, he says. And the foundation for the $76 million project, he says, has been designed to accommodate a future hotel perched somewhere on top.

Renderings: WHR Architects

Someday Near the Park and the George

8 Comment

  • I guess this is better than a parking lot. It’s disappointingly small and exactly what kind of view are you going to get on the 10th floor surrounded by taller buildings. Hey look the edge of the roof at Toyota, the corner edge of Minute Maid, the edge of the roof of the USS George Brown. It’s a kinda cool design, but again not tall at all and you’d have thought they would have had more ambitious plans for this property….Guess not.

  • I had to read this story to find out what the hell a “track-through parking garage” was. Now, I can’t wait to use it in a sentence.

  • “……but the nearby towers should generate a fair amount of breeze, and its height should put it safely above Houston’s 8-story mosquito line.”
    Is this really a rule? Mosquito’s don’t fly above 8 stories? Hmmm.

  • How exactly did they get the land? So far, there has been no disclosure of public funding. Doesn’t add up.

  • So does this mean that the Home Plate Bar & Grill and The B.U.S. will be torn down?

  • It looks like the City of Houston purchased the various lots on the 1800 block of Rusk from various owners back in the the mid 1990′s. See HCAD

  • @Walker, this is on the block south of the BUS.

  • So. . . . . the view from the open area faces the skybridge that will connect the Marriott to the convention center?? Hope there are no power lines blocking the views like there are everywhere else. . .