Just How Lonely Is It Downtown?

JUST HOW LONELY IS IT DOWNTOWN? Reporter Yang Wang’s weekend survey of forlorn and empty buildings hanging around Houston’s Downtown includes this little tidbit: “The recently released 2010 census results show one out of four buildings in Houston downtown’s two census tracts is vacant, higher than the city’s average vacancy rate of 12 percent.” [Houston Chronicle]

14 Comment

  • I find it VERY hard to believe that 25% of downtown properties are vacant unless they are counting surface parking lots!

  • @doofus, I was just down there for a couple hours today, along Main where all the clubs, bars, and restaurants used to be back in the late 90s-early 00s. A couple of places remain, but there are lots of empty spaces. I saw two empty rundown buildings, one renovated but empty, and a midblock space next to Shay McElroy’s that’s been fixed up but is standing idle. It’s sad.

  • Factoid: All the abandoned downtown buildings still don’t equal the space of one Astrodome.

  • The 90s were downtown’s last gasp. Then they built that excellent train.

  • The clubs and bars of Main Street were encouraged to move by the train construction for sure. They moved along down the road just like the clubs and bars abandoned Richmond Ave, Shepherd Square, and soon Washington Ave.

  • The excellent train wasn’t built on this side of the ocean. Instead, the firm whose nameplate appears on the sets partially funded the PAC which defined the project. Funding is from bonds and whatever cesspool centralized government funnels borrowed grandchildren’s money comes from. On top of that, the machines used to block, dig up, destroy, and cart away the many miles of previously-useful in-town roads were rented from other firms that used imported leased equipment made in countries we grant with liberal trade policies that in a few words merely guarantee the export of high-skilled technical labor and management.

    So … what do we get? We get shaken down by the security scanning us for riding the train free. We get freeloaders jumping on and off the train without any concern for being caught. When driving on the rails we need to drive extra slow to avoid slipping on the rails. There’s no longer any need to drive on Main anyways because most of the stores are now gone.

    Light rail: light on impact studies but heavy on impact.

  • I could care less if some bars and clubs closed downtown. In case you haven’t noticed, that’s the typical life of a club. Most don’t have staying power.

    You know what does have staying power and has either opened or been renovated since the rail line? Parks. Apartment towers. Retail outlets. Office towers. Condo conversions.

    With those things, you also get more tax revenue. Your idiotic anti-rail comments should be harder to defend here than on chron.com, where the average IQ seems to be in single digits.

  • Bombay Pizza Co. being open at night makes it all worthwhile, though.

    Besides, vacant buildings are neat to look at.

  • @doofus, enjoy your night-time train rides?

  • Most of the Main St. clubs were pop-ups designed only for the Super Bowl, with no expectations of staying in the area.

  • Could it be that the occupancy rate is determined based on property that is actually lease-able and the census includes teardowns that are not?

  • Thems should put a skating rink downtown!


  • As a downtown resident for almost 13 years (since Oct 1998), I agree with doofus that the closing of the cheesy Main St clubs is no loss. We do, however, welcome new restaurants and try our best to patronize all the downtown eateries. In addition to Bombay Pizza, Sambuca Jazz Cafe never disappoints; Azuma is consistently good, and we love our faithful friend for comfort food, Chipotle. One of the best places to open in downtown in the past year is Minuti in the Rice Lofts. It has excellent coffee, tea, wine, & beer along with other interesting beverages and food for breakfast, lunch & dinner (breakfast places are very important to locals.) Living downtown offers the best of both worlds: we have the hustle bustle of the city during the work week and it becomes my sanctuary of solitude on weekend mornings. And, yes, Crude Lube, Esq – the night-time train rides are great. The rail is the best way to go to Continental Club, T’afia (and surrounding establishments) as well as the Medical Center or Reliant. Have you parked in the Hermann Professional Bldg (UTPB)lately?!! How about the Rodeo? Take the rail and leave the driving to Metro. Hopefully the vehicle drivers will eventually learn to stop turning left in front of it!

  • does the light rail go to austin?