An elevated reader sends a snapshot this morning of an excavator rooting around by 1311 Polk St., where Randall Davis is laying the groundwork for his 20-story tower of actor-themed condominiums named Marlowe. The development’s sales center and 5-sided billboard (formerly a 713-TICKETS.com kiosk) is still in place across Caroline St. from the House-of-Blues-containing GreenStreet development (visible in the top frame, in the bottom right corner) and Dirt Bar (bottom left).
The marketing for the tower (another Davis project to seek funding from the EB-5 invest-your-way-to-citizenship program) appears to be a little less insult-forward these days than was previously the case. The tower’s website now also includes the drone footage collage and Stairway to Heaven remix below, showing off the surrounding downtown area with the would-be tower sketched into place in white lines: CONTINUE READING THIS STORY
Currently underway: the partial disassembly of 1 of the 2 skybridges connecting One and Two Allen Center at the corner of Dallas and Smith streets downtown. The bridge pictured above is expected to survive the planned 3-tower redevelopment — a permit to remodel it was issued on Monday with some other OKs on the work, which includes turning the rubble-filled space to the east into a Smith-St.-facing events lawn and concert space. Renderings previously released by Brookfield suggest that the other skybridge, from which the above photo was taken, won’t be so lucky:
Chronicle reporter Gabrielle Banks snaps a fresh photo of the Spirit of the Confederacy, the well-labeled century-old statue standing around by the lake on the west side of Sam Houston Park (near the split of Allen Pkwy. into Lamar and Walker streets downtown). The statue’s placement was funded in 1908 by Houston’s still-active Robert E. Lee chapter of the national United Daughters of the Confederacy and is inscribed to “all heroes of the South who fought for the principles of states rights.” Despite the statue’s unambiguous Confederate sympathies and nearness to City Hall, the bronze statue has largely flown beneath the radar of the past year’s scrutiny of Houston school and street names.
The management at 717 Louisiana St. has sent out word to tenants that the tunnel segment beneath the vacated downtown Houston Chronicle building is now open again, even though the newspaper’s former headquarters at 801 Texas Ave. are still standing on top of it. Documents filed with the Harris County district clerk’s office show that Hines agreed to hold off on the demo for a while, after Linbeck’s Theater Square group filed a lawsuit to stop them.
From a largely-barren expanse of surface lot west of Toyota Center, a reader sends a few fresh images snapped during a street-level fly-by of the 1930s office building at the corner of Leeland and Caroline streets, where Texas Direct Auto has recently taken up both residence and a new advertising tack. Following in the wake of a previous foray into Downtown real-estate-billboard crossover, the company’s newest mural encompasses 3 of the 4 sides of the building (including the dog in an astronaut suit on the side opposite Leeland). Painting started in January, and a we’re-done-now party was thrown in early April.
As was the case for the company’s red-tagged Main St. doggie-in-the-window signage, the newer mural incorporates some of the structure’s actual windows into the design — this time as a set of questionable-utility solar panel arrays on an artificial astronaut habitat:
Outlined in red is the next addition to University of Houston Downtown’s campus, per last Thursday’s meeting by the UH system’s board of regents. The image above comes from a marketing flier included in the board’s agenda notes (as presented by board member and real estate reality TV star Tilman Fertitta). The 17-acre parcel on the north side of I-10 runs along the Daly St. student parking lot by the Burnett Transit Center light-rail station, and includes several areas west of N. Main St. already in use by UHD as faculty and student parking.
The land, bounded on the southwest by White Oak Bayou, will likely house a new science and engineering building — though it may have to cozy up with some additions to the downtown freeway system still in the planning phase. UHD VP David Bradley tells Nancy Sarnoff that the parts of the tract that may end up inside the expanded right-of-way will hang around as green space until TxDOT’s map lines are firmed up.
This week’s video release from hometown country singer Robert Ellis takes viewers on a forlorn wandering tour of Houston’s downtown and surrounding thoroughfares, sans all of those pesky people and cars. Iconic cameos include the AIA’s future headquarters on the corner of Franklin and Commerce streets, the WALD warehouse sign at Live Oak and Rusk streets, and Bad News Bar on Main St.; the video also includes a hike down a dead-empty I-45 and associated entrance ramps, several frantic light-rail stops, and a dramatic reunion on the pedestrian bridge over Memorial Dr. at Sabine St.
Joining the lunchtime crowd in front of the 1600 Smith St. tower today: the towering inflatable rabbits of Australian artist Amanda Parer. Brookfield Properties, which owns the downtown office tower complex where the rabbits are loitering, is sponsoring the leporine art installation’s 4-stop North American tour of other Brookfield commercial properties. The bunnies spent some time in New York City before getting transplanted downtown for a week; they’ll be hopping off to LA and then Denver after the tour’s Houston leg wraps up this Saturday the 14th.
The installation is called Intrude, an allusion to the rabbit’s time-honored place in modern Australian lore as an ecological disaster. Here are a few more daytime angles on the critters, which are also getting lit during their nights downtown:
Brookfield released a few renderings this morning of the plans to make over One, Two, and Three Allen Centers at the corner of Smith and Dallas streets downtown. The rendering above depicts the new plan for the greenspace between One and Two: to subtract 1 of the 2 second-story skybridges currently running parallel to Smith and add an events venue. The redo plans also include a major street-level change for One Allen Center, depicted above with a 2-story glass lobby running around corner in place of the current largely-bricked-over podium facade.
That tiny neon sign on the left edge of the turn-of-the-decade photo above once marked the location of Don Patron; the quarter-centenarian Tex-Mex lunch spot started to close in February and finished the job in March. The remodel plans swap it out for a higher-end restaurant, which will get some patio space along Smith St:
What led up to the neighborly lawsuit filed last week over the former Houston Chronicle building’s planned demolition? A pair of letters filed with the county clerk’s office as part of the suit sheds a little light on the back-and-forth between the building’s new owners and their new neighbors. Plaintiff Theater Square, a partnership controlled by construction and development firm Linbeck, is developing the downtown block marked SITE in the map above, immediately across Prairie St. from the former Chronicle property (bought last year by Hines entity Block 58 Investors). Theater Square wants to link its own could-be-a-Class-A-contender block into the Downtown tunnel network (traced above in solid black).
The company sued both Hines and Chronicle owner Hearst News last week to stop the demo, claiming that Hearst gave it property rights to build a new tunnel through the newspaper building’s basement (via the route shown in stripes above along Travis St.) and that the demo (as currently intended) interferes with that plan. Theater Square sent a letter to Hines on April 15th citing newsstories about the impending demo and requesting both accessto inspect the basement and assurances that the demolition would be carried out in a way that doesn’t harm certain existing structures that the new tunnel’s already-semi-permitted building plans depend on.
A sign zip-tied onto the fence around the parking lot at 1836 Polk St. is currently announcing an application by FreeRange Concepts to sell mixed drinks at the spot. Up in Dallas, the company operates bar-slash-bowling alley Bowl & Barrel, bar-slash-dogpark Mutts Canine Cantina, restaurant-slash-music-venue The Rustic, and slashless restaurant The General Public. Houston locations of Bowl & Barrel and The General Public are currently under construction in CityCentre.
It’s unclear whether FreeRange has cast the Polk location for a sequel to one of its existing brands, or for something new. The TABC notice is posted on the full-block parking lot bounded by Jackson, Hamilton, and Bell streets just east of 59 and just south of the George R. Brown Convention Center. That block has previously appeared in the convention center’s 2025 Master Plan, as a site of possible future expansion: