The Gravesite of the Quirky PoMo Masterson YWCA to Sprout an 18-Story Office Tower


In case you missed them late last month, here are a few renderings of Park Place at Buffalo Bayou, the 18-story office tower Pinto Realty Partners is putting up on Willia St., atop the rim of the Spotts Park bowl at Memorial Dr. and Waugh Dr., just north of Buffalo Bayou and atop the dust of the demolished Masterson YWCA.



Kirksey Architects is designing the building, which will offer 250,000 sq.-ft- of office space, a ground-floor fitness center (where you might hear the ghosts of a generation of exercisers past), and a Spotts Park-facing 8-story parking garage.


The site has been vacant since 2011, when wrecking crews took down the previous occupant: Taft Architects’ postmodern-regional Masterson YWCA, which had been sitting vacant for 6 years by then. In 2006, the YMCA bought the building from the YWCA for $6.8 million.

Former YWCA Masterson Branch, Taft Architects, 3615 Willia St., Houston

YMCA CEO Clark Baker stated at the time that it was their intention to restore “the building to the award-winning status it once enjoyed.

However, according to an internal YMCA document forwarded to Swamplot in 2011, engineers called in by the YMCA to survey the building discovered “multiple structural deficiencies” too expensive to remedy. And in the 1999 printing of the second edition of the AIA Houston Architectural Guide, Stephen Fox wrote that whatever its aesthetic charms, this was “a cheaply constructed building” wherein “the results of initial economies have begun to show.

The Y sold the scraped lot to Pinto Urban Builders LLC in December 2012.

Renderings: Kirksey Architects; Photo of YWCA: Taft Architects

Willia Look At This

11 Comment

  • Wow, that office will have a great view. Why not residential?

  • The best part will be watching everyone crash their cars trying to make a left turn into the development from Waugh south bound during morning rush hour. If the people whipping along Waugh coming over the bayou don’t get them, someone heading south bound will rear end them.

  • Old School…..that is exactly what I have been thinking. I find it so strange that the city and/or they don’t seem to have a plan to deal with this. If there was a plan how would we know?

  • Duston, a “plan”? That is a 4 letter word in Houston and you will be punished for using it!

  • What a boring building. Lot of thought went into that.

  • So Kirksey decided that the most prominent feature of this building viewed from the park should be the parking garage? Brilliant. Only in Houston.

  • Wow, so construction on the apartments just wrapped up on that street, now it’s back to tearing up stuff, heavy equipment, traffic obstructions. Bummer.

  • “In 2006, the YMCA bought the building from the YWCA for $6.8 million”.

    Several years later, an unnamed former YMCA spokesman had this to say about the deal: “I mean, we gave ourselves a fair deal, and we did save a bundle in bank fees, since the bank’s district manager refused to arrange a wire transfer from one account, to be delivered to the exact same account”. But according to him, the “title fees alone nearly bankrupted [the] organization… you won’t believe what it costs to have some pieces of paper changed from saying “YMCA” to the significantly more difficult “YMCA”.

  • Jon, I agree!!! WTH???

  • Do they have any tenants lined up? Agree that the site layout is terrible. The parking garage should be positioned to block views of the horrific stucco apartment pile across the street instead of facing the park.

  • I’m in Spotts park almost every day, don’t see how they’re going to pile 18 stories of concrete and parking garage on that little hill. There was some kind of engineering company out there a couple of weeks ago taking soil samples or whatnot, they have to realize their building would be at risk of toppling onto the basketball and volleyball courts, possibly all the way to Memorial. Maybe they did and that’s why it’s been an empty lot for 3 years. At least they mow it.