The Mixed-Use Towers That May Rise from the Ashes of Allen Parkway’s Former Waste Incinerator Site

Rendering of Tianqing Group/DC Partners Allen Pwky. Mixed Use Site, Allen Pkwy. at Gillette St., Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019

A look at what could be headed for the rest of that 10.5-acre Gillette St. former city park-slash-brownfield property comes from Tianqing Group, the Chinese firm involved with DC Partners’ recently announced mixed-use development at the site (to be funded via the EB-5 investment-for-greencards program). The northern 6 acres of the property (which at various points in its storied history has housed San Felipe Park, a SWAT substation, and the Gillette St. garbage incinerator) were sold to a then-unnamed investor last year, and DC Partners snagged the land in May.

The view above, displayed on Tianqing’s description page for the project, shows 3 highrises and 2 midrises in place at the edge of Fourth Ward, with the Downtown skyline visible in the distance to the right. Another of the renderings includes slightly clipped logo marks from both DC Partners and architecture firm Gensler; that rendering (below) provides a closer look at the towers from the west, as well as some green rooftop terraces:


Rendering of Tianqing Group/DC Partners Allen Pwky. Mixed Use Site, Allen Pkwy. at Gillette St., Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019

The design above roughly matches the one shown in a recent article from the China Daily News describing the project (spotted over on HAIF yesterday). Nancy Sarnoff reported in June that retail, residential units, a luxury hotel, and an office tower were on the docket for the space. Here’s another peek:

Rendering of Tianqing Group/DC Partners Allen Pwky. Mixed Use Site, Allen Pkwy. at Gillette St., Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019

A less detailed rendering included on the website (whose design details don’t quite match the sharper images above, but which shows kinda similar towers in roughly the same proportion and placement) puts the project in place alongside Buffalo Bayou Park, next to the US Federal Reserve Bank branch across Gillette:

Rendering of Tianqing Group/DC Partners Allen Pwky. Mixed Use Site, Allen Pkwy. at Gillette St., Fourth Ward, Houston, 77019

Images: Gensler via Tianqing Group

West of Downtown

25 Comment

  • This is awesome, and will be a catalyst that will cause mid- and high-rise towers to go up all along Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive from Downtown Houston to the entrance to River Oaks; especially with the street improvements along Allen Parkway, and the transformation of Buffalo Bayou Park.

  • Looks great! It may help to increase the value of my home when I am ready to sell as I live a mile away. However, it wonder who will move considering the vacancy rates in the area. ??

  • I am just so tired of these million dollar developments in the same affluent(mostly white) areas, while we can still have 5th Ward, 3rd Ward, Gulfton, Alief, Acres Homes, Sunnyside, Southpark, Trinity Gardens, Second Ward, Manchester & Hiram Clarke be in prime locations but get zero development dollars. These areas are all mostly BLACK & HISPANIC! Why doesn’t swamplot ever report on the EXTREME DISPARITIES in Houston housing and economy? i know this is a real estate blog but you guys talk about everything from mattresses to trees to trains, so do some truth reports because i feel like every time i’m on swamplot, only 5% are real projects in communities of color. Houston is diverse but we still succumb to the same disparities between BLACKS and other pocs vs whites. look at the housing section on or on The Atlantic they speak on Houston several times and that would be great discussion for your BLOG, which is where the discussion is supposed to be.

  • you guys also managed to mention everything that was on that blot and abuts that plot except APV. that is a huge neighbor, and i’m quite sure it will have absolutely no connection. maybe the developer will take a good approach and solicit residents next door for service positions and at least have a connecting path in between the developments.

  • Adoile, this is mostly a community-driven site. By all means please submit info as I would love to read about more projects like what you are referencing.

  • @Adoile Turner III, you’re implying there’s some underlying racism on behalf of developers. I assure you if it made financial sense, developers would build on top of a superfund site in the middle of a gang turf war, it just doesn’t. If you want to blame anything, blame mathematics and finance.

  • to Adoile Turner III,

    Swamplot does talk about all those run down neighborhoods WHEN there is activity there …. see the Minel artist studios, the “Emancipation” area , Metro Rail and the Palm Center centers as examples). The truth is very little happens in those areas you name besides city sponsored demos of abandoned properties and brownfields. Why would a developer risk millions on an area where there is a significant risk on their return?
    In time those areas will be redeveloped, but then I imagine then you will be complaining that the residents will no longer be able to afford to live there.

  • Swamplot needs more readers/commenters who have the concerns you have, Adoile.
    I am interested in the story about this (potential) project because it will have a huge impact on the area. I’m in awe of the money required to realize it. I’m concerned with the future of multi-family in Houston. I work for a multi-family subcontractor so my livelihood is involved…
    Am I excited for tenants who want to spend $1800 per month for 900 square feet of living space with a window on one wall? Nope. Will I want to drive to Buffalo Bayou after thousands of additional cars are on the roads in that area? Nope.
    I am a white person with all the privileges associated with that but my own thinking makes me a minority in the world of Houston Big Development. A minority ‘out there’ will likely be a minority ’in here’ too, but please keep on being here and commenting!

  • @ Adoile: I can’t dispute that there is underlying racism which persists throughout our society. I can’t dispute that this is one of the factors which determines whether school districts are perceived as qualitatively “good” or “bad”; and that qualitative perception certainly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy whether or not it was in any way valid. I can certainly assert strong evidence that developers respond to consumer demand, wherever it exists. I can assert strong evidence that both investors as well as individual property owners attempt to ascertain general trends in terms of consumer demand and stay one step ahead; and this should predict a sort of “white flight” phenomenon. Furthermore, the pace of development in spots like New Caney and Porter suggests that the pattern is not merely class-based, that poor white people are not as strong a disamenity as poor black people. For these reasons and others, I can’t dispute that racism and development patterns are linked.
    Furthermore, its very clear that there exist profound demographic differences in the people who complain to local governments (or even know how to), who have money, and who are connected. It is unsurprising, then, that some neighborhoods get overlooked. (But this is also true within the black community. Wealthy black families tend also to chase “good schools”, whether in Woodforest or in Katy. Of those who remain in the city, well…the Greater Third Ward — excluding Sunnyside — has historically drawn more attention from the government and non-profit sectors by comparison with Greater Fifth Ward. Its not hard to infer why that is.)
    The problem is that both the real estate industry and the media tend to reflect these patterns about our society. In doing so, yes, they reinforce the problems. However, for some individual business (especially a small business) to intentionally become a malfunctioning cog in our society’s machine is to beg to be replaced and thrown away. I also get peeved sometimes at what they choose to report, for exampl when they get on some kick of reporting about small restaurants in the Heights or about some spree of tree-cutting, but on the other hand I find it difficult to blame Swamplot for reporting the news that is known to them as a consequence of the people who are their audience. I may not be interested in these tangential topics, however I am interested in knowing that they are deeply popular. Knowledge of all kinds is good.
    Now…all that being said, I am unsure that this is a “real” project. The H1-B visa is highly competitive now and few of the projects that focus on them seem to be getting built. Look at Regent Square, also on Allen Parkway, which is certainly a “real” project, and consider their slow rate of progress over the course of an entire boom cycle.

  • I’d be keen to see that more fully traced out, how trees are responsible for social disparities. But is that evidence for the nature, not nurture, camp – and is that problematic?

  • Do these “Chinese Developers” know, the Federal Reserve Bank has height restrictions on all properties to prevent them to block their Downtown view? I am 100% sure they will NOT be happy once they find this out. Unless they pay the Federal Reserve Bank good money for those views.

    Local Planner

  • Umm, okay. This is certainly ambitious and inspiring and all, but isn’t this now the 3rd massive vacant lot adjacent to Allen Parkway with grand development plans? At it’s current growth rate I’d be happy just to see a 7-11 or nail shop open up along the pkwy.

  • I think Turner’s comments were a plant from the developer to throw everyone off the obvious: this is never going to happen. It has all the telltale signs: foreign money flowing through the visa program; proposed residential in a market stuffed with new residential highrise development coming online in the next two years; proposed office in a market when the office market in Houston is flooded with enough sublease space to house a couple of corporate HQs; and a proposed hotel that is too far from downtown to make it a first choice for conventions , business travelers or other downtown events (and also on the back end of a hotel building spree downtown). Even the international investors will get spooked once they see that market conditions in Houston are not ready to digest a big project like this.

    As for Turner: the big real estate development industry may be one of the most white male dominated industries out there, second only to NASCAR. It is no surprise that the focus of this industry is on high end developments in wealthy and predominately white areas. There very well may be bigger returns to be found taking big risks on areas like the Hardy Yards or east side and incorporating housing options for different income levels. Rich white people like building things for other rich white people. If the industry had more diversity, you would see different patterns of development. But the industry is always able to avoid scrutiny by claiming that they would love to do projects outside of the rich white areas but the meanie markets won’t let them.

  • So much for a water park lol….

  • im well aware this is a pipe dream project. i mean just look at the crap renderings for such an expensive project. I just rather here about a small business opening up in 5th Ward, a Farmers Market prospering in Acres Homes or a CoOp Garden in 3rd Ward! This COMMUNITY DRIVEN blog must not be very DIVERSE, considering all the projects and developments look the same! 🤔 this has nothing to do with race. it is just our society is retarded enough to believe that we need to keep investing BILLIONS into the already rich, when the other 99% are plunging into poverty. the .0001% are gaining so much so fast that even a millionaire that’s is gaining more millions is impoverished by the income gap! nothing is about race y’all white we BLACK, nothing new, we can live in tandem as we once did, the issue is this CLASS CRAP. but Amerikkka will burn for it as i say…

  • Eh, once these Chinese developers realize they are building in Houston, they will reduce the size of the project, erase any interesting design features in an effort to “cost-cut” or cancel the crap altogether, blaming the Houston yo-yo “economy”, which of course, they initially “didn’t take into account.” Business as usual in Houston. Honestly, we all should know better than to get overly excited by big, glitzy initial renderings that almost never come to fruition in this town anymore.

  • @Adoile, if you’d rather read about those areas, you’re welcome to submit your own stories to the Swamplot tip line that is linked on every page here.

  • That last rendering reminds me a lot of the original River Oaks District plan. Hopefully this doesn’t have the same downgraded fate.

  • @Adoile – There have been some amusing articles from the 5th ward recently. (Midway, MDI Lot, Recent Metal Homes being built, The driveway that was too long, The park built at Kelly Village) Complaining that this site is racist without doing your research deflates real claims of racism.

  • Adoile: Odd. Whenever I read about new development in ‘areas of color’, it’s normally people protesting the gentrification of the ara that’s driving everyone out.
    I’ll agree that there is ‘classism’ involved in development (insomuch as it effects financials) but it’s not racism. A builder wants to sell. He doesn’t care who he sells to. “Rich areas” tend to be better areas to build in than ‘poor areas’. Color has zero to do with it.

  • once again i guess i must repeat myself and say this has nothing to do with race but CLASS.

  • @ Adoile: Forgive me, but I had been led to believe that your comments specifically related to race because you cited eleven neighborhoods as examples of areas not receiving enough attention, all of which are predominantly Hispanic or black neighborhoods. You even said as much with caps lock turned on.
    Although you didn’t mention any poor white neighborhoods, I did as part of my response in order to acknowledge and legitimize what I thought was your argument, that race remains a divisive issue in our society and in business and media which reflects it back on us.
    Now you’re backtracking. So I have to ask you a question: If your intention is only to argue about classism, then why didn’t you list any poor predominantly white neighborhoods? Why did you ignore those? Why does the perceived bias of a third party bother you when your own demonstrated bias does not?

  • Anyone who spells America as “Amerikkka” can be safely disregarded.
    And Adoile, if you’re really anxious to see sketchup renderings of high-rises in BLACK&HISPANIC!!1 neighborhoods, go talk to some Rice architecture students. I’m sure they’d love to do it as a class project. Swamplot will probably even cover it.

  • Adoile Turner III, even if Swamplot may not report stories all over the map, your thoughts are all over the map, and that’s worth something in Amerikkka today.
    On a more relevant note. This reminds me of the mixed use development that was supposed to go where Astroworld was. What was that plan in the 1970s for downtown? Wasn’t it a 16 block, mixed use thing with a monorail?
    This is a pipe dream that will never come to pass. Probably someone’s architecture project in college.

  • Isn’t this development located in a historically poor black neighborhood?