The Second New Market Square Apartment Tower Set to Replace Another Downtown Surface Parking Lot

Site of Proposed Market Square Tower, 777 Preston St., Market Square, Houston

Proposed Market Square Tower, 777 Preston St., Market Square, HoustonDowntown surface parking lots have been disappearing left and right, notes reader Debnil Chowdhury, who works downtown. The latest to bite the dust is the vacant lot at 300 Milam St. (above), directly adjacent to the Market Square Parking Garage, on account of Woodbranch Investments’ 40-story, 463-unit apartment tower going in there. The lot was closed permanently last week, Chowdhury reports.

If the Preston St. elevation of the proposed building (pictured above right) looks vaguely like Discovery Green neighbor One Park Place but without the tack-on pediments at the roofline, that might be because the new Market Square Tower was designed by the same architects, Jackson & Ryan, and because the roof is reserved for a glass-enclosed gym, sundeck, and pool, as shown in this more recent rendering:


Proposed Market Square Tower, 777 Preston St., Market Square, Houston

Because the tower at 777 Preston St. will be taking over the adjacent Market Square Parking Garage and not building a new one to sit on, its lower amenity deck will be a little more down-to-earth, bringing the requisite pool (a lower-level one), palm trees, and cabanas to the building’s third floor, overlooking Market Square Park. Underneath it, 22,000 sq. ft. of street-facing retail space is planned; judging from the new rendering, the restaurants or stores will likely face Market Square.

View to Site of Proposed Market Square Tower, 777 Preston St., Market Square, HoustonChanges to the adjacent 10-story parking garage will reduce the number of spaces to 950 from about 1100, with 150 spaces reserved for guests and retail customers. Existing garage parking contracts with downtown workers will be kept during construction, Nancy Sarnoff reports.

At 40 stories, the tower is planned to rise 7 levels taller than the Hines Market Square tower Ziegler Cooper is designing for the site across Market Square, and 3 stories taller than One Park Place. As with all new downtown apartment construction, the developers will benefit from the city’s $15K-per-unit tax rebate.

Photos: Debnil Chowdhury. Renderings: Downtown Houston (elevation); Jackson & Ryan Architects (aerial)

777 Preston

39 Comment

  • Amazing what a little green space can do; Market Square, Discovery Green, the rail lines, are all magnets for development.

  • Great news – any new development on a surface lot is excellent, especially one of this magnitude.

    I do wish the design was impressive and notable. This rendering looks basic and blah. The roofline should at least have something unique to add to the skyline. This is really just a giant square going all the way up. Is that type of design in order to be as inexpensive as possible?

  • Looks pretty brutal at the ground level. Thanks Jackson & Ryan!

  • That’s exactly what I thought: One Park Place. This is such an improvement over a surface lot, I can hardly complain that it’s simliar to the other building. Downtown is really booming and with all of these new apartment towers a new grocery store is sure to follow, not sure where it would go, but with all these new residents downtown, they really need one. It’s cool to see downtown so active, when I was a kid you citjd here crickets down there at night.

  • Yeah, I love all the bitching about rail as you watch hundreds of millions of dollars being poured into properties all along the rail lines or adjacent to it–it just shows how wrong these gas bags are about the impact of light rail.
    Light rail was the catalyst for a large percentage of these new developments and any argument to the contrary is just delusional.

  • Those 40 story-up glass-walled pools are cray

  • Rail and the park had little to do with these residential developments. It’s the hot energy industry and the relocation of people that are open to urban living. The massive migration of people to Houston along we renewed interest in foreign investment for real estate is controlling development.

    Houston is the next market like New York and Miami where foreign money is used to buy property and condos. Some may never see residents and only be used as an asset. Money is pouring out of China and Russia to cities like London, New York, Miami, and weirdly Houston and being secured in real estate.

    So gone on believing 1800s technology and a park is supporting the development, it must be a weird delusional world in which you live.

  • Glad to see another surface lot go. Sad to learn it takes a $15K tax break per unit to get it done. Sorry, but that has more to do with developing than the park or light rail.

  • Yeah guys, the two residential highrises going up on the park have nothing to do with the park. They might both be named after the park, but really, they have nothing to do with the park!

  • Market conditions, including the additionof lots of high paying jobs to the Houston economy are fueling the demand for more high rise living in the city. But when scouting out land to build on, proximity to a park or transit is seen as a positive by the developer. Kind of why apartments with Central Park views command higher rents in Manhattan. This, the Hines development, and Skyhouse are all rental properties, and are not geared toward foreign investment. Foreign money buys condos, it doesn’t lease apartments as a place to park money.

  • What’s going on here is very exciting. If the nearby Hines residential project gets built too, I get the feeling this area will start to develop the critical mass it needs for supermarkets, etc.

  • Rail causing development is like saying canoes in the bayou are causing people to build mansions in river oaks. Correlation does not mean causality. It’s the influx of people and institutional investments.

  • I agree–it’s a weird and delusional world we live in, you made my point perfectly, you’re like a comment out of central casting, thx for stopping by to prove my point so succinctly.

  • Oh and of course the resident troll came out drin under his bridge to shout, stomp, and snarl about light rail or any other public subsity of an kind–NO light rail, NO public schools, NO free lunch for you Tiny Tim, NO sports stadiums, NO library’s, NO after school programs, NO sidewalks, NO school buses, NO handicap entrance –lord, I could go on and on—and come on RIVER OAKS?!! River Oaks is Houston’s Toniest Neighborhood, it’s world famous for it’s huge mansions and billionaire’s, it doesn’t need anything to prosper–IT’S RIVER OAKS!!!!!!!!!

  • No question that the park renovation made that little corner of downtown more attractive for development and as a place to be in general, especially in contrast to the bleak “art space” / homeless encampment that it was previously.

    That said, what has motivated this and other downtown residential construction are the facts that (1) we’ve been having, and continue to have, robust job growth of well-paid professionals, a share of whom are “urban-minded” and (2) the lack of supply of upscale apartments (construction having lagged job growth) which has pushed rents up to levels where downtown high-rise apartments became more feasible, maybe with a little help from the incentive program.

    The light rail is a nice-to-have for the residential but hardly a driving factor. And while foreign investment money is looking in Houston, I seriously doubt we’ve risen to the ranks of cities like London or New York where random international oligarchs buy units they hardly ever see just to have a place to park their cash in a prestige location.

  • To assert that there is zero correlation between all the development along Main and Light Rail is laughably ridiculous or that there is zero correlation between this Square and these buildings. It’s like saying that there is zero correlation between the apartment towers in 5th Avenue and Central Park West and Central Park or saying there is zero correlation between the mansions at the foot of Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean–it’s just absurd. As for River Oaks, it’s River Oaks, enough said.

  • Surely having the junction of 2 rail lines within the magic 1/4 mile has something to do with this being built, even if the majority of the residents never board the Green Line or Purple Line, although…this could boost the development in the East End along Harrisburg as far as restaurants etc. since having residents with $ living on the end of the Green Line means the opportunity to coax them to take carless dining/drinking excursions.

  • While the METRORail lines and Discovery Green / Market Square have helped the residential development downtown I still think that the reason developers are now showing increased interest in downtown is the Downtown Living Initiative. That is what lessens the risk for them. I for one as a downtown resident am happy that the Downtown Living Initiative is available. Now let’s hope we get a real “regular” grocery store. Even if it is a small one like the Randalls in Midtown.

  • Gee Shannon and all this time we thought you were the resident troll.

  • I’m surprised nobody has mentioned that rents will start at around $2,000 per month and top out around $6,000 per month. Even the developer indicates that these units won’t be for the average joe. All the while, the City (and the Citizens of Houston) are providing a $15,000 per unit tax incentive to the developer. So that he can charge cheaper rents to the affluent tenants. Crazy how that works.

  • Shannon,

    As bad as Commonsense is, you referring to anyone else as the resident troll is just rich. Again, I worry for the condition of your heart.

    Market Square
    The main correlation with the park is how much the old park design stifled any chance of development, it was a shithole apparently specifically designed to be scary.
    New Park-postitive
    Old Park-incredibly ridiculous negative

    I live in the suburbs, most of my friends live in Midtown. They never ride the train. I do, but that is just because I think it is cool, and I know where the free parking is, not that I think that the rest of the nation should have subsidized a novelty for me. I never actually get anywhere any faster.
    The question train boosters need to ask themselves.
    Q: “Where would this development be going if the train wasn’t there”
    A: “Pretty much the same places it is going anyways”

  • @Walker: If there was an emoticon for tapping finger on nose, I would use it in response to your post. The City is putting up some pretty big money for these developments. The rental market is hot enough that the incentives are pretty much turning into free money for developers. Hopefully the City will quit while it is ahead and cut back on these subsidies. The bill for 380 agreements in 2015 will be @15 mil. That bill will balloon significantly when all of the downtown 380s come due.

  • “I’m surprised nobody has mentioned that rents will start at around $2,000 per month and top out around $6,000 per month. Even the developer indicates that these units won’t be for the average joe. All the while, the City (and the Citizens of Houston) are providing a $15,000 per unit tax incentive to the developer. So that he can charge cheaper rents to the affluent tenants. Crazy how that works.”

    I will say that that is rather crazy, especially considering that almost all of the increased prosperity in this country since 1980 has gone to the richest 20% of the population, and the richest 1% is wildly disproportional yet again. Meanwhile such dreams as owning a home and sending children to college are becoming less and less attainable for a majority of citizens. We’ve decided that welfare for the poor isn’t the best idea, but we haven’t stopped or even slowed welfare for the rich.

    I’m a big downtown booster and I still favor the DLI in the hope that it can inject some life into downtown and make it great once again, but I agree that this is troubling.

  • The tax abatement for these luxury apartments is appalling, especially in light of the fact that the ordinance Parker bases these on is supposed to, in part, provide for affordable housing. This is the same 380 program that gives money to developers so Hermes and Cartier can move from one upscale development to another. Apartments downtown are cool, tax subsidies for them are not.

  • What is all this talk about downtown and grocery stores???? Phoenicia Specialty Foods is one block from discovery green. Georgia’s Market is just a little farther and is also really good.

  • Old School and Mike, I share your concerns. Another interesting item is that the City neglected to budget for any 380 payments for 2014. Did they make all required 380 payments for the 2014 budget year or did they defer some of these payments until 2015?

    They are already crying about the property tax cap that will “carve millions out of the budget” for 2016. As Old School said, the 380’s are already “carving out millions from the budget” – $15M from the 2015 budget and that number is only going to be higher for 2016 and beyond.

    The City should be required to create a webpage that clearly shows all actual and projected 380 payments due by year. Austin does this.

  • Yes, because we all want to pay 4 dollars for a tomato –I mean a speciality HEB, etc–geez, whatever –and i had laugh at commenters defending the one I called the resident troll–he really must have laughed, I know I did. I defend my opinions I don’t just throw out a homophobic comment or say something borderline racist and never defend the position. I have opinions and I defend them, I’m not always right, but I do defend my position and I don’t just say things to piss people off then never to heard from again until the next day. It’s annoying to have people criticize me for being intolerant or opinionated all the while being intolerant of my opinions and are very opinionated in saying so, it seems they’re so busy being the Swamplot Comment Police that they never look at their own Hypocracy. As for this building, it’s bland, but it is tall and it’s better than a parking lot and to say the park and light rail had nothing to do with its location is laughable…see I had an opinion, I defended it, and gave reasons why—some could take a lesson

  • KJB definitely has the Comment Of The Day!

  • I believe the article may be incorrect about the new tower having 22,000 SF of retail facing the park. It’s my understanding that this project has a porta-cochere (basically a covered driveway) facing the park on the corner of Milam and Preston. The current parking garage structure has about 22,000 SF of retail, but unfortunately the majority of that space faces a Chase Bank drive thru, not the park. Amazing how Hines, on such a smaller piece of land and having to include parking, was able to include 10,000 SF of retail in their project on the corner closest to the park: Preston and Travis. This is a poor urban project at the street level.

  • Yes, a few highrises a quarter mile off the rail nearly 15 years after it was built is proof positive that it has done wonders. . . . In any event, how does the tax program work? These aren’t just reduced taxes, but we’re actually paying them to build? I had always assumed that it was abatement. If it’s abatement, then there is no need to account for paying out of pocket, as suggested above. And if these lots stayed parking lots, then the tax revenue would still be minimal in 5 or 10 years. With a new highrise on them, I suspect they would make up the tax abatement they were provided pretty quick (admittedly I have no evidence of that).

  • There’ll be one small retail space, between the porte cochere and bldg lobby. Sundries I’d guess.
    This is planned to be the premier Houston address but has only 4 penthouse units (unless someone buys the entire 39th floor to make one biggie.)
    The apt. units are nothing special in size, but the finishes will be nice, and, there may be different price points relative to floor.
    Yep: infinity pool way up there on the 40th floor!
    Also half-court basketball on the 2nd level.
    Many units will go to foreigners … but 400-odd of them? I dunno

  • The design is lacking. Big time.

  • The economy AND the park attracted this development.

    The economy CAUSED it to be built. The park and rail helped dictate its location.

    But having a park an rail alone without a good economy prevents it from being built at all.

    Without rail and the park, this is built in another part of town, but built none the less.

  • MetroRail is a joke. I can assure you that the rail line had zero to do with causing this development. Rental rates have been going up, up and away all over town. The fact of the matter is that the VAST MAJORITY of multiamily development inside the loop is no where near the rail line. If anything, the rail line killed the burgeoning night life that already booming along Main Street downtown BEFORE the rail showed up. Midtown redevelopment was in full swing BEFORE the rail line was built. In fact, MetroRail had a negative effect on Midtown where it took a once cohesive neighborhood and chopped in in half, turning lots of through streets into dead ends.

  • It’s more of a rebate. They pay the taxes, the City pays a portion back. The City definitely needs to account for it going out (they have budgeted for about $15M for 380’s for 2015) because they account for it going in. Not accounting for this money would just be begging for corruption.

    These tax rebates for retail and residential, whether or not they actually cause the apartments or grocery stores to be built (which is questionable), don’t necessarily generate more taxes. If there are 5000 people willing to spend $2,000 – $6,000 a month in rent, there will be apartments built somewhere – supply and demand. The 400 or so renters for this building won’t just fall out of the sky – they will be renting comparable apartments elsewhere if these units never exist.

    Building the apartments doesn’t create the demand, it creates the supply.

  • Another surface lot gone. Great news! It’s too bad the facade can’t face the park. Now if they could just develop a on those large surface lots on the southside of DT with a fantastic park, then we’ll see some infill. Or is this “too close” to Third Ward.

  • HBJ is now saying that they want a grocery store inside the building as the ground floor retail

  • Interesting insight on the overseas investment angle. A friend lives in one of the condo towers at Hermann/288 and anytime I’ve visited her, the valet park is like a hotel drop off — people with a lot of luggage. So I’d completely buy that these towers that are DT and DT-adjacent are being used for hoteling/corporate housing for the big global companies vs. residents living in them full-time.

  • Per the specs: I love the 40th level Infinity edge south facing pool. I wouldn’t lease the unit(s) directly below- leaking issues..Once again the architects/developers put the lower pool on the WRONG side of the building. Anyone with ANY sense KNOWS, pools go on the SOUTH and/or WEST side(s) of the structure. Users and the pool get MORE sun exposure and algae growth is hindered by the sun and the pool chemicals. Ask people with pools on the east and/or north sides of their properties.They may be a few degrees cooler,but the algae issue is a bitch !!! And the “development INCENTIVE totals: $6,945,000 ( 463 units x $15,000 per unit tax rebate ). Amazing how the City SELECTIVELY hands out REBATES to developers .I wonder how much Woodbranch Investments “donated” to Mayor Parkers pet charity / FUTURE election fund ??? Btw: Woodbranch Investments is a division /subsidiary of BMC Management..