Big, Expensive HISD Box To Be Replaced by Big, Cheap Costco Box

Former HISD Central Administration Building on Richmond

Proposed Costco on Richmond

The building was simply too big, too lavish, too expensive, too outmoded, and too hot a property for a school district to keep. The site was prime real estate, near the projected path of a new rail line, and perfect—said the buyers—for a dense “New Urbanist-style” mixed-use center. The big concrete box surrounded by parking just didn’t seem to make sense. So after HISD sold its Central Administration building on Richmond at Weslayan, Trammell Crow Co. had it razed last year to make the site ready for new, fresher, denser development.

And the new development is . . . a Costco! With an LA Fitness above it! Plus some outside-the-mall-style pad sites in a big surface parking lot facing Richmond! A small parking garage too. Oh, and an apartment complex tucked in back.

What happened?

[Trammell Crow project manager Craig] Cheney said the project had quietly shifted direction some time ago.

“We looked around, and we had all these competing projects with integrated residential, office and retail, all competing for the same few retailers,” he said. “Life is too short to get into that kind of situation.”

So the project — which had an initial design including a hotel, high-rise and garden homes, a bookstore, grocery store and other features integrated into one “village” — took on a different form.

Shorter version: Costco wanted the site, so the developers jumped at the chance for some of that inside-the-loop big-box excitement.

After our jump, dreamy architect sketches of Paseo, the mixed-use European-style “lifestyle center” Trammell Crow and the Morgan Group waved in front of us for a brief, shining moment in our—yes, too-short lives.


Plan of Paseo Proposal for HISD HQ Site

Massing Model of Paseo Proposal Showing Building Types

Plaza View of Proposed Paseo Development at Former HISD Site on Richmond at Weslayan

View of Proposed Paseo Development at Richmond and Weslayan

Street View of Paseo Proposal for Former HISD Central Administration Building at Richmond and Weslayan

Really, does this look at all like Houston to you? What could they have been thinking?

Photo of the HISD Hattie Mae White Central Administration Building: Paseo images: Hermes Architects.