Independent Arts Collaborative Buying Midtown Lot for New Main St. Arts Center

Planned for the Midtown block surrounded by Main, Travis, Francis, and Holman streets: a new 90,000-sq.-ft. multi-tenant performing arts center that might look something like this. And after a city-hall vote this week, it seems more likely to be built: Council approved the sale of the property at 3400 Main St., currently a surface parking lot for the soon-to-be-former city permit office one block to the north, for $2.5 million.

The buyer and developer of the new building is the Independent Arts Collaborative, a consortium of local arts organizations — including Fotofest, Diverseworks, the Houston Arts Alliance, Musiqa, Suchu Dance, Opera Vista, Catastrophic Theater, Nameless Sound, the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, and Main St. Theater. Also part of the deal: Another one of those 380 revenue-sharing agreements: This one will allow the developer to receive up to $6 million in reimbursements from increases in tax revenue resulting from the project.

Details of the building — as well as plans for several projects proposed nearby — were included in a study produced last year for the Houston-Galveston Area Council:


Those plans show a 3-story building with a front door at the corner of Holman and Main St., across from the Ensemble/HCC Metro station. It includes 3 separate theater spaces reached from a second-floor lobby, a 10,000-sq.-ft. shared exhibit space on the ground floor along Holman, and 2 smaller gallery spaces along Main St. Plus: rehearsal, classroom, office, and flex spaces, and a rooftop plaza.

The Chronicle‘s Purva Patel reports that the IAC intends to deed the building to the city once it’s complete. It would then be managed by the recently created government corporation that now runs the George R. Brown convention center, Houston First.

Images: Houston-Galveston Area Council Livable Centers Study

27 Comment

  • Oh geez, not another 380. Here we go again!

  • At least this 380 looks geared to the public good. Tell me again about Walmart’s contribution to society, Justice Thomas.

  • Looks like a cool concept. Only problem is parking. If they take away the parking lot just south of the proposed development (which is mentioned in the article), where will everyone park? It’s currently heavily utilized by downtown and medical center workers who take the train to their workplace; adding in the people who would patronize this new building, they’d better have a good plan for all the cars in the area.

  • great news

  • Swampy: what becomes of the 3300 Main building that Midtown Redevelopment just
    puchased for $5 million?

  • Putting all of those organizations in one building seems messy to me, but maybe it’s the only way they can afford it. I’ll miss the north of Downtown location for Diverse Works and FotoFest.

    As for parking, it seems to me that except for matinees, the greatest parking demand will be in the evening, so maybe that will not overlap too heavily with the commuting parkers. And, of course, guests can find another spot along the light rail line to park and then take the train to the center.

    I think possible winners here will be Inman, Art Palace, Devin Borden and Bryan Miller galleries a few blocks south of there on Main. It’s always struck me as inconvenient that our commercial art galleries are generally not within walking distance of non-commercial museums and art-spaces.

  • @Carrie: There was an article in the Chronicle yesterday discussing this project with additional plans to develop parking garages with additional retail.

  • I thought to be eligible for a 380 agreement you had to demonstrate to the City that you did not need the funds and were capable of developing the project without City assistance thanks to the huge pile of cash you are making selling part of the project to the no. 1 company on the Fortune 500. Clearly, this collective of local non-profit arts organizations will not be able to meet this standard. It is too bad because this looks like a brilliant project that would help revitalize Midtown in a big way and do wonders for the local arts scene. Maybe they could get Walmart to put up the 6 million to sponsor the project.

  • Who’s the design architect?

  • Wait, so Main Street Theater would actually be on Main St.? What a novel concept.

  • Thrilled by the idea of united arts compound in a centrally located area! My biggest concern pertains to what happens to the venues abandoned when major stakeholders move into the space. Ideally, we want to end up with more venues for the greater art community and not just a reshuffling of those organizations who already have spaces- despite the obviously beneficial upgrade.

  • Museum district swallows midtown. Nom. Nom. Nom.

  • +1. I hope this gets built. Where can we donate to the building fund?

  • I think it’s cute that old school and the other Walmart haters, disguised as good stewards of taxpayer money, are suddenly 380 agreement supporters. So much for ideological consistency. D’Oh!

  • “My biggest concern pertains to what happens to the venues abandoned when major stakeholders move into the space.”

    FotoFest and Diverse Works rent space. Diverse Works is in a big warehouse downtown–someone else will rent that space, presumably. It’s a good space for exhibitions because it is utter flexible, but it would be fine for other uses, too. FotoFest’s exhibition space was in a funky rehabbed office space. It’s a cool building but a terrible place to display art. Presumably they’ll rent out FotoFest’s office space (which is ordinary, open plan office space). As for the exhibition space–well, it isn’t that great. It would be fantastic for FotoFest to have access to more traditional, flexible exhibition space.

  • Midtown, supposedly, used to be so expensive nobody was building on it. Have things changed for the better in that regard? Will this stretch be crushing it in about 2 years?

  • Nuance, lost on Dave.

  • My fear is that once Houston First takes over operation of the facility, it will be too expensive for the smaller independents that desperately need occasional rental space…(think Mildred’s Umbrella for one)

  • At the end of the day the provision of this arts space will benefit a far smaller group of people than will benefit from access to more affordable grocery choices. In the same way that you might feel aggrieved that your tax dollars are going towards infrastructure surrounding a grocery store that you will never patronise others are equally entitled to feel aggrieved that their tax dollars will be going towards an arts space that they will never see any benefit from.

  • Wow, looks like panhandler paradise.

    Nice overhangs, well-heeled patrons…

    I’ll predict they’re be a gauntlet to run in order to reach the front door.

    Needs fencing and guards….lots!

  • There are four high-end art galleries four blocks south of there on Main. Every six weeks or so, they have simultaneous openings that attract tons of well-heeled culture vultures. It is right across the street from the Men’s Center, a drug and rehab center, and within a few blocks of many homeless services. And I have never encountered a panhandler at an opening there. Why should the Independent Arts Collaborative be any different?

  • …You were lucky, Robert.

    …and they probably added security for the events.

    My experience has been drastically different

  • I have been to every opening at the Isabella Courts galleries (Inman Gallery, Art Palace, CTRL/Bryan Miller) for the past two years. I have never once seen a security guard or bouncer at an opening. Nor have I ever seen a panhandler. I have eaten at Natachee’s and T’afia and browsed at Sig’s Lagoon–all without once being panhandled.

    I know there are a lot of homeless and rehab service centers in the neighborhood. I wouldn’t be surprised if I were panhandled. But my experience of very frequently going out to eat and going to art events in that neighborhood has been panhandler free. So either I am unusually lucky, or else it’s not as big a problem as you portray.

  • I’m glad you wouldn’t be surprised.

    I sat on a board that met 2x/mo. for 3 years,
    ending last year, within a few hundred yards
    of this space. I was trailed (even cursed a couple of times) by panhandlers roughly ten separate times, a conservative estimate.

    Possibly you don’t walk any great distance to reach your “culture-vulture” events or perhaps you are a big Midtown booster/apologist…or unusually lucky.

    There is a pay site that monitors crime stats (lost the link, sorry) in the Midtown area. I haven’t checked in the last year or so, but Midtown has some of the nastiest stats around….and it will continue to so long as our prisons continue to issue bus tickets terminating at the Trailways Station right up the street.

    So, IMO, you’re lucky -or move swiftly-not to have been hit on in Midtown…we used “gallows” humor at board mtgs to describe our near-constant run-ins, so it’s not just me.

    Check Midtown crime stats.

    Also, I HAVE been panhandled @The Continental, next to Sig’s, but at night.
    Not at T’afia, but I did notice security there, as well as The Breakfast Klub.

    Midtown is and has been a relatively high-crime area for decades, and change is/will be very slow.
    I’m glad your anecdotal experience has been unmarred and it’s obvious you’re a fan of this venue, but….

  • Panhandlers….who cares. It happens no matter what. I agree it could be messy but the crossover will be nice for the people who only experience one scene.

  • Design architect is Lake|Flato out of San Antonio, Studio Red is the theatrical consultant. Should be a interesting project.

  • you all are obviously showing your age by identifying the homeless as “panhandlers”
    what a bunch of pathetic SNOBS you are…go back and read your entries… wouldnt know the grace of Christ if it bit you in the behind!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!