Stores or Restaurants To Take Place of Ben Milam Hotel Shops, Bells & Whistles

A ground-floor plan of the Ballpark Apartments developer Marvy Finger is set to build on 2 downtown blocks beyond Minute Maid Park’s leftfield fence shows a couple of retail spaces are planned for the southern end of the 7-story complex. They’ll face Texas Ave. between La Branch and Crawford. The larger space, on the corner of Texas and Crawford, will take the place of what are now vacant retail spaces on the ground floor of the (long-vacant) Ben Milam Hotel. (It’s at the far bottom left of the Crawford St. rendering above.) A smaller space will take up the ground floor of land now occupied by the more recently shuttered Bells & Whistles Cafe, at the corner of Texas and La Branch. The plans, leaked to HAIF earlier this week, were prepared by Atlanta architects Niles Bolton Associates.


Last week, Houston’s city council approved a plan to sell the block of Prairie St. between La Branch and Crawford to Finger; it’ll be used for the 380-unit, dual-courtyard complex’s parking garage.

Drawings: Niles Bolton Associates

16 Comment

  • I’m so glad it is a Finger project. They understand that Houstonians will pay more for an architecturally designed building with timeless design and quality construction. Way to go!

  • Really? This is a downtown apartment complex?

  • The first true step in building the long-awaited neighborhood around the ballpark. Now if only the Astros could win a game to keep the ballpark viable!

  • They just painted Annunciation across the street, so that corner will be really nice in a couple of years.

  • That hotel has been empty for so long that when it closed, I think Ben Milam might have been one of the residents.

  • Well at least it means more residents for downtown. The complex looks just like all the other apartment developments that are going up around town. Nothing special. It’s kind of sad when you can’t even get a highrise downtown.

  • Will any of those restaurants be able to get a liquor license with that church across the street?

  • I disagree… there is nothing sad about this project! “Sad” would be to let the parking lots and empty, rotting buildings around the ballpark continue to rule the landscape. This location would never realize the rents necessary for high-rise construction (would you pay $2.75 psf to live in this part of downtown? — it is still pretty pioneering). A solid mid-rise project makes total sense. And, this same developer (Finger) DID construct a high-rise residential tower a few years ago just a few blocks away (next to Discovery Green). I applaud this new residential project — and thank the Finger Companies for their commitment to Downtown Houston.

  • Ill have to see a better rendering but as of now, Im not too impressed. Looks like another generic mid rise that belongs in midtown, not in the downtown of the 4th largest city in the U.S. Although, its better than parking lots, but I still dont understand why the historic hotel cant be restored. Guess I shouldn’t expect much from this city though.

  • @firstngoal So I guess we shouldn’t expect any high rises just mid rises to develop from the downtown incentives program.

  • The George R. Brown has more verticality than this thing. Belongs on San Felipe or someplace far from a downtown.

  • For those complaining this is generic, I guess rows and rows of Paris streetscape is boring and repetitive.

    No everything is an architectural masterpiece. Some project are just infill development.

    Downtown and midtown need more infill residential development before any architectural masterpiece. Bringing a critical mass of new residents should be first on the list of the things to achieve.

  • kjb434 is right. Even the great cities are filled with street after street of generic buildings of varying ages.

    The floor plans of those old buildings don’t often lend themselves to economical redevelopment. Ceilings are too low, there aren’t enough stairs, there’s no place to relocate plumbing, the elevators are too small and too few, etc. No sane person is going to spend 5 million dollars to create 3 million of value.

  • I understand about generic infill, but can’t we have infill on the existing streetgrid and not close off streets for this stuff?

  • wow, Marvey has done such a stellar job with his older holdings, so we let him lead us in to the future of downtown living……..what a joke…..The real story is how does anyone get financed to build yet another apartment building when many are vacant? The real story is how does any apartment builder make money off of these buildings, well they don’t until they are paid off, so that is why Marvey holds us hostage with his many less than new looking older properties in nice areas……how about we work together and build a nice livable city Marvey instead of the boss hog type comments you are famous for……it is beneath you to continue this make money no matter what public persona, it is a disgrace to your family name and the city of Houston……also paint the older properties you own you cheap owner!!!!

  • Charles: Where are there vacancies? I don’t know any owner that isn’t 100% full (in this area of inner loop).
    We have a wait list for some properties that were taken by people that couldn’t see a finished unit (since we’re working on them). All these new places are coming up for a reason. You can argue that there *WILL* be more supply than demand once they all come online but right now there is WAY more demand than supply.