The Red Apartments Coming to Midtown Instead of a New Fire Museum

Here’s a view, from high above the auto-repair shop to its northeast, of that 7-story apartment block Trammell Crow Residential plans to build on the block-sized vacant lot at the corner of Main St. and Hadley it purchased last month from the Houston Fire Museum. The 215-unit building designed by Houston’s EDI International will be called the Alexan Midtown. The 1.44-acre property was given to the fire museum in the mid-1990s by anonymous donors, writes the HBJ‘s Shaina Zucker. The institution accepted the buyout offer after a lackluster 9-year fundraising campaign to build a new exhibit hall on the property on the rail line 3 blocks south of the Pierce Elevated flamed out. Construction is scheduled to begin in January.

Rendering: Trammell Crow Residential/EDI International

24 Comment

  • Why must everything look exactly the same? Is creativity dead?

  • To me, that drawing doesn’t indicate the coveted and hallowed presence of ground floor retail. Shame.

  • Will this be on the west or east side of the light rail?

  • because yet another box building for hipster douches is just what the city needs…

  • I know my rants about dull, lackluster architecture in Houston are becoming a little redundant but can you blame me? My next question is U of H or Rice Schools of Architecture doing anything to stop this onslaught? Maybe its time for Gehry, B.I.G. or S.H.O.P. etc. to bless our city with a design that pulls us into a renaissance and out of the mediocrity? Last question, what happens to the Fire Museum? A NINE year unsuccessful fundraiser probably spells trouble. Midtown district should have stepped up and made it happen, typical. peace

  • Serious question: What kind of retailers are willing to rent ground floor retail below apartment buildings? My unscientific analysis indicates that it’s almost exclusively douchey brunch spots and wine bars.

    How many of those can Houston, let alone Midtown, support?

  • @Texmex. And exactly what do we need on this particular corner ? And to the others whether this style is repetitive or not, do you seriously expect a mass market merchant like Crow. (Or Kroger or Wal-Mart etc……) To make an.architectural statement on a product that will be torn down or vacated for a newer building 35-40 years from now? Yes its lamentable but.these projects are about bottom lines not making monuments.

  • Normally I would be cheering more development in Midtown, but this is a major bummer to me. I remember when the Fire Museum presented information about their plans for the site several years ago. It would have been an awesome place for schools to visit from around the city, and it was going to take the museum to a whole new level. They made it sound like (back then) that funds were on target. I don’t know what happened, but I never saw any other fund raising efforts and find it strange they didn’t raise anything.

  • @JT: the buildings of the Commercial/Chicago Style and the Art Decco period were not attempts to make monuments that would last to the end of time. They were projects that were just like today. There were investors who wanted to see a good return on their money and developers who wanted to fill up their buildings with tenants. But back then, architecture was seen as an investment. The better looking the building, the higher the rents and better demand for sq ft. Now it is seen as an expense and a liability (if too outside the box). And there is a collective safety out there as everyone is building the same boring stuff. No one will be seen as any better or any worse than the other. Everyone is just as boring as the other.

  • to me, there seems to be possible ground floor retail.

  • There’s a particular architectural style evident in this, and most apts going up these days around town. Brick and stucco or just stucco, different colors, few fancy trimmings. There’s also that more angular style which seems to be an offshoot from the “tin shed” look from 10-15 years ago that is still used, often in commercial bldgs. So this “boring” look will become cool if it survives 50-100 years. And with the current boomlet and these midrises filling in Midtown, I imagine the majority will survive that long and this era will be remembered with fond waves of nostalgia; ah, the coffee shops, the douchy bars, the amazing style…how cool it would be to be alive in 2013.

  • Looks like a poor man’s West Ave.

  • @Dana-X: Brutalism has hit 50 and is still just as ugly and hated as it ever was. Many of the first waves of modern minimalist office buildings look like cheap spec office buildings as time and imitation has stripped them of their once shocking modernity and originality.

    There really is something to architecture. It is not arbitrary and does not simply become something of value after a set period of time.

  • Can some of the haters out there post some links to pics of the type of multi-family product you’d like to see built in Houston?

    Just curious. Maybe there’s awesome stuff being built elsewhere that I’m not aware of.

  • @ infinite_jim, hahaha! Poor mans West Ave… Thx. I needed that laff.

    @ SimplySid, UofH and Rice produce great architectural designers! We are just underutilized by the developer community here in town, just go to any Planning Comission to see. Sorry, but they S.H.O.P. and Gehry are not getting anywhere near here. I’d be happy if TCR just followed the model set at Bagby with the Post Development.

    @ Brenard, check out the Courthouse District in Arlington, VA.

  • Much worse than a vacant lot. What are they thinking?!?

  • @Bernard

    My thoughts exactly. I think that most of the people here would be complaining about any proposal put forth.

    Archtectual wet dreams don’t benefit anyone. Anyone that matters at least. Investors want to build something that will make them money. People just want a place to live, and very few renters or buyers want to live in a place which looks like weird.

    After all, this is just a 7 story apartment building. What do you expect?

  • There are a few places in Houston where I think that ground-level retail makes for good public policy even if I know that it will require incentives to bring around the first wave of development. At first blush, I though to myself: this might be one of those places.

    And then I looked at a map. Ground-level retail that is merely one block away from the Greyhound Station and oh-so-many pain clinics seems like it would be inviting trouble. Maybe this is one of those things that can be fixed in 10 or 20 years, but not within any reasonable time horizon. And in the meantime, the landlord would be required to give notice every time that there was a violent crime on premises; so even they you could find a retail tenant, why bother?

  • One of these days (hopefully soon) the bus stations will be moved … most likely north. Unfortunately these monstrosities won’t move along with them.

  • @Old School. I hear what you’re saying. But who’s to say what is good architecture? Buildings are hated, loved, hated and loved again. It’s all just fickle human mental noise. I think the Brutalist buildings are almost anti-style so they’re harder to love and 30-50 years is too soon for any time-aided appreciation to really bloom. That’s really the span where most styles are being demoed for looking old. Art Deco/Moderne buildings were going down hard in the 60s-70s. It’s almost as if the generations that were alive when the style was born need to die first…so you and I aren’t likely to ever know the answer to this one…

  • I think as Midtown develops into the residential neighborhood it is hoped to be, we will see the reason why retail development along with the apartments will be a much valued commodity.
    Go to any city where the density levels are way above the traditional suburban neighborhoods, and the quality of life factor necessitates having retail on each block. Look at New York or Chicago. You can walk out of your apartment and go to the barber or the cleaners or the florist
    without ever getting in a car. I have watched Houston grow for 60 years and things happen so fast once there is a tipping point. And friends if you can’t understand or comprehend that in 10 – 15 years Midtown will be a thriving community full of young creative artistic and successful inhabitants, with theaters, museums and midrise towers, you just haven’t been paying attention. There will be enough people living in apts. in Midtown to support businesses of all kinds. I’m tired of the same old comments about the negative issues with Midtown.
    There so overblown and just flat wrong.
    Its safer than the suburbs. Houston is evolving and hopefully so will the quality of life!

  • What a shame!! Money seems to rule everything!
    As an old, native Houstonian, I was looking forward to the Fire Museum. Houston was recently voted as the ugliest city in America and they keep building these monotonous monsters all over town. They all have the same dull look and are contributing to Houston’s perceived ugliness. I actually remember when that old Fire Station was used. It is a much more individual and interesting building that that crap they are going to build. Goodbye Old Houston!

  • Bob: Did you donate? Rhetorical question as per the group raising funds, they didn’t get anything donated.
    If no one wants to donate, that’s a strong market signal that something else should go in its place.