Hilton Americas-Houston in Houston

Photo of Hilton Americas-Houston in Houston, Texas
Photograph Wayne Lorentz
Photo of Hilton Americas-Houston in Houston, Texas
Photograph Wayne Lorentz
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Photo of Hilton Americas-Houston in Houston, Texas
Photograph Wayne Lorentz
Photo of Hilton Americas-Houston in Houston, Texas
Photograph Wayne Lorentz
Photo of Hilton Americas-Houston in Houston, Texas
Photograph Wayne Lorentz
Photo of Hilton Americas-Houston in Houston, Texas
Photograph Wayne Lorentz
Photo of Hilton Americas-Houston in Houston, Texas
Photograph Wayne Lorentz
Photo of Hilton Americas-Houston in Houston, Texas
Photograph Wayne Lorentz

Hilton Americas-Houston

1600 Lamar, Houston, Texas, Downtown 77010


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This building is the central pivot in a plan to bring new life to the east side of downtown. Previously, the area was little more than one surface parking lot after another. With the expansion of the convention center, and the construction of the downtown basketball and hockey arena, this new hotel was a must. It is actually physically linked with the convention center via two skywalks, and is across the street from the arena. It is a rare punctuation in the neighborhood skyline, which previously ended with the Houston Center several blocks away. There has been little debate over the look of this hotel. While some projects like the Calpine Center and 1500 Louisiana became the center of furious discussion, the Hilton Americas-Houston, with it's bland appearance and wicker-basket facade, managed to slide under the aesthetic radar. That may be because it was caught up in a political spider web. The city has needed this hotel for decades. Large conventions wouldn't consider the Bayou City without it, and because of that, millions of convention dollars went elsewhere. For 30 years, people tried to get it built, but with so much greed swirling around the chambers at City Hall, it seemed like every politician wanted a piece of the pie. In fact, several were caught on videotape during an FBI sting taking a bribe in connection with the hotel. Councilmen Ben Reyes, John Castillo, John Peavy Junior, and Michael Yarbrough, and Port Commissioner Berri Maldonado were indicted. Reyes and Maldonado were convicted.

Quick Facts
Timeline
  • September 11, 2008: The Houston Chronicle reports that this hotel is being put up for sale by the city of Houston.
Notes
    >The hotel has 1,200 rooms.
    >The hotel has 62 suites.
    >The hotel has two Presidential suites.
    >The hotel has two ballrooms, and 30 meeting rooms.
    >At the time of its opening, the hotel had the largest ballroom in Houston -- 40,000 square feet.
    >1998 - City councilman Ben Reyes, and Port Commissioner Betti Maldonado are convicted of bribery and conspiracy for taking bribes from an undercover FBI agent in order to sway their vote on the hotel contract. Reyes gets nine years in a Georgia prison. Maldonado does four-and-a-half at a lockup in Fort Worth.
    >21 December, 1999 - The city chooses a location for the hotel.
    >28 July, 2001 - Groundbreaking.
    >1 September, 2001 - Construction begins.
    >17 February, 2003 - Topping out.
    >4 December, 2003 - The hotel opens one month late.
Did You Know?
    >This building is in violation of the city's sign ordinance. The giant "Hilton" at the top violates downtown signage rules. No one will be punished because the city owns the building and is leasing it to Hilton, making it a city-owned building and exempt from many city ordinances.
    >The kitchen can cook 500 chicken breasts simultaneously.
    >The kitchen can brew 6,000 cups of coffee at the same time using a dozen industrial coffee brewers.
    >The laundry room can process 100 pounds of laundry every two minutes.
    >The hotel keeps 4,000,000 feet of toilet paper on hand.
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