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Capitol Tower by Skanska, formerly Houston Club Building

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editor    668

From an architectural standpoint, it would be nice if the skyline were not so lopsided by the height/shape/color of the Chase tower, a high rise in this location would address it's context in a way that could "smooth" out the height and material discrepancies (see for example the Chevron bldg by Pelli in it's synthesis of 1400 Smith and the Exxon tower).

Sometimes a little asymmetry can be a good thing. Remember Manhattan before 2001. After the Twin Towers came down it took a while for me to be able to recognize the New York skyline at a glance because I was used to looking for one out-of-scale landmark.

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Nate99    6172

Skanska has put up nifty wallpaper down in the tunnels with pictures of a bunch of their projects and other trade-showy looking graphics.

I also noticed guys with surveying equipment taking measurements down there earlier this week and there are cross hatches with number markings on the floor that are new. Are there any tenants in there other than the Skyline deli in the tunnels and Brown Bag at street level? Hunan, BK, a salon and a shoe repair shop all left. They must have some plan for a major renovation going on.

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Subdude    1278

Houston Club will be moving out:

The Houston Club and the Plaza Club, which is part of ClubCorp, have signed an agreement to combine operations. The Houston Club will relocate to the 49th floor of One Shell Plaza from 811 Rusk.

Plans for the merger at the Plaza Club location include a $3.5 million renovation and expansion, "preserving the rich traditions and prominence of both clubs in a spectacular venue that is planned to have a fresh, new look with expanded dining and social features," according to a statement from the Houston Club. It said more details about membership and the renovations should be completed and announced in August.

The combined group will take the Houston Club name, which dates to 1894.

http://www.chron.com/business/article/Houston-Club-and-Plaza-club-are-merging-3674861.php

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Subdude    1278

And the building will be coming down. Very sorry to read this from Sarnoff.

Downtown's Houston Club Building could be gone by the end of this year as the new owner moves forward with plans to redevelop the property.

Skanska USA Commercial Development has hired the Gensler architecture firm to design something new for the site.

Spokeswoman Jessica Murray confirmed plans to raze the 18-story tower and said the company will release more details in about a month. The demolition could happen this year, Murray said, but that timing was not final.

In the meantime, Skanska is doing more to get its name out to the downtown market.

The company, a unit of Swedish construction conglomerate Skanska, has covered the walls in the tunnel beneath the Houston Club Building with images of its other real estate projects.

Last fall, the company purchased the 64-year-old Houston Club Building, which had previously been in foreclosure.

At that time, Skanska USA executive Michael Mair said it would be difficult to keep the property

http://www.chron.com/business/sarnoff/article/Sarnoff-Wrecking-ball-will-come-for-downtown-3674764.php

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mfastx    441

Yet another historic and perfectly salvagable Houston building bites the dust.

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KinkaidAlum    2057

The worst part, there's a very real chance that they take the building down and then don't land financing or a tenant and we end up with another empty parcel downtown.

How many things have we lost in this city only to watch as NOTHING replaces it?

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RedScare    1636

Far fewer things than the number of things that were built where nothing was there before. See the Galleria for an example.

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Houston19514    2110

The worst part, there's a very real chance that they take the building down and then don't land financing or a tenant and we end up with another empty parcel downtown.

I don't think financing is an issue for these guys. They use their own money and are perfectly happy building completely spec.

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Nate99    6172

Interesting. I'm curious if they are going to ruffle any feathers by what I would presume would be a mandatory closure of the tunnels during demolition and reconstruction. Chase Tower and others will be severed from the tunnel system.

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Nate99    6172

Yet another historic and perfectly salvagable Houston building bites the dust.

What do you see that is historic about it? It may be perfectly usable/salvageable, but from the outside it is a plain brown box. I'm guessing Skanska thinks that they can get more money out of something new and shiny and/or a teardown/rebuild is cheaper than a meaningful refurb.

With the Esperson buildings and others in the immediate vicinity not hurting for available space to sell, but new stuff filling quickly, their move makes sense.

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mfastx    441

What do you see that is historic about it? It may be perfectly usable/salvageable, but from the outside it is a plain brown box. I'm guessing Skanska thinks that they can get more money out of something new and shiny and/or a teardown/rebuild is cheaper than a meaningful refurb.

With the Esperson buildings and others in the immediate vicinity not hurting for available space to sell, but new stuff filling quickly, their move makes sense.

It's age makes it historic.

I would definitely not be opposed to them building something new on the site that is better. That would be optimal.

I would be a little pissed off if they just sat on the land and put a parking lot there for now.

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Nate99    6172

It's age makes it historic.

I would definitely not be opposed to them building something new on the site that is better. That would be optimal.

I would be a little pissed off if they just sat on the land and put a parking lot there for now.

It would be a shame if a parking lot was more commercially viable than a building that seemed to be perfectly serviceable, but I can't say I heard of any tenants, other than the club themselves and the few retail shops.

Seems not worth the bother and possibly unlikely given that they have disclosed that they already hired Gensler.

Hoping for the best, but it's not my money.

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KinkaidAlum    2057

That building could have made a nice condo/apartment/hotel conversion. It's location is excellent, which is why it's likely biting the dust.

That said, there is absolutely NO guarantee that something will replace it. Skanska is building their Galleria area tower but their energy corridor tower needs a lead tenant first. That's the hottest office market in town. While downtown's market is strong, Skanska will likely be fighting other, more established developers (Hines, Brookfield, Crescent) in a race to get out of the ground.

Again, I would hate to see a building that still has life left and could potentially make an excellent apartment or hotel conversion bite the dust for a speculative office tower that may or may not happen.

How long have we been waiting for the West side of market square to be rebuilt or for things to fill in around Minute Maid Park?

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Subdude    1278

What do you see that is historic about it? It may be perfectly usable/salvageable, but from the outside it is a plain brown box. I'm guessing Skanska thinks that they can get more money out of something new and shiny and/or a teardown/rebuild is cheaper than a meaningful refurb.

Well, not every building can - or should - be a shiny glass tower. Plain brown box or not, I've always thought that it is a pretty elegant structure. That corner of Travis with the Houston Club on one side and the Gulf Building on the other is one of the more urbane stretches of downtown.

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RedScare    1636

That building could have made a nice condo/apartment/hotel conversion. It's location is excellent, which is why it's likely biting the dust.

That said, there is absolutely NO guarantee that something will replace it. Skanska is building their Galleria area tower but their energy corridor tower needs a lead tenant first. That's the hottest office market in town. While downtown's market is strong, Skanska will likely be fighting other, more established developers (Hines, Brookfield, Crescent) in a race to get out of the ground.

Again, I would hate to see a building that still has life left and could potentially make an excellent apartment or hotel conversion bite the dust for a speculative office tower that may or may not happen.

How long have we been waiting for the West side of market square to be rebuilt or for things to fill in around Minute Maid Park?

Your wait is over.

http://www.chron.com/business/article/Apartments-by-ballpark-could-be-grand-slam-3703726.php

Real estate developer Marvy Finger is buying two prime downtown blocks for a seven-story apartment project to be built across from Minute Maid Park.

...

Finger is planning 380 apartments on adjacent blocks bounded by Preston, Crawford, Texas and La Branch. His contract to buy the property is expected to close next month. Trammell Crow and Texas Avenue Properties LP each own one block.

...

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Nate99    6172

Well, not every building can - or should - be a shiny glass tower. Plain brown box or not, I've always thought that it is a pretty elegant structure. That corner of Travis with the Houston Club on one side and the Gulf Building on the other is one of the more urbane stretches of downtown.

There was nothing at all wrong with it, that I could see. I'm just trying to guess Skanska's motives. An interesting thing to me is how it occupies virtually the entire block with its footprint. That's actually pretty rare downtown.

How are the Gulf and Esperson buildings doing for tenants? I agree that that block of Travis looks very clean and classic.

Edited by Nate99

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flatline    31

Our business just rented a full floor in the Gulf Building (712 Main) a few months ago. The building was sold by Chase to a REIT a few years ago, and the new ownership is pumping money into amenities, elevators, etc. I would say it was a Class "B+" office building when we first looked at it, and they're working to get it to "A-". Working with our architect, we went with a modern, bright, clean look to counterbalance the lower ceiling heights and smaller windows, and I think we succeeded. I love the beginning and end of work days getting to walk through the grand bank lobby -- 30 seconds of beauty to start and end my day. Building management is constantly parading potential tenants through our space, so I'm guessing it's starting to lease up.

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plumber2    180

The parking garage, like many built during that era, has (or had) an employee lift. This single person device is an open air shaft between floors that has a step for the parking attendant to step onto as it takes them to an upper or lower floor. Think of it as a giant rubber band stretched from bottom floor to top that runs continuosly. Stepping on and off at each floor required little effort, but I'm sure became a safety nightmare as OSHA and lawsuit happy lawyers came along.

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Nate99    6172

Walked through the building in the tunnels today. They already took down the descriptive plaques for the pictures of the various Skanska projects that are on the wallpaper in the tunnel.

They were only up for maybe a month.

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j_cuevas713    900

I really believe this developer is going to build something nice in place of this historic structure. Skanska I think is trying build a bit of a good reputation with the community by develpoing that new day care center. This is such a prime lot, it wouldn't suprise me if he built something big enough to add to the skyline.

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Nate99    6172

Walked through the building in the tunnels today. They already took down the descriptive plaques for the pictures of the various Skanska projects that are on the wallpaper in the tunnel.

They were only up for maybe a month.

Never mind. The plaques were back up this morning.

For a minute there I thought this was the fastest track to demolition ever envisioned. It will be interesting to see if they do anything to accomodate the tunnels.

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mfastx    441

My inner voices are saying "parking garage...parking garage!"

Hey, at least that's better than a parking LOT!

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