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H-Town Man

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Everything posted by H-Town Man

  1. That's too bad. I remember driving down this section of Westheimer (west of Montrose Blvd) in the past and it was always quite interesting. I once had a visitor with me say, "This is the real Houston." This time as I drove east from Shepherd, just as I started to say "Okay, here's where it gets good," I saw the McDonald's and my heart sank.
  2. Have many of these tenants opened shop yet? A friend and I had dinner in Montrose when I was in town last week and I went by to see this, my first time since it's been built. We were both pretty impressed - my friend is not normally into architecture and had never been to Montrose before (lives in Sugarland) but sat down in one of the chairs on the patio and just took it in. The live oaks along Grant are fantastic. Only drawback was that the place was completely dead. When we walked back to Westheimer and were looking around at the shops along the street, he commented, "This place is like mini-Austin." Which I thought was funny but a little annoying, since I'm pretty sure Westheimer was what it is before Austin became what it is. Everything along Westheimer east of the Montrose Blvd intersection looked pretty great, but when you look west across the intersection, the momentum all dies. Can't wait to see what Skanska has planned for the empty lot. This needs to be one of Houston's handful of walkable neighborhoods. Hardly any human life visible outside, although it was Sunday night so not the best time. The gas station at the northwest corner is a real shame but if everything else starts going vertical, maybe it goes away before long. The McDonald's at the corner of Yoakum is also unfortunate, I didn't remember it there. Ate at Acme Oyster House and it was fairly good but overpriced. Honestly when we turned onto Shepherd from 59, that street hit me with "This is Houston and it is great," so much eclectic density. Westheimer east of Shepherd seemed less exciting, kind of listless. Just an impression though.
  3. Please cite where the money has been appropriated by TxDOT for a freeway cap structure.
  4. Got a chance to walk around this neighborhood on a trip to town the other day. I was not overwhelmingly impressed by the new buildings by Hines, but when I got to the corner of Milam and Capitol next to this little plaza and looked around, that is when everything sort of came together. All the new buildings in this area of downtown combined to frame the plaza in such a way that I got a very exciting feeling of being in the center of a dynamic place. The feeling was similar to some of the great small plazas in Chicago like the Federal Plaza, Richard J. Daley Plaza, or the little plaza in front of the Wrigley building (probably better than the first two and not as good as the last). I walked through the Gulf Building and over to Main Street and the feeling continued. Just felt great being downtown. I walk around downtown Austin a few times a week and downtown Houston just has a more mature and ennobling feel - everything in Austin is haphazard and chaotic, whereas the continuous vertical building faces defining the streetgrid in Houston give a sense of assurance and solidity, which stirs the heart in a way that only great downtowns can. The canyon effect of distant sirens and voices evoked thoughts of being in New York. I stood at the corner of Texas and Main, admiring the front of 609 Main, and as my glance turned, I couldn't believe the sight of the dumpy old Binz Building. What a great candidate for redevelopment! The owners have about half the block, and it could connect to the tunnel system. If Skanska can build on such a narrow site at Discovery Green, someone could surely make a great thin office tower right here. Walked a block north on Main and as I passed the Rice, I was struck by how tattered everything suddenly looked. It's sort of the feeling you get in the suburbs when you cross that invisible line between a "desirable" and a "not desirable" school district - the life just seems to get sucked out of everything. I've walked here a hundred times and never quite felt it in this way. Developing the parking lot at Main and Prairie would change this area considerably and extend the effect of the central part of Main Street. As a final note, it was sad how few people were out on the streets at lunch hour on a business day. Makes me wonder if downtown has come as far as I thought it had, but I had to keep reminding myself, "It's the pandemic." Downtown Austin for that matter has about the same level of pedestrian activity at lunchtime, except maybe along Congress. Went to check out POST and although it wasn't exactly bustling, it had more human life than the historic district. Just have to keep improving.
  5. Yeah, last I checked the owner of this block was suing Hines for cutting off tunnel access during construction of Texas Tower. I hope Hines makes them a nice offer for this lot in the next few years, they've had almost a decade to do something here and have only managed a parking garage. Five other downtown office towers have either been built or broken ground since they've been trying to build this thing.
  6. Gosh, what a ditsy voice. A little irritating to hear "Austin, Dallas, ... and Houston." I don't remember them mentioning a single thing that was happening in Austin. As to Pegasus Park, yeah, no TMC3, only advantage is that the buildings are already built and thus can be leased fast and cheap.
  7. I didn't see your response the other day. I have not met enough architects to have a really educated opinion. Johnson's personality does seem to be the trend for other superstar architects. Frank Lloyd Wright, for instance. What I like about Johnson is his passion. He travelled to see every important new building, especially in the early days of modernism (20's-30's). He was once asked in an interview, "How did you know you were an architect?", and he described visiting Chartres cathedral and the Parthenon at age 13 and being hit with overwhelming emotion, to the point where he was bawling, just sobbing. I like someone who can experience that and reveal it about themselves. Makes up for a lot of other faults.
  8. 4 Houston Center is 986,000 SF and sits on two full blocks. Using the land price per square foot from the Skanska land sale, the land is worth at least $56 million, probably a lot more given the better location. But just taking the $56 million, the building would have to be worth about $57/SF or less for them to demolish, probably more like $50/SF to cover demo cost and entrepreneurial incentive. Best comp for the building's value is probably 1111 Fannin, which sold last year for $69/SF, although this building is probably worth a bit more (but so is the land). So... yeah. In 10 years, as the building gets more obsolete and the land value goes up, this could be a redevelopment.
  9. The editorial reads like a press release. Doubt the Chronicle contributed much more than the title.
  10. Do you find that most architects are humble and unassuming?
  11. Office is worth more in this town than residential so they are going to give the office building the better location. Office tenants like their views too. Also, downtown office tenants demand access to the skywalk/tunnel system and value proximity to other buildings, so it helps for the office to be closer to the other office stock, even though tenants will have to walk through the Four Seasons tunnels to get anywhere else.
  12. Very cool. Makes it look like they've acquired/are planning to acquire the piece they didn't own of the southernmost block.
  13. I think that the canal will increase the value of the land to the point where Metro will sell it and move their bus barn someplace else. They are already losing about a third of their capacity from the lower buildings being demolished so they will most likely be looking elsewhere already to replace that capacity (although the graphic does show a new building along the northern part of the site). This Warehouse District project will also increase the value of the land by establishing the area for multi-family.
  14. Sam Houston Coliseum:Houston::3rd Madison Square Garden:New York
  15. I don't know why there is even a debate about the Astrodome. I don't see why it is controversial to preserve. I am also pretty sure it would be a functioning tourist attraction right now if it were not for the Texans and the Rodeo. I think Ed Emmett was willing to take them on and Lina Hidalgo isn't. It's not a fight that most people would want to have in their first or second term as judge. Some of those buildings you mention I am not sure pass cost/benefit analysis. Sam Houston Coliseum had some history but was pretty dated for its function. Location comes into play. New York is on its third or fourth iteration of Madison Square Garden. Some of those early iterations were pretty amazing structures with 100 times the history of Sam Houston Coliseum, but land on Madison Square is too precious a commodity to be taken up by a functionally obsolete arena (and yes, I do realize that the current MSG is not on Madison Square). POST might see the wrecking ball too at some point and I won't be chaining myself to the bulldozers.
  16. I'm not saying I love the building. But the giant cast-in-place concrete columns and beams are a type of construction we may not see again. The postal service didn't mess around when they built things. There's a sense of, "Let us think that when we build, we build forever" that you don't find in today's steel frame, tiltwall warehouses like that Amazon one that crumpled like a tin can. How many other existing warehouses in Houston do you think could support a rooftop deck without a ton of extra columns and reinforcement being added? The cast concrete exoskeleton of the office building is also something that evokes an era.
  17. Both buildings are historic. The Gulf moreso, obviously.
  18. Pennzoil and Gulf both have fairly good occupancy for downtown - Gulf is high 70's and Pennzoil is in the 60's%. Montrose Collective is $37-45/SF NNN but that is new construction, hard to compare. Ion might be a better comparison at $33-37/SF NNN. Different clientele, yes, to a point. A prospective tenant at POST gets a great view, a food hall, a sense of history, a downtown vibe. A prospective tenant at the Gulf building gets a great view, a food hall, a sense of history, a downtown vibe. Some differences remain... POST may be more of a blank slate for something offbeat, while at Gulf there is more the traditional office feel with lots of bank employees around you. Parking and traffic are big issues... maybe POST is easier to get in and out of for someone driving in on Washington?
  19. This was the featured article on Costar yesterday, at least for Texas-area subscribers (my subscription is through Dallas). So everyone in the Texas real estate world saw a nice big picture of the center atrium. The article was fairly in depth but not much that we didn't already know. Leasing the office will be challenging... they are asking $32/SF NNN. Compare that to Pennzoil Place at $28.50/SF NNN, the Gulf Building at $24.00/SF NNN, or for the history lover, a nice old gem like 917 Franklin for $24.00/SF Full Service (~$15.00/SF NNN). Where would you rather be? The article's focus on the Lius was something different from other articles I've read: Unlikely Duo When local Taiwanese-American developer Frank Liu, with Lovett Commercial, purchased the high-profile site in 2015, it drew some initial concern because his company is mostly known for building shopping centers and townhouses that are “neither ugly nor distinctive” and are “mostly inconspicuous despite their large numbers,” according to Texas Architect Magazine. Indeed, OMA’s partnership with Lovett Commercial is a bit like the fictional Homer Simpson character from "The Simpsons" marrying a super model, said Kirby Liu, director of development at Lovett Commercial and Frank Liu's son, at Post Houston’s grand opening in November. OMA’s international adaptive reuse projects include turning a Soviet-era restaurant into a contemporary art museum in Moscow and converting a distillery into a museum for Prada in Milan. Lovett Commercial beat out some bids from developers that wanted to demolish the project and start from scratch for the high-profile site. “This site after all stands alone as the key to unlock the urban potential of downtown. So perhaps there was a little disappointment when this once-in-a-generation opportunity fell into the hands of a developer whose primarily known for townhouses and strip centers and perhaps that disappointment was magnified when it became known that we wanted to preserve virtually the entirety of the complex,” said Kirby Liu. An interior shot of a the post office sorting room where letters served as locators in the warehouse. (OMA) Lovett Commercial bought the site at a time when global oil prices were collapsing and sending the commercial real estate market that tended to rely on energy tenants into a tailspin, with oil and gas companies shedding office space and fleeing pricey downtown leases. Two years later, Hurricane Harvey crashed into the city, flooding underground pipes that overwhelmed the former post office's sump pumps, flooding basements and destroying much of the building’s infrastructure, Kirby Liu said in an email to CoStar News. “To be honest, we were not immune from mounting public incredulity that we were chasing what seemed to be a project with all the odds stacked against it and inexperienced leadership at that," Kirby Liu said at the ceremony. "This is a manifestation of our collective hope in that true architecture is for everyone from every walk of life.”
  20. Thanks Montrose, that is a great article! Irony of ironies that what they thought was keeping downtown alive - replacing all those little buildings on Block 68 with a really big building - was just hurting it, from our perspective today. Look at the before and after on this link and decide which looks more interesting: http://www.houstontimeportal.net/milby-hotel.html This passage from the article is also painful to read: It was by far the largest plat on the block and for years had been the home of Montgomery Ward, until that department store moved to the suburbs in the early sixties. The rest of the block held odd-shaped little lots of no particular interest. The old Milby Hotel, weathered and forlorn, stood on the northwest corner, at Travis and Texas. On Texas, directly across from the Rice Hotel, were a liquor store, a newsstand, and the most popular lunch spot in town, Kelley’s Oyster Bar. Along Main, on the eastern side of the block, were a dozen tiny shops, all of which had seen better days, including a haberdashery, a furrier, a drugstore, a National Shirt shop, the Felix Mexican Restaurant, Thom McAn and Hanover shoe stores, a toy shop, and two jewelry stores. Horne was old enough to remember the row of stores as it had looked in the forties, when it was the prime retail location in all of Houston and the intersection of Main and Texas was perhaps the busiest corner in the state. In those days the shops catered strictly to the carriage trade, but now most of them were victims of suburban shopping malls and dealt in either secondhand goods or discount clothing. Horne had seen blocks like this before; they were all too common in downtown Houston in the sixties. Montgomery Ward’s evacuation seemed almost clairvoyant.
  21. When you think about it though, that is pretty much the word for what they do - a service. "Someday, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me."
  22. I guess the big question now is whether the attraction of the rooftop deck can continue to draw enough people to provide business to support the food court tenants, whose rent in turn supports the maintenance of the rooftop deck. Unless they can get some other things going.
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