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Capitol Tower by Skanska, formerly Houston Club Building

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There is some kind of parking garage retrofit going on with the work around the Milam/Capitol corner. 

 

In the discussion of the tunnel closure, I thought I recalled hearing that they were planning to build a new parking structure first, then the building, with the tunnel closed, then open, then closed again prior to final completion of the tower. 

 

Not sure where I read that though. 

 

EDIT: from an article Urbannizer linked:

 

 

Mair said Skanska has completed the first step of preparing the building for demolition. All tenants have vacated the decades-old structure, and workers have cleared out the interiors and removed asbestos.

The next step will be to accommodate those who continue to park in the building by moving the existing parking entrance so the tower portion of the building can be demolished. Then a new parking garage, which will be part of the new building, will be constructed.

Mair said the tunnel will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.

When the company decides to start construction on the new tower - Skanska still has not said when that will be - the tunnel could close again, "at least in part, until we can safely get above ground with construction activity," Mair said.

 

Edited by Nate99

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So they could tear down the building, leaving half the lot a parking garage and half the lot a surface parking lot. I was thinking they were moving forward with the whole project, but it looks like it's phased. Are they not going to be closing the tunnel for like 2 years? Seems like a long time to just build/repurpose a garage.

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Construction starts Q4 2014 and finishes Q1 to Q2 2016.

 

Edit: Difficult to show my proof but I'll see if Urbannizer can post it. It would be best if I could get in image form really.

Edited by Triton
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Hotel Alessandra? In that the GreenStreet/HP bolt on? 

 

Sure is!

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They're pouring concrete at the Capitol/Main corner today, presumably for the new garage entrance. 

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They're pouring concrete at the Capitol/Main corner today, presumably for the new garage entrance. 

 

I think you mean Milam, not Main.  One lane of traffic is closed on the Travis side.

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I think you mean Milam, not Main.  One lane of traffic is closed on the Travis side.

 

I did indeed, good catch. My last pic shows the closed lane on Travis. 

 

With the port-a-potties, it looks like a staging area for the rest of the demo. 

 

Edited by Nate99

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Demolition of the mural:

 

photo-e1395098375334-600x450.jpg

 

 

An excerpt from Lord’s recent blog post:

“Sellers’ third downtown mural, the 41-foot-by-94-foot Muted Hues of History, is her most famous. Completed in May 2000, it enlivens the Capitol Avenue and Milam Street wall of the 1956 Houston Club Building with its homage to Houston history (the fourth City Hall to sit in Market Square Park, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, First Methodist Church, the downtown skyline dominated by the 1929 Gulf Building, and row houses in Houston’s historic wards) and industry (oil, cotton, and the Port of Houston). “Historically, I wish to represent Houston during the early part of the 20th century, when Houston was really taking off,” said Sellers.”

A few years ago, Sellers’ 1998 mural depicting a market scene on the side of the Treebeard’s building on Market Square was lost when structural repairs were made to the wall. It’s now the site of a Houston scene by graffiti artistGonzo 247.

Sellers’ original mural from 1994 remains: a trompe l’oeil scene of downtown buildings painted onto two sides of a historic building at 1621 Milam.

Because the mural is painted directly on the brick exterior of the building, it will not be moved to another location, said Shelby Adams of Skanska USA. The Skanka team was able to safely remove a tile replica of the wall mural painted by the artist that was also in the building (pictured) and plans to give it to the artist.

Demolition of the building has begun and will continue through the end of the year, according to Skanska USA.

Source: Link

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Demo will continue through the end of the year?!

 

I'm guessing that they're slow rolling it while shopping for tenants. 

Edited by Nate99
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what is that???

 

New ramp for the parking garage that they are making out of the Capitol St. side of the building. They are apparently demolishing the side of the building that currently contains the parking entrance first. 

 

This is an odd project to say the least. I'm trying to get my head around how the economics work that would justify that kind of new structure for a temporary solution. 

 

I guess parking garages make a lot of money. 

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New ramp for the parking garage that they are making out of the Capitol St. side of the building. They are apparently demolishing the side of the building that currently contains the parking entrance first. 

 

This is an odd project to say the least. I'm trying to get my head around how the economics work that would justify that kind of new structure for a temporary solution. 

 

I guess parking garages make a lot of money. 

 

Yes, parking garages are a license to steal, so making money while the demo work goes on keeps the bosses happy.

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From what I understand they had a contract for parking X number of cars that couldn't be broken.  This is the solution that allows them to demo half the building and build the new garage, then demo this structure and build the tower.

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From what I understand they had a contract for parking X number of cars that couldn't be broken.  This is the solution that allows them to demo half the building and build the new garage, then demo this structure and build the tower.

 

That is a reasonable explanation to why they are doing it this way. Still seems like a lot of money to be spending for a tower that may not happen... It leads me to believe that this one will in fact, go up. I've said this before, but it seems like the new standard is to build a project with or without the tenants - with the expectation they will come - or else the project may never happen.

 

Seems to be happening - "if you build it, they will come"

1. 609 Main - Hines (Summer 2014)

2. 6 Houston Center - Cresant (Summer 2014)

3. Capitol Tower - Shanska (Early 2015)

4. Chevron Tower 3 - ? (Mid 2015)

 

Waiting on a lead tenant - "the tenant that never came due to too many options UC"

1. 5 Allen Center

2. International Tower

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From what I understand they had a contract for parking X number of cars that couldn't be broken.  This is the solution that allows them to demo half the building and build the new garage, then demo this structure and build the tower.

 

I'm leaning more toward thinking the building is a "go" because of this too. If there were not a compelling reason to start construction now, I would imagine that they would just delay any demolition until the old parking contracts expire. I guess the economics for the building still work with the added cost of this retrofit. 

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That is a reasonable explanation to why they are doing it this way. Still seems like a lot of money to be spending for a tower that may not happen... It leads me to believe that this one will in fact, go up. I've said this before, but it seems like the new standard is to build a project with or without the tenants - with the expectation they will come - or else the project may never happen.

Seems to be happening - "if you build it, they will come"

1. 609 Main - Hines (Summer 2014)

2. 6 Houston Center - Cresant (Summer 2014)

3. Capitol Tower - Shanska (Early 2015)

4. Chevron Tower 3 - ? (Mid 2015)

Waiting on a lead tenant - "the tenant that never came due to too many options UC"

1. 5 Allen Center

2. International Tower

You really think Chevron Tower 3 does not have a tenant??

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I can't find the original topic so can a mod please merge topics for me? I noticed today that they seem to be building some sort of frame on the existing Houston Club site as they demo the building. Are they building as they demo? I've never seen anything like this before.

Edited by j_cuevas713

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Just a few threads down.

 

I tried to take a picture of it. I know exactly what you're talking about.

 

Edit: Well, there are two different frames. They are building what appears to be an extension of the parking garage on Milam. On Travis, they are setting up a metal frame to, I guess, protect pedestrians and vehicles from the Houston Club demo. It's a very bizarre process.

Edited by Triton

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I can't find the original topic so can a mod please merge topics for me? I noticed today that they seem to be building some sort of frame on the existing Houston Club site as they demo the building. Are they building as they demo? I've never seen anything like this before.

 

Merged.

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Seeing the frame for the parking garage that will be there for a year or two go up, I must now accept the "parking contract that can't be broken" theory posted a couple weeks ago.  That must be one insane (and very carefully assigned) contract for the buyout numbers not to work, given that they were able to buy out the Houston Club with its nearly Panama Canal lease term at a rate set when Ike was President.

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Seeing the frame for the parking garage that will be there for a year or two go up, I must now accept the "parking contract that can't be broken" theory posted a couple weeks ago.  That must be one insane (and very carefully assigned) contract for the buyout numbers not to work, given that they were able to buy out the Houston Club with its nearly Panama Canal lease term at a rate set when Ike was President.

 

I'm with you on this one. 

 

Some combination of ironclad parking contracts and buying time to find tenants while initial demolition commences must make this make sense, but these modifications are expensive and temporary. It would be interesting to see how many spaces the temporary garage setup will have, then you could back in to how much cash their getting over the term. Seems a long shot that it would even cover the cost to build the ramps, never mind operate the thing for 2-4 years. 

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I hadn't wandered through that section of the tunnels in the last week or so, but today I noticed that the giant "SKANSKA" signage and some other artifacts are now removed.  

 

See ya, pretty much the last stairs in the tunnels that can't be easily bypassed.  IIRC, that will leave only Two Houston's spiral connection to 1001 McKinney and 801 Travis to Pearl's JW Marriott a-birthin'.

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Great stuff Urb... I can't help but think this building belongs somewhere out on I 10 or the West Belt... That said, it will be a nice addition when done.

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This building will be mostly hidden from view though regardless of angle you're looking at downtown, right?

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Yes, for the most part it will be hidden. Will look good at street level though, especially with the lighting effects, reflections, and so on.

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See ya, pretty much the last stairs in the tunnels that can't be easily bypassed.  IIRC, that will leave only Two Houston's spiral connection to 1001 McKinney and 801 Travis to Pearl's JW Marriott a-birthin'.

 

It will be interesting to see if they dig out level to the Chase Tower's tunnel level to avoid that grade separation. If they do, they will still have a large jump up to get up to the Esperson building and Pennzoil's level.  With enough length, I guess they could plan for ramps to replace though, and they may have to do so to stay ADA compliant

 

It looks like the JW Marriott's tunnel connection is being worked on currently. Something changed down there between last week the previous time that I walked that part of the tunnels. 

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Esperson, Pennzoil, and Chase Tower are all roughly six feet lower than the current Houston Club tunnel level - only the old Chase Building (Gulf Building if you're old enough) is at roughly the same level (Pennzoil has a gentle ramp).  With Houston Club's current low ceiling heights, I'd be more surprised if they didn't dig it down further.  ADA compliance is just a (required) lagniappe. 

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Esperson, Pennzoil, and Chase Tower are all roughly six feet lower than the current Houston Club tunnel level - only the old Chase Building (Gulf Building if you're old enough) is at roughly the same level (Pennzoil has a gentle ramp).  With Houston Club's current low ceiling heights, I'd be more surprised if they didn't dig it down further.  ADA compliance is just a (required) lagniappe. 

 

 

Maybe I have it backwards. I thought that you had to go up a few stairs to get to Esperson (through the really narrow corridor) out of HC, perhaps it is down.  I never noticed the slope down to Pennzoil, not that I doubt you on that, I can't even get the direction of stairs correct.  

Edited by Nate99

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Esperson, Pennzoil, and Chase Tower are all roughly six feet lower than the current Houston Club tunnel level - only the old Chase Building (Gulf Building if you're old enough) is at roughly the same level (Pennzoil has a gentle ramp).  With Houston Club's current low ceiling heights, I'd be more surprised if they didn't dig it down further.  ADA compliance is just a (required) lagniappe. 

 

The depth differences presumably derive from the fact that the tunnel system wasn't really planned.  I think the first section was underneath Capitol between what is now the Houston Club building and the Chase Tower (if someone has more detail please post) and at that time it would never have been envisioned as part of a network encompassing most of downtown.  Bits were more or less hooked up on an ad hoc basis for many years.  The tunnel system never seems to get a lot of positive press, but one thing that I've always enjoyed about it is how the lack of uniformity and oddball layout shows its organic growth over time.  Same thing applies to IAH.

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Old lore I heard was that Jesse Jones built what is now the Houston Club building (for the time being, at least) in part to house back room functions of what was then the National Bank of Commerce, the main part of which was housed in what was then the Gulf Building across the street - hence the flat tunnel.  

 

I've been a mole person for decades and have also enjoyed the organic growth of the tunnel system.  Way back when, the tunnel level under 919 Milam was not a food court, but instead went past the building's boilers and mechanical systems, with big windows to allow spectating upon them.  The last vestige of that particular kind of archaeology is under Neils Esperson, on the way to 801 Travis.

 

BTW, back on topic - the temporary garage ramps also cause me to add credence to the idea that the Capitol Tower will be built. I don't have any way to know the numbers, but logic dictates that mothballing the rest of the building and just operating the parking garage could likely be done economically on its own, without the added drama of demolition.

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I read somewhere that there was a lot of interest in 609 Main, and that's why the floor count rose to 49 when initially it was lower than that, like 41 I think.  Since it's going to be 3 years before it is finished, I assumed any tenant signings will be all hush-hush for now.

 

Avossos, you should create a new thread concerning this planned tower in the galleria that you were told about, just a suggestion.

 

Sorry to be off topic.

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This is exactly my thought. This is just a whole lot of effort to go to for nothing. So much money being spent for the garage arrangement.

Also,Shanska build the Uptown / Galleria building with 0 tennants... and then they sold it / is now leased. They may have a similar attitude with this building. 6 Houston Center may have adopted the same philosophy. 609 Main probably has someone interested already.

This is off topic, but a Hines employee told me that a building taller than Transco (Williams) is planned for the Galleria...................

Keep in mind that it is much easier for Sanska to build on spec than it is for other developers. Stanska doesn't borrow any money, they just invest profits from the construction side of the business.

If you're borrowing money, you have to (a) convince the banks that there's little market risk, and (B) be willing and able to start paying off the loan as soon as the building is done, even it it's empty and it generates no income.

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You can kind of see it in Nates picture but they are starting to wrap the building in metal framing that looks like scaffolding. I can't tell what it is though, because even though it was about 10 floors up on the Travis side it didn't have any decking for workers to perch. This is such an interesting development due to the wacky way they are going about it!

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