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1111 Travis/Block 256 Office Tower, Formerly Macy's

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There was a fairly detailed discussion of proposals for the Macy's/Foley's building in the retail master plan the CultureMap article discusses.

This rendering is a lot better looking than I had hoped for. I hope it is in the works.

Edited by Houston19514
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I suppose the idea here is to have a smaller space dedicated to the Macy's store and use the upper floors for office space. In the rendering it looks like the store occupies three floors.

Lol at the face on the side of the building. That is a bit of an architectural rendering cliche now, like searchlights pointed at the sky.

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Wow, I'm really getting the impression Houston is stepping in to a new phase of development. This is the early 1900's NYC era for Houston. Even with all the new shiny toys Dallas has built, Houston maintains a true sense of organic growth and urbanism that surpasses the lack of authenticity Dallas is creating. So impressed with where Houston is headed.

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Sadly, I don't think this redevelopment will happen. It was a dream.

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The project will happen. The owner of Hilcorp, Jeff Hildebrand the 59th richest American, is wanting to add 5 stories above the revitalized Macy's and move the company there.

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The project will happen. The owner of Hilcorp, Jeff Hildebrand the 59th richest American, is wanting to add 5 stories above the revitalized Macy's and move the company there.

Awesome news. Are you a Hilcorp employee? Any idea of a timeline? Where are their current offices and would these 5 floorss be an expansion for them?

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I hope that is true. This would be another huge improvement for downtown (and hopefully a new owner would be able to figure out a way to get rid of the pigeons or at least regularly clean up after them).

Hilcorp is currently at 1201 Louisiana.

One note: Motis B Totis said above that Hilcorp wants to "add" five stories. I don't think that is quite accurate. The building is already 10 stories tall. As shown in the renderings, Macy's would consolidate to the bottom four floors (and surely, eventually Macy's will be smart enough to put some retail space at tunnel level as well). The top 5 would become office space. The rendering shows a gym on the 5th floor.

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If you click on the project name, it gives more detail about the project; not much more than we know now, however

Conversion and remodeling of an existin 10 story Macy's Store into corporate office space, retail space and a smaller Macy's department store.

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Ya i guess "adding floors" sounded dumb but I spoke to a Hilcorp employee recently and they said he is pretty quiet about his investments and is probably way out in the future. The employees haven't heard anything yet only what was found on the internet. So...false alarm i guess.

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The story is that Hilcorp isn't anywhere near to making a decision about the property. The rendering was a marketing concept, not a real project.

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That sucks! Well I still believe in the next 5 yrs something will be done. The urban transformation of Houston is bound to bring new revitalized concepts like this in to actual reality.

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Sucks but I can't say I'm entirely surprised. I actually shop there more than at any of the other Macy's as it's the closest one to my house since the Northwest Mall store closed.

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Not sure if this is true, but I worked with a lady who worked in the finance department at Foleys right before the Macy's take over and she mentioned that the downtown location was the one of the most profitable stores since they owned the building and didnt have any lease/rent expenses. Sounds like this might be one of those Astroworld type closures where the land/building asset sale is too good to pass up.

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The Mayor wrote a statement that gives me a little hope.

Macy’s real estate group in Cincinnati elected to close the downtown Houston location because of future plans for the store block, but they continue to believe that the Houston downtown area is a highly desirable location for an urban store. Since early this year, the Downtown District has been working closely with Macy’s, the property owner 1110 Main Partners LP and the Mayor’s Office to identify potential sites downtown for redevelopment or new construction.

“After further investigation by the building’s owner, no financially feasible scenario was found for maintaining a smaller store in the old structure,” said Bob Eury, Executive Director for the Houston Downtown Management District. “A new location is our only option, and quite frankly, a new, smaller store will bode better for downtown in the long run.”

The task force will report to Andrew F. Icken, Chief Development Officer for the Mayor, and will be chaired by Fred Griffin of Griffin Partners. Members include Eury; Jonathan Brinsden with the Midway Companies, owner of Houston Pavilions; George Levan, President of Crosspoint Properties; Doug Kelly with 1110 Main Partners LP; The Finger Companies’ Marvy Finger; Dawn Ullrich, President of Houston First Corporation; Ed Wulfe of Wulfe & Co; and Xavier Pena and Deborah Keyser of the Downtown Redevelopment Authority

http://blog.chron.com/primeproperty/2013/01/downtown-macys-to-close/

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Hopefully they will stick to downtown proper, but for some reason I doubt that they will.

And if they do, I really, really hope they do not neglect the new store like they have done with this Macy's - it's sad to think that they thought they will be able to meet any sort of expectations by neglecting the store

Edited by arrodiii

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I was just thinking about the Pavilions too. I hope they don't move in there, but I guess it seems logical.

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I wonder what they'll do with the bunker/fallout shelter beneath Foley's/Macy's?

By 1968, the government’s focus had shifted to public shelters, and the city had 464 fallout shelters. The largest was in the basement of the Foley’s at 1110 Main, which could hold nearly 39,000 people. There were also shelters under City Hall and underground where the Hobby Center is today.

http://www.houstontx.gov/savvy/archives/spring06/spg06_heritage.htm

Edited by rsb320

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Can't say this is all that surprising. It's sad for nostalgic reasons, but old-style department stores in general are hurting, and middle-market ones like Macy's are in an especially tough position. Given the unsuitability of the structure for redevelopment this was probably inevitable. I'm more upset over losing the Houston Club building, if for no other reason than architectural merit.

The good news is that it sounds like they are planning some kind of new development on the site, instead of surface parking.

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No one fear, all about econonics people! You seriously think that this report from the Chronicle is news? Lets figure some things out, this forum was created because we assumed that the downtown Macys would soon be renovated in to this incredible glass structure. Then we find out that was all just some "concept" thrown around. Then we see this today in the paper. Houston is booming, and if we think this is somehow a disappointment then we aren't realizing how valuable downtown is becoming. All the renovations, and planning by our city leaders is creating a high dollar area. I honestly believe we are about to see a ton of businesses downtown like never before. I find it very weird how we stumble across a rendering of a smaller store with office space above it and then this happens. I think the city has been planning much more than we expect.

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j_cuevas713, I don't disagree with you in principal, and certainly not in optimism, because I like the idea, and I'm an optimist about downtown and the surrounding areas (specifically to the east of DT).

However, before they can draw a high dollar crowd, they have to do something about the homeless issue. Educate the people they are trying to attract, move the homeless, or something else, but people are not going to go downtown to visit an Apple store when the entryway smells of urine, and they are uncomfortable with the homeless person asking them for spare change.

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j_cuevas713, I don't disagree with you in principal, and certainly not in optimism, because I like the idea, and I'm an optimist about downtown and the surrounding areas (specifically to the east of DT).

However, before they can draw a high dollar crowd, they have to do something about the homeless issue. Educate the people they are trying to attract, move the homeless, or something else, but people are not going to go downtown to visit an Apple store when the entryway smells of urine, and they are uncomfortable with the homeless person asking them for spare change.

Works for Chicago.

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I did go to that Macy's today to figure out if I was going to want any big ticket items once the closeout sale starts. No joke, 100% truth, as I walked up I had to jump over the spreading puddle of piss from a homeless guy directly across the street peeing behind a planter. This was 2 hours ago. 12:30. On Main Street in the middle of rush hour.

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Figured maybe it was time this should have its own topic. Seems things are moving forward with a new commercial property that Macy's currently occupies downtown. According to the article, Macy's is closing and the building will be torn down and replaced with a new commercial building.

http://blog.chron.co...o-close/#9183-5

Edited by wxman

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If the replacement building isn't impressive, then it would be a waste. The article also mentioned that a new Macy's store is a possibility. Houston Pavilions? Books A Million spot extended to the next block? Just a thought.

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Perhaps this rendering is legit as to what will replace Macy's. There is nothing which indicates it is a rendering of a "remodeled" Macy's.

post-1403-0-31099700-1357255173.jpg

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Perhaps this rendering is legit as to what will replace Macy's. There is nothing which indicates it is a rendering of a "remodeled" Macy's.

Except for the Macy's logo in the middle. I wonder if Macy's will take up the old Books-A-Million space? It would look bad for Downtown to lose another retailer and hurt what they are trying to build there.

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Except for the Macy's logo in the middle. I wonder if Macy's will take up the old Books-A-Million space? It would look bad for Downtown to lose another retailer and hurt what they are trying to build there.

That would be great, and quite pratical. It's a shame that we are losing one of the few viable options to shop at not only Downtown but along the lightrail routes that will be constructed for the forseeable future. I wish the MD or the city could've worked out some sort of financial incentives to keep them open, at least until a new location downtown could be determined.

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I guess if Macy's did want to take the Books A Million spot they could always expand beyond current walls considering the rest of that first floor side of the block is completely vacant.

Edited by fatesdisastr

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According to the article, it looks like a new office TOWER is going in that location.

...The owner of the building is planning to tear down the 10-story structure and develop an office tower in its place, Mayor Annise Parker said Thursday afternoon, addressing the store's closure and announcing a new plan to increase retail in downtown....

Edited by wxman

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Note two Macy's topics merged. Since at this point nothing is announced as 'Going Up' the combined topic is in the downtown section.

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The Houston Chronicle's article on it - for those who don't have a subscription to the paid articles:

Landmark Store Leaves Rich Legacy By David Kaplan

January 4, 2013

Traveling by car and bus, people rich and poor came to visit the department store at 1110 Main. They'd shop, eat, explore and take in the buzz of a city.

But Houston's way of life has changed and the store - originally Foley's and now Macy's - is no longer a hub of activity. The city's vast retail landscape now includes malls, shopping centers and big-box stores scattered everywhere. Other Macy's around town do far better business.

Now, the once-celebrated downtown department store may meet the wrecking ball. Its parent company announced Thursday that it will shutter the store and five others nationwide.

If the building is demolished, it will leave behind a rich legacy.

In decades past, "retail shopping was the glue that held downtown together," said Bruce C. Webb, professor at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture at the University of Houston.

National attention

Going to a downtown department store was "a bigger deal" than shopping in a mall is today, Webb said. It involved "seeing everything in the world" in the store, eating, possibly taking in a movie nearby, walking around downtown and looking in other store windows, he said.

And Webb recalls that the Foley's windows "were wonderful at Christmas."

centerpiecewide.jpg

Micheal Boddy, HP Staff Houston Post files

11/19/1984 - Foley's brings back animated windows for the Christmas season. Pedestrians pass by the "Land of Snow" scene from the Nutcracker Ballet. Each of the four windows on Main Street displays a different stage set with animated characters from the Nutcracker Ballet. Micheal Boddy / Houston Post

"The thought of it being torn down is scandalous to me, considering the quality of the building and its cultural history," Webb said. Noted architect Kenneth Franzheim designed the building and worked with legendary designer Raymond Loewy.

When it opened in 1947, the downtown Foley's got the nation's attention. Some 200,000 people showed up for the grand opening, an event covered by national media from the New Yorker to Popular Science.

"The downtown Foley's was considered a futuristic store that would reshape downtown retail merchandising," said Rice University history professor John Boles.

A modern marvel

People marveled at a windowless, air- conditioned structure with conveyer belts running throughout the store and into the parking garage, he said.

"It was so large and innovative and people were stunned it would be built in a city they didn't know much about," Boles said. "It was Houston's first big iconic building and helped shape an image of Houston as a bigger, bolder, futuristic kind of city."

The Shamrock Hotel and Astrodome would reinforce that image, he said.

Beginning in 1950, Santa would land at Union Station and ride his sleigh to the downtown Foley's building to kick off the Foley's Thanksgiving Parade, a 44-year-long tradition.

The downtown store, like the city around it, would be affected by social change. For example, in 1970 a group of women marched to Foley's to protest its male-only Men's Grill, one of several eateries in the store.

'It's terrible'

On Thursday, customers were disappointed to hear of the store's closing. "It's terrible," said Sherry Gross, an executive assistant who lives in the suburbs but works downtown. "I think it's sad a city this large is losing its only big retail store downtown - the only place for the downtown worker to shop, unless you're Forever 21."

Retiree Gladys Redmond began shopping in Foley's decades ago when she'd ride to downtown to transfer buses for her job. She is still a customer.

"This is where I go," she said. "I'll just find it in Macy's." Redmond uses MetroLift for transportation now, and isn't sure which Macy's she'll try next.

She was at the store looking out the window with her great-granddaughter. "I used to take her father here, too," Redmond recalled.

Lost landmarks

Five Houston landmarks that fell to the wrecking ball:

Metropolitan Theater, 1973: One of downtown's grand, 1920s-style movie houses, the Metropolitan had an Egyptian theme.

Shamrock Hotel, 1987: Oilman Glenn McCarthy's hotel brought Hollywood star power to the city, but financial problems proved insurmountable.

Fourth Ward, 1990s: Shotgun-style houses in this traditionally African-American neighborhood west of downtown yielded to upscale townhomes and apartments over a period of time.

AstroWorld, 2005: Houstonians of a certain age still lament the demolition of this amusement park that operated off the South Loop for 37 years.

Prudential Building, 2012: Stylish 1950s-era office building featured curved walls paneled with tropical wood, copious amounts of Chiaro marble and an Olympic-size swimming pool.

Source: Chronicle archives, architectural historian Stephen Fox, Greater Houston Preservation Alliance's book, "Houston Deco"

Read more: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/Landmark-store-leaves-rich-legacy-4166138.php#ixzz2H1H6fUY2

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Another lost landmark the article leaves out is the Lamar Hotel, which you can see across the street in the photograph. It was demolished in April 1985, not long after the picture was taken.

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According to the article, it looks like a new office TOWER is going in that location.

...The owner of the building is planning to tear down the 10-story structure and develop an office tower in its place, Mayor Annise Parker said Thursday afternoon, addressing the store's closure and announcing a new plan to increase retail in downtown....

It maybe worth noting that 1110 Main Partners owns the Macy's Block, as well as the Macy's Garage & the Americana Building on the the adjacent block. That's 2 city blocks in the center of Downtown. And only Subway is left open now (everything else has been closed)

One can only wonder what they'd need 2 city blocks for...

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It maybe worth noting that 1110 Main Partners owns the Macy's Block, as well as the Macy's Garage & the Americana Building on the the adjacent block. That's 2 city blocks in the center of Downtown. And only Subway is left open now (everything else has been closed)

One can only wonder what they'd need 2 city blocks for...

Just saw the same thing.

I seem to recall reading that the rest of the Americana building is empty as well. A replacement development could be another Houston Center type with a bridge over the street, but I would imagine, unless tenants are locked up for something huge that they would build on the blocks one at a time.

Sitting empty, the Macy's/Foley's building is going to look like hell in short order.

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