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H-Town Man

Took a Walk Downtown Last Weekend

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Was in town the other day and decided to do my routine semi-annual stroll around around downtown. Didn't have too much time, so comments and observations will be fairly brief. I also don't have any sort of credentials or expertise other than a love of Houston and a lot of years spent following this stuff, so criticisms of my ideas are welcome.

Here are my thoughts, in no particular order:

806 Main renovation is about the best shot in the arm that Main Street could have right now. A blight source turned into a vibrant people place, and adding to the historic architecture. Hopefully they find a better solution to restoring the brick than painting it. They painted the brick on the Great Jones Building on the 700 block, and it's starting to look like an old woman with heavy makeup. Not a great longterm solution.

I think 806 Main will more than make up for the loss of Foley's, as much of a sentimental blow as that was. Foley's has lots of history and memories, but in terms of what it could offer for downtown urbanity, it was pretty much maxed out, thanks to the lack of windows. There was never much exciting about walking in; you always sort of felt like it was your charitable duty as a lover of local history. It was really the first suburban department store with its minimal exterior, and it happened to be built downtown. Architecturally it belongs more to the 50's-70's anti-urban era than to the early 20th century urban era. I'm cautiously optimistic about what replaces it.

The Melrose Bulding on Walker is a dragging blight in an otherwise rejuvenating era. BG Group Place is pulling everything around it up, but Melrose stands there emanating its weird smells, reminding us all of the old blighted 1980's downtown we know and remember. Rumors of a Texaco Building renovation are hopeful, but how many wealthy yuppies are going to want to see that thing out their window and mingle with its encampments of homeless when they walk outside? Would love to know who owns that block and what plans they have.

The other big turnaround for central downtown could be 609 Main. This block is another big hole that brings you down just when you were starting to enjoy the walk northward into the historic area. If this one's a go, it shouldn't be long before the Texaco renovation follows.

Texas Avenue... why don't more of our downtown planners talk about this street? It really has a ton of untapped potential as a delightful walk, with all the little buildings and mature trees on the north side heading towards the ballpark. It's also not burdened with all the parking garages that line Main. This could be a signature street.

Okay, like I said, it wasn't a long walk, although I guess my comments aren't as brief as promised (doesn't that always happen?)...

Edited by H-Town Man
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806 Main has white wood or some similar material going up on the brick.

 

The Texaco building doesn't draw many homeless, not nearly as many as, say, the convenience store at Main and Walker, where the Commerce Towers are thriving.

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I agree about the walk down Texas. I took some nice pictures of the ballpark from closer to chase tower. It is a scenic street.

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I like Texas St. too. There is a narrow vacant building next to the Magnolia that seems to have uncertain value, but apart from that, it is pretty great. The Federal prison building is fairly unobtrusive, but it always gives me a depressing vibe. I like the juxtaposition of the church across the street though, it is well kept and very peaceful. After 609 Main gets built and if Finger's ballpark place ever goes, there would only be 3-4 surface parking blocks to build on before you had attractive, complete urban development from the Bayou all the way to MMP.

 

Skip a block over to Prairie though and it is quite a bit rougher, but still improving.

 

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...if Finger's ballpark place ever goes, there would only be 3-4 surface parking blocks to build on before you had attractive, complete urban development from the Bayou all the way to MMP.

Does anyone have any information on this?  I have been wondering about this since I have not seen any work being done to the area in a while.

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