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POST: 401 Franklin Post Office Site Redevelopment


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4 minutes ago, tigereye said:

Thread of my pics. Loved the way this renovation turned. Hoping the administration building becomes a boutique hotel. I still would also like Amtrak rail depot moved to the rear dock. Might draw even more crowds if a sky bridge or some direct path could be built linking UH Downtown to PostHTX. 

 

I said the same thing about Amtrak when I was there. I love how it opened up a whole new part of downtown. It’s a side I’ve never explored or thought much about. I think many people were thinking the same thing about the station though. I could def see some sort of connection in the near future. 

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13 hours ago, dbigtex56 said:

Although I haven't walked on the improved portion of Bagby St, this corner of downtown has always seemed vaguely hostile - a sort of no-man's land comprised of parking lots and uninviting buildings.
It's pedestrian unfriendly due to aggressive traffic, disorienting street patterns, and a lack of trees and landscaping. A person can't help but feel exposed and vulnerable.
For many of us, crossing a bayou on a narrow sidewalk with low railings (and just inches from speeding cars) is an activity to be avoided whenever possible. 
From all reports, this is a fabulous facility, and although it's only a short distance from other downtown attractions, I wish it wasn't located in one of those "you can't get there from here" areas.
Perhaps someday improvements will be made to allow for more balanced priorities between automotive, bicycle,  and pedestrian traffic. I should live so long.

I’m sorry to hear you don’t plan to live until 2023.  😒
 

i walked to and from Post yesterday and was surprised to find that it is much easier to walk to than has been suggested on this forum.  Sidewalks Congress St bridge are already pretty decent, with improvements coming.

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9 minutes ago, corbs315 said:

I went yesterday and thought it was neat. I have no idea what they plan to do with all the empty space. Then I see reddit comments like this and am a little concerned it's the prevailing opinion (and it was in the back of my mind too)

 

 

Screen Shot 2021-11-14 at 10.49.43 AM.png

I kinda agree with this opinion.  Might be a cool thing to take people visiting from out of town or to go see a show.  I don't see myself going there on the regular unless it's heavily programmed like Discovery Green.   

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11 hours ago, BeerNut said:

I kinda agree with this opinion.  Might be a cool thing to take people visiting from out of town or to go see a show.  I don't see myself going there on the regular unless it's heavily programmed like Discovery Green.   

It is a major amenity to me - 15 minute walk which is perfect for evenings. Also about 5-10 minutes to the performing arts district from Post so I will likely do pre-show dinners here. Realize it may be a little casual for others going to shows. The music venue builds inherent demand. Rufus du sol is sold out on Thursday/Friday.

It is a little far for lunches for office workers however.

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I'll be honest. I've never seen a stairs configured in this way. Definitely going to walk this next time I'm in town. Have any of you seen Inception? Its like that moment when Joseph Gorden-Levitt's character was showing Ellen Page...Elliot Page...ugh...whatever anyway, the Penrose Steps or infinite staircase, but then the illusion was broken to show that its all a trick and the stairs then separate. Pretty neat. 

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10 hours ago, Luminare said:

I'll be honest. I've never seen a stairs configured in this way. Definitely going to walk this next time I'm in town. Have any of you seen Inception? Its like that moment when Joseph Gorden-Levitt's character was showing Ellen Page...Elliot Page...ugh...whatever anyway, the Penrose Steps or infinite staircase, but then the illusion was broken to show that its all a trick and the stairs then separate. Pretty neat. 

It is Elliot Page, he changed it this year I believe.

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11 hours ago, Luminare said:

I'll be honest. I've never seen a stairs configured in this way. Definitely going to walk this next time I'm in town. Have any of you seen Inception? Its like that moment when Joseph Gorden-Levitt's character was showing Ellen Page...Elliot Page...ugh...whatever anyway, the Penrose Steps or infinite staircase, but then the illusion was broken to show that its all a trick and the stairs then separate. Pretty neat. 

They are cool. They look even more like an illusion from the second floor like @tigereye posted in his twitter pics. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I’m hoping to get back soon to POST since they had their grand opening. Anyone been back? How’s it looking like on non-opening weekend?

I can’t wait to get back and try some of the places that’ve opened up! (I’m a bit ramen fan, so Ramen Moto is one I’m really looking forward to)

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1 hour ago, samagon said:

I went during lunch on black Friday, it was busy.

Food was passable at the place I ate, view was stunning.

 

cy6iaHM.jpg

maybe it was just me, but the inside felt like a mall with no retail moved in, and all of the food court open. 

Nice pic samagon!

Yeah, when we went for the soft opening, I definitely got that impression, too. (Though there were a lot less of the restaurants open- I think only like half) 

I saw what looked like someone moving stuff into one of the office spaces in the Z-stairway area. I wonder if POST is having to compete with ION for tenants for their office space. 


In any case, I’m excited, and very curious, to see what they’ll do with the space in the next phases. What a unique project- I can’t wait to get back and check it out again!

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17 hours ago, nate4l1f3 said:

It really is a wasted opportunity not to have some sort of rooftop bar/beer garden. I’d be more willing to pay $15 for a drink if that’s the case. 

someone had mentioned that it looked like they had leasable space on the roof deck. my guess is that the vision is that a bar is going to option that, but for the premium they are asking none have bitten yet.

I think it's interesting they bill it as a park, and it is, but at the end of the day, it's an amenity of a business. in that HP article, you can see clearly in the photo of the couple that got engaged they were drinking some sparkling liquid poured from a wine like container. I mean, that was a special type thing, but if you allow someone to bring a bottle of wine up there to make an engagement that much more memorable, then what about someone just doing a date night? what about someone doing some casual drinking with friends? where is that acceptability line drawn?

I can't recall if I saw a sign that said 'no outside food or drink' but I would suspect that this is going to be a quick addition, unless I just missed the signs.

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17 hours ago, nate4l1f3 said:

It really is a wasted opportunity not to have some sort of rooftop bar/beer garden. I’d be more willing to pay $15 for a drink if that’s the case. 

IIRC there are plans for TWO rooftop bars eventually. But I can't recall now where I read that so don't believe everything you see on the internet.

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55 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

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.

 

The concert venue is also going to help draw people constantly. When I was in SF and Seattle, both of their markets weren't always busy. It was usually big events that drew crowds but otherwise the amount of people was sparse. 

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1 hour ago, j_cuevas713 said:

 

The concert venue is also going to help draw people constantly. When I was in SF and Seattle, both of their markets weren't always busy. It was usually big events that drew crowds but otherwise the amount of people was sparse. 

How often are concerts though?

 

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when I was in Seattle, Pike Place Market was packed. it was a Saturday morning so weekend made a difference I'm sure, but it was very busy.

Post401 (and those hoping that Houston becomes a tourist destination) could only hope to be as successful as Pike Place.

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12 minutes ago, samagon said:

when I was in Seattle, Pike Place Market was packed. it was a Saturday morning so weekend made a difference I'm sure, but it was very busy.

Post401 (and those hoping that Houston becomes a tourist destination) could only hope to be as successful as Pike Place.

Oh yeah for sure. I think with time it will. They will continue to add tenants. Future additions to the building will happen as well. 

 

15 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

How often are concerts though?

 

Pretty damn often. We aren't just talking about big names either. I'm sure it will host an array of artists continually. That's the whole reason they built it was to have a constant stream of people visiting the site and as an anchor to draw tenants. 

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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.

?url=http%3A%2F%2Fcostar-brightspot.s3.a 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.”

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Don’t Pennzoil and the Gulf building both suffer from pretty high vacancy rates? I’d be curious to see how much POST is asking for lines up with similar projects. Probably not something like Texas Tower, but a low or mid-rise new construction office building/ mixed use concept inside the loop? How much are asking rates for, say, Montrose Collective? 
 

I’m not an expert on any of this stuff by any stretch of the imagination, to be sure (nor do i play one on tv :P ) but I’d imagine someone who wants to lease office space in POST/one of the trendier new low/midrise buildings might be a different clientele than the people looking to rent in one of the towers in downtown/uptown/etc. 

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2 hours ago, BEES?! said:

Don’t Pennzoil and the Gulf building both suffer from pretty high vacancy rates? I’d be curious to see how much POST is asking for lines up with similar projects. Probably not something like Texas Tower, but a low or mid-rise new construction office building/ mixed use concept inside the loop? How much are asking rates for, say, Montrose Collective? 
 

I’m not an expert on any of this stuff by any stretch of the imagination, to be sure (nor do i play one on tv :P ) but I’d imagine someone who wants to lease office space in POST/one of the trendier new low/midrise buildings might be a different clientele than the people looking to rent in one of the towers in downtown/uptown/etc. 

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?

Edited by H-Town Man
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1 hour ago, arche_757 said:

Interestingly I’m having a time finding what makes it a national register building, NPS website keeps crashing for me.  Can anyone elaborate on what makes the Barbara Jordan Post Office of national significance?  Please.

For what it's worth, the searchable table here:

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/database-research.htm#table

indicates a local level of significance but not a state, national, or international level of significance. Area of significance is listed as "Architecture; Politics/Government", along with a listing date of 2/2/2018. The obvious conclusion to be drawn is that a site does not have to necessarily have national or even state-level significance in order to be listed.    

Edit: I searched the table for "Barbara Jordan" to locate the building.

Edited by mkultra25
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Thanks @mkultra25!  I found the database but couldn’t get it to load even after multiple attempts. I assume the traffic from HAIF was so great it was causing immense slowdowns for the NPS.

That is interesting that a building with local history would make it onto a national database.  I know the NPS is somewhat subjective in reviewing projects, but to me for a building to be on a national list of important buildings it really does require national importance.  That can be through either the history that took place, or history that was made by the building, or through the fantastic architecture it exhibits - like the Menil will eventually be on the NPS register.

That brings the question: which buildings do Houstonians feel strongly should belong on the national register?

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17 hours ago, arche_757 said:

That is interesting that a building with local history would make it onto a national database.  I know the NPS is somewhat subjective in reviewing projects, but to me for a building to be on a national list of important buildings it really does require national importance.  That can be through either the history that took place, or history that was made by the building, or through the fantastic architecture it exhibits - like the Menil will eventually be on the NPS register.

That brings the question: which buildings do Houstonians feel strongly should belong on the national register?

Knowing that there were at least a few Heights-area houses in the National Register, I went back to the database and searched for "Harvard", then scrolled down to Texas, expecting to find the late Bart Truxillo's house at 1802 Harvard. It was indeed there, but two things surprised me: 1) that it, like the former Post Office, was also listed as having only local significance, and 2) there are almost 20 other houses on Harvard listed in the Register, likewise flagged as being solely of local significance. 

The Truxillo house could be argued to have more than local significance, from the standpoint of being more architecturally-distinctive than the Post Office building, and being one of two remaining houses built by the original developers of the Heights. But the same can't be said for every other house on Harvard that's listed.

Downloading the data set via the link on that page is a much easier way to work with the data. It's a csv file that can be filtered by Texas/Harris County/Houston in Excel to show that there are 282 listings in Houston out of a total of 96,643 listings. 

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It will be interesting to read in: 10, 15, 20+ years the architectural guides regarding Post.  The transformative architecture OMA has rendered there (I’ve not been in person, this is judging from photos) is unique - not only here in Houston, but really anywhere in the States.  These sort of grand “civic” scape repurposed building projects seem to be more commonplace in Europe and Asia, so to have a large scale repurposing locally is really great.

Imagine a similar approach to the old convention center 25 years ago.

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On 12/18/2021 at 11:14 AM, arche_757 said:

What’s the historic part of the post office again?

The Gulf I certainly understand.  The other -to me- is a stretch.  I mean we’ve had a lot of fantastic buildings torn down here that are more substantial architecture, but whatever.

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.

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