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Post HTX: 401 Franklin Post Office Site Redevelopment

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Lmfao BFS.. So yeah.. What other projects has Lovett done/what can we expect? This seems like a major let down..

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Go to their website!!  It may as well have been Weingarten.  Banal.  Beige.  Suburban. Blech....right up there with the Howard Hughes Corporation.  Major let down.

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http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/real-estate/article/Lovett-Commercial-under-contract-on-downtown-post-6369359.php

 

 

 

Conceptual plans are still being devised, but the company said it expects "to attract multiple uses such as retail, creative office, residential and/or a boutique hotel. Tenants that we have visited with are extremely excited about the project, its location and the possibilities."

 

Lovett is also exploring ways to reuse portions of the site's existing buildings, which sit on the northwestern edge of downtown, just north of Buffalo Bayou and across from the Theater District.

 

She said the plans are in line with the type of mixed-use development the partnership recommended more than a decade ago in a comprehensive master plan for the bayou.

 

One proposal called for converting the building to an artist and boutique office space known as "The Post." It had some 2,500 people living around the redeveloped building in new housing for all income levels.

 

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Hmmm...."artist and boutique office space." I like the notion of having 2,500 people live on the site, but think the space could be far better utilized with a demolition of that building.

I will wait for their proposal.

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The fact they are even thinking about keeping that building just means they have no idea what on earth they just bought.

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The fact they are even thinking about keeping that building just means they have no idea what on earth they just bought.

I may be alone but I secretly hoped whoever bought the property would some how incorporate the existing building into the project. Although that wish may be a double edged sword.

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I may be alone but I secretly hoped whoever bought the property would some how incorporate the existing building into the project. Although that wish may be a double edged sword.

 

Why though? That building utilizes the land in the worst possible way. Its a symbol of an era of mistakes and missed opportunities. Its not only a poor use of the land, but its a planning mistake from the word go! Keeping the building or reusing it severely limits the potential of the site by instantly making anything that gets built having to revolve around it. Its not even a very good building to begin with. Average at best. It isn't even unique to its own time. It interrupts what would be the best possible correction in the street grid which is to kill Franklin before the bayou and restore Washington as the primary link into the city. The site itself has a chance to be a gateway into downtown. As of right now its nothing but an afterthought.

 

Just watch the only thing they will do is keep the entire building as is and then place a few wraps around it and a few strip centers and call it a day! The city should have been more responsible and not give it to the highest bid (if it even was the highest) and instead give it to a group who would utilize it create something truly unique, a group who was giving the best value.

 

Maybe I'm the crazy one here...idk. I thought that this was a site that could hold the key to a new Houston with a new vision/mentality, but I guess not. Its nothing but business as usual. We been thinking that the city was moving forward when really (lets admit it) is only chasing the latest trend instead of being trendsetters. Whatever....In about 10-15 years they are going to start ripping up that elevated piece of highway junk and maybe that will also reveal just what they missed out on and maybe a real difference can be made. Why settle for mediocre? Why settle for just average?

 

Is this really how its all going to go down? Seriously? Is there nothing to persuade someone like a Hines or hell even Midway would at least make something decent out of it. These guys have nothing in their portfolio except for typical suburban bs. They have nothing in their portfolio that says they even know what they really have on their hands! Its like some kid got the keys to the car, but has no idea how to drive. All the kid can do is marvel at how awesome it is, but doesn't even know how to even start the dang car!

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Not sure why everyone is "let down." Lovett has done some fantastic redevelopment work. I think with everyone's expectations being so low now, they'll be impressed with whatever Lovett throws out there. Good strategy, Lovett... it's like the anti-Hotel-Alessandra strategy. Make people feel uncomfortable that it will be a shopping center and wow them with a crazy mixed-use development.

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I hope you're right Triton.. Lol. Btw, any examples of this "fantastic redevelopment work"?

Edited by cloud713

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I took a look at their portfolio they have listed for Houston on their website and yeah...mostly suburban type deals, but they have a decent amount of inner core stuff going on; biggest one is probably Sawyer Yards. It is pretty cool that they are converting some of those warehouses into art studios...but I'd rather they do it there than with the Post Office buildings.

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The potential redevelopment of the warehouse at Polk/Dowling also looks promising, though cant say fantastic until it comes to fruition, if the execution is good. I wouldn't imagine Liu would try to recreate a Sawyer/Washington "Heights" type spot here, I think it would be at least a few notches above that.

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A project this size seems way of scale for little old Lovett Commercial. I hope they know what they're doing.

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A project this size seems way of scale for little old Lovett Commercial. I hope they know what they're doing.

 

Honestly its way to big for any one developer to handle. The city should be carrying the responsibility of masterplaning the area and then divide up the various projects to many different developers. Thats how it should be done, but the city refuses to take any responsibility for any semblance of city planning.

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The land cost dictates it must be something more dense than a shopping center, because the income return on a shopping center is too low. What that is, I don't know. Hines built warehouses and small office buildings before he built the Galleria. Maybe this will be their Galleria. Probably not, but one can hope. I wonder if flood plain discouraged some bigger players?

Keep in mind, when I-45 is rerouted, the potential for this site completely changes. We really don't want anything too major being built there before then.

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The land cost dictates it must be something more dense than a shopping center, because the income return on a shopping center is too low. What that is, I don't know. Hines built warehouses and small office buildings before he built the Galleria. Maybe this will be their Galleria. Probably not, but one can hope. I wonder if flood plain discouraged some bigger players?

Keep in mind, when I-45 is rerouted, the potential for this site completely changes. We really don't want anything too major being built there before then.

 

Thats the only silver lining in all of this. The scale in terms of buildings they are looking at is very small, but its the "2,500 people" that just has me puzzled. Even a few wraps will not get you to that number. At most 2-3 wraps would only get you to about 500-1000. I still think they have no idea what they really have on their hands. Gerald Hines is a little different though. Even though he was small time he clearly hand a vision of Houston that others didn't have and he knew the best of the best at the time to do exactly what his vision was. I don't really see a visionary among this company unless someone can lead me the other way on this?

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On the other hand, I'm not sure a mult-story highrise would look good or 'fit' this area. It would really eff with the views coming in from the north frwy---not that any developer takes into account the 'view.'

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Why though? That building utilizes the land in the worst possible way. Its a symbol of an era of mistakes and missed opportunities. Its not only a poor use of the land, but its a planning mistake from the word go! Keeping the building or reusing it severely limits the potential of the site by instantly making anything that gets built having to revolve around it. Its not even a very good building to begin with. Average at best. It isn't even unique to its own time. It interrupts what would be the best possible correction in the street grid which is to kill Franklin before the bayou and restore Washington as the primary link into the city. The site itself has a chance to be a gateway into downtown. As of right now its nothing but an afterthought.

Just watch the only thing they will do is keep the entire building as is and then place a few wraps around it and a few strip centers and call it a day! The city should have been more responsible and not give it to the highest bid (if it even was the highest) and instead give it to a group who would utilize it create something truly unique, a group who was giving the best value.

Maybe I'm the crazy one here...idk. I thought that this was a site that could hold the key to a new Houston with a new vision/mentality, but I guess not. Its nothing but business as usual. We been thinking that the city was moving forward when really (lets admit it) is only chasing the latest trend instead of being trendsetters. Whatever....In about 10-15 years they are going to start ripping up that elevated piece of highway junk and maybe that will also reveal just what they missed out on and maybe a real difference can be made. Why settle for mediocre? Why settle for just average?

Is this really how its all going to go down? Seriously? Is there nothing to persuade someone like a Hines or hell even Midway would at least make something decent out of it. These guys have nothing in their portfolio except for typical suburban bs. They have nothing in their portfolio that says they even know what they really have on their hands! Its like some kid got the keys to the car, but has no idea how to drive. All the kid can do is marvel at how awesome it is, but doesn't even know how to even start the dang car!

I just think it's a cute building, that's all. :) It gave me a nice feeling when I went for my passport renewal.

It could be done very nicely (including the building). they could blend modern with this structure easily creating a "gateway" and fantastic project.

But I'll wait and see what they have in mind. It would be nice to see more residential with easy access to Downtown and the BB park. Some tall, good looking residential...

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I don't think I'll be happy if we don't see a nicely designed, but eye catching train station. This would be very nice foreground for downtown.

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You have to keep in mind, when getting angry with the city about this site. The city of Houston had nothing to do with it but bid on

the site, Which they withdraw. This is U.S Post Office property and the government chose the winner. Not the city of Houston.

As for Lovett winning, I'm disappointed and just sent a letter to Mr. Huffman expressing my disappointment. I also quoted him on his

statement about being so lucky to be awarded a sixteen acre site in downtown Houston.

I told him so don't screw it up with one of your suburban housing mixed use strip center style projects.

I told him how important this site was to the development of north Downtown and expecting much more than what they

have done in the past.

I doubt I'll hear back. I told him I was hoping for someone like Midway who I think has done and outstanding job with

City Centre.

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Maybe you should just wait until you have enough adequate information before you all get your panties in a wad. It could be anything at this point.

 

Thank you.

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Does anyone know what the sales price might be? At $100psf, it would be ~$70m. That would be a lot of money to tie up without a plan, especially for a smaller firm.

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Maybe they submitted a bid because they had a fantastical idea of what to put there, not expecting to actually get it...and then they got it

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Maybe they submitted a bid because they had a fantastical idea of what to put there, not expecting to actually get it...and then they got it

Seriously?

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To be fair to Frank Liu (head of Lovett Commercial) and as others have alluded, there was a time before Gerald Hines was big time. I think his first skyscraper was One Shell Plaza, and he had done nothing before that was over 5 stories.

This could be Mr. Liu's big break and a chance to show what his vision for Houston is.

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Maybe they submitted a bid because they had a fantastical idea of what to put there, not expecting to actually get it...and then they got it

Auctioneer: All right.. start the bidding at $60 million!

 

Midway: $80 million!!

 

Auctioneer: $80 million! Do I hear a $90 million? $90 million folks!

 

Lovett: Uhhh.... uhhh....$90 million!!

 

Auctioneer: Great Scott! $90 million. Do I hear a $100 million? Anybody? $100 million folks! Still at $90 million. Ok......Going once... going twice... sold, to Lovett in the back corner!

 

Lovett employee: S***. Oh no, we got the land!

 

Lovett CEO: My God, what have we done??

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The post office building could be repurposed into a new Union Station combining the HSR with Amtrak's little booth that's currently next door - after all, it's just about exactly on the footprint of the Southern Pacific station that was there beforehand, and the rail lines still run right behind it.  Getting the light rail to it wouldn't even be that bad - just turn the Green/Purple line up through the soon to be sold HPD compound. 

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To be fair to Frank Liu (head of Lovett Commercial) and as others have alluded, there was a time before Gerald Hines was big time. I think his first skyscraper was One Shell Plaza, and he had done nothing before that was over 5 stories.

This could be Mr. Liu's big break and a chance to show what his vision for Houston is.

 

Since you bring it up, I should probably mention that I happened to be sitting near Frank and his crew at Niko Niko's in Market Square the other day. I noticed him drawing something on a pad and talking eagerly about it to the other men. When he got up, he took the drawing, but he left the rest of the pad. I walked over and scribbled lightly on the pad with a pencil to pick up the outline of what he had drawn. I couldn't be totally sure, but it looked something like... this:

 

spirit_of_houston.jpg

 

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Since you bring it up, I should probably mention that I happened to be sitting near Frank and his crew at Niko Niko's in Market Square the other day. I noticed him drawing something on a pad and talking eagerly about it to the other men. When he got up, he took the drawing, but he left the rest of the pad. I walked over and scribbled lightly on the pad with a pencil to pick up the outline of what he had drawn. I couldn't be totally sure, but it looked something like... this:

spirit_of_houston.jpg

Out of all the horrific proposals, I'm glad this one never made it.
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Honestly its way to big for any one developer to handle. The city should be carrying the responsibility of masterplaning the area and then divide up the various projects to many different developers. Thats how it should be done, but the city refuses to take any responsibility for any semblance of city planning.

 

What makes you think the City has any capability whatsoever to lead the planning for this? And that's ignoring the fact that the City doesn't own the property or have any interest in the property, and thus has no say in how it gets developed, other than the effects of the relevant ordinances.

 

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Back to the topic, what I can see as being the most likely outcome for the site is something like Sawyer Heights, with maybe something like a mini-Target and a 5- or 6-floor apartment complex.  It's hard to see the location really justifying a high-rise or high-density development.  

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Back to the topic, what I can see as being the most likely outcome for the site is something like Sawyer Heights, with maybe something like a mini-Target and a 5- or 6-floor apartment complex. It's hard to see the location really justifying a high-rise or high-density development.

On the contrary, it is quite close to Market Square Park and the Theater District in addition to the ballparks. Freeway access is much less friendly than near Sawyer Heights. I think the developer would be well-served to emphasize density and walkability with respect to this development to attract the clientele that would pay a premium for it.

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The post office building could be repurposed into a new Union Station combining the HSR with Amtrak's little booth that's currently next door - after all, it's just about exactly on the footprint of the Southern Pacific station that was there beforehand, and the rail lines still run right behind it.  Getting the light rail to it wouldn't even be that bad - just turn the Green/Purple line up through the soon to be sold HPD compound.

It won't happen but man would it be so grand and smart. Connect all the light rails and maybe even commuter rails down the line and it could be Houston's version of Penn Station someday.

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I heard some disheartening news about this.. One of the big name companies looking to develop this site took soil samples and found contamination..

 

 

Yeah, definitely costly. They had to restructure/resubmit their bid to account for the added expenses.

yep.. Midway was who i was referring to.

Midway CEO Jonathan Brinsden said that the company had the property under contract, but negotiations fell through.

"Yes, we had it under contract at one point, and after a lot of due diligence, found there were some significant issues with the site," Brinsden said. "We ultimately, during our contract period, couldn't get to an agreement with the post office, and they decided to take it back out to the market."

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Most likely diesel, motor oil, and maybe cleaning chemicals. Lots of trucks in and out of that facility.

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No idea. I just heard from a former Midway employee that they would of had to do site remediation and it totally changed the structure/economics of their bid.

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I'm going to guess its contamination from both the post office trucks and equipment along with the site's previous occupant, the Southern Pacific depot. Think about it... All those trains, probably some sort of maintenance facility etc. There were two separate depots there dating back to the late 1800's.

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