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Post HTX: 401 Franklin Post Office Site Redevelopment

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Frank Liu is also developing that EPA superfund site, isn't he? If so, he might not be as averse to handling potential environmental clean-up prior to development.

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It was more of an issue with the foundation is what I'm told.  There are tiebacks in place now for the Bayou, and Midway woud have had to replace all of the tiebacks to bring them up to code with their proposal.  I heard that Midway went to the city to seek a discount for the replacement cost, and the city rejected.

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Okay HAIFers, figure me this. It sounds like the site issues make major redevelopment cost prohibitive at this point in time. So we're left with the existing structures. Based on some quick Google Earth measurements, that building has about 215,000 SF of warehouse space. So what do you do with that much space? You make it into a market. Something like Boston's Faneuil Hall, Philadelphia's Reading Terminal, Seattle's Pike Place Market, San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf/Pier 39, or smaller markets in New Orleans or San Antonio.

Markets in downtowns are big tourist attractions. They give people of all ages and walks of life a reason to go downtown on weekends when there's no baseball game. They're fun and they make people happy. You can't walk through a market hall without smiling at least once. And right now the country is experiencing sort of a "market moment," with the new trend of food markets that sell gourmet and organic food items (these are more than just farmers' markets, although that could be a component too). I think the best example to imitate would be Reading Terminal.

1280px-Reading_Terminal_Market_center_co

Call it "Old Post Office Market," or just "The Post Office." Put creative loft office space in the office building. Plant some trees in the parking area, and spruce up the bridges leading into downtown, to encourage foot traffic to and fro. Combine restaurants, retail, and gourmet foods to take home, possibly fresh produce also. You really don't have to do too much, since the infrastructure is already in place for truck deliveries. Above all, keep as much vintage look of a 50+ year old building as you can.

I know something like this was tried with Mercado del Sol, but that was a terrible location, and a terrible era for downtown. Downtown's in a much different place now than it was then, and I think this would hit the cusp of a wave of revived interest, as all these other projects get finished.

1280px-RdgTrmnlMkt2014.jpg
 

Edited by H-Town Man
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^^^ would love to have something of this magnitude in houston... wow / yummy!

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Okay HAIFers, figure me this. It sounds like the site issues make major redevelopment cost prohibitive at this point in time. So we're left with the existing structures. Based on some quick Google Earth measurements, that building has about 215,000 SF of warehouse space. So what do you do with that much space? You make it into a market. Something like Boston's Faneuil Hall, Philadelphia's Reading Terminal, Seattle's Pike Place Market, San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf/Pier 39, or smaller markets in New Orleans or San Antonio.

Markets in downtowns are big tourist attractions. They give people of all ages and walks of life a reason to go downtown on weekends when there's no baseball game. They're fun and they make people happy. You can't walk through a market hall without smiling at least once. And right now the country is experiencing sort of a "market moment," with the new trend of food markets that sell gourmet and organic food items (these are more than just farmers' markets, although that could be a component too). I think the best example to imitate would be Reading Terminal.

1280px-Reading_Terminal_Market_center_co

Call it "Old Post Office Market," or just "The Post Office." Put creative loft office space in the office building. Plant some trees in the parking area, and spruce up the bridges leading into downtown, to encourage foot traffic to and fro. Combine restaurants, retail, and gourmet foods to take home, possibly fresh produce also. You really don't have to do too much, since the infrastructure is already in place for truck deliveries. Above all, keep as much vintage look of a 50+ year old building as you can.

I know something like this was tried with Mercado del Sol, but that was a terrible location, and a terrible era for downtown. Downtown's in a much different place now than it was then, and I think this would hit the cusp of a wave of revived interest, as all these other projects get finished.

1280px-RdgTrmnlMkt2014.jpg

 

 This is such a cool idea. H-town man can you send this to Lovett commercial. I can totally see them doing something like this especially with there new sawyer yards development.  

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I've been saying the Post Office site would make a good "Farmers Market District", but I've got to be honest I never thought I'd agree with preserving the post office structure.. Lol. But I'm really digging the idea. Like you said, with the site issues, renovations might be the best bet until land prices eventually go high enough to make it financially feasible to completely tear down/redevelop the site.

But I would add residential lofts, at least some of which could be leased to artists, with studio space in the building along side the market (maybe that's what you meant by creative "office" loft space?), possibly even a new community/downtown art center type thing.

HAIFers wet dream.. Imagine if we were able to take it a step further and have it be a commuter rail station. It could be like Denvers central station terminal. I've never been, but apparently it's quite a happening hub with bars/gathering places to hang out and what not.

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I rather see this in EaDo or the actual warehouse district. Warehouses that might actually be a benefit to save. If this warehouse wasn't so darn huge and enormous and didn't use the site so poorly then sure keep it, but don't understand the movement to all the sudden save an otherwise unremarkable building.

 

H-town. Your idea is seriously awesome...just would be better for a different for a smaller warehouse or one that would be connect to other neighborhoods. Hell grab one of the old warehouses in near Sawyer or any of them down washington or use one in the actual warehouse district.

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because there are clearly site externalities that could prevent someone from redeveloping the site, so the idea here is making the best of what you already have. yeah the building looks pretty crappy, but if it had any of the artsy stuff going on like mentioned above then surely artists would enjoy the exposure of painting up some of the outside walls to make it more eclectic. I'm not sure i agree that this would work as well down Washington or along Sawyer.. those aren't really touristy destinations or central gathering points for anything. downtown (not the warehouse district portion) has much more going for it IMO than the other sites and a large market/gathering place would help with the ongoing renaissance of downtown.

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so Lovett IS one of the guys behind Sawyer Yards. i was thinking that was the case but wasn't for sure.. yeah a Sawyer Yards art collective(?), live/work/gallery space type thing, with like a community art center promoting and showcasing the arts in downtown/the city (not sure if they're doing that over at Sawyer Yards?), was what i was envisioning to go with a large central market retail place. the artists would add some of their own local cultural flair to the property so its not so sterile and obviously a former federal building, and could sell some of their works along side the other local vendors at the market.

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because there are clearly site externalities that could prevent someone from redeveloping the site..

Obviously Lovett worked financials (due to the site problems) to make it feasible to redevelop the site, but to what extent, who knows? They mentioned wanting to reuse some of the existing structure..

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^^^ would love to have something of this magnitude in houston... wow / yummy!

 

Everyone would love it, and then for some reason its hours would be 7AM-3PM Monday-Friday.

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Lovett Commercial has closed on the 16-acre U.S. Post Office site in downtown.

The Houston-based developer, which builds neighborhood shopping centers and urban redevelopment, did not elaborate on plans in a statement announcing the purchase. Previously,  Lovett 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.”

The purchase price was not disclosed

from the chronicle 

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I struggle to see anything at this site succeeding beyond some large apartment blocks, with maybe a restaurant along Franklin. 

 

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I struggle to see anything at this site succeeding beyond some large apartment blocks, with maybe a restaurant along Franklin. 

I think there is a massive amount of potential here. With the Sawyer Yards Arts District down the road on Washington and the redevelopment of the theatre district, this area will be the next hot spot of downtown without a doubt.

Edited by Triton
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I think there is a massive amount of potential here. With the Sawyer Yards Arts District down the road on Washington and the redevelopment of the theatre district, this area will be the next hot spot of downtown without a doubt.

 

I think thats obvious to everybody but them. Just from reading the statement in the article it just seems like they are treating this like simple retail tract development. Nothing has indicated that they are going to handle this in any special way.

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I think there is a massive amount of potential here. With the Sawyer Yards Arts District down the road on Washington and the redevelopment of the theatre district, this area will be the next hot spot of downtown without a doubt.

 

I agree. The Market Square apartment tower and Hines Market Square are going up a couple of blocks from this. The presence along Franklin gives this parcel easy access to Washington Avenue.  An effective layout of the parcel could permit a substantial residential, retail (at least restaurants and a few types of shops), and commercial presence.  Environmental cleanup costs are a concern, and I think the developer would be wise to incorporate effective access to Buffalo Bayou as an amenity for potential denizens, but this site has a lot of upside.

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I think thats obvious to everybody but them. Just from reading the statement in the article it just seems like they are treating this like simple retail tract development. Nothing has indicated that they are going to handle this in any special way.

 

no offense but how in the hell would you know? are you some sort of expert press release decipherer?? what an absurd comment.

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I think thats obvious to everybody but them. Just from reading the statement in the article it just seems like they are treating this like simple retail tract development. Nothing has indicated that they are going to handle this in any special way.

Completely disagree with you

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Yeah, everything I've heard indicates that they want to do something interesting with the property, something more similar to Sawyer Yards that actually reuses some of the existing buildings. We'll see once they make a meatier announcement though.

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http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/morning_call/2015/08/downtown-post-office-sold-to-become-mixed-use.html

 

"It's extremely rare to find a downtown site with direct, easy access to Interstate 10, Interstate 45 and numerous adjacent neighborhoods in Houston,” Burdette Huffman, vice president for Lovett Commercial, said in a statement. “Our goal is to create a very special mixed-use development that leverages the Bayou, the theater district and the significant scale of the property."
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Nothing has indicated that they are going to handle this in any special way.

 

 

 

Our goal is to create a very special mixed-use development that leverages the Bayou, the theater district and the significant scale of the property.

 

:lol:  :lol:  :lol:

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haha you got me. I'm still not convinced though. Only time will tell.

 

Look at it this way. Even if you keep your expectations to the lowest (suburban style shopping center), it still provides a level of activity to a part of downtown that never really existed... you rarely ever saw people walking the sidewalks on this side of downtown. People basically came here to drop off mail and pick up packages and go home or to work... that's it. This new development, again lowest expectations, could provide a good connection to the bayou and is only about 2 blocks away from the Market Square Park area, further enhancing the area. Also considering that the Chase bank lot is for sale and could potentially turn into a residential complex, there is some serious potential which, in my view, is better than the post office complex anyday.

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Not to pile on, but the development challenges mentioned previously that caused Midway to turn away should rule out conventional retail development. Either you reuse what's existing, or you'd need to build something very significant to make it worth the cost and effort.

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Look at it this way. Even if you keep your expectations to the lowest (suburban style shopping center), it still provides a level of activity to a part of downtown that never really existed... you rarely ever saw people walking the sidewalks on this side of downtown. People basically came here to drop off mail and pick up packages and go home or to work... that's it. This new development, again lowest expectations, could provide a good connection to the bayou and is only about 2 blocks away from the Market Square Park area, further enhancing the area. Also considering that the Chase bank lot is for sale and could potentially turn into a residential complex, there is some serious potential which, in my view, is better than the post office complex anyday.

I've wondered about the old Chase drive-through bank site. It has been used as extra parking of late, and I'm glad to hear it's up for sale. I think it would make an excellent residential site with the other developments going up around it.

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I've wondered about the old Chase drive-through bank site. It has been used as extra parking of late, and I'm glad to hear it's up for sale. I think it would make an excellent residential site with the other developments going up around it.

im not sure it is still up for sale? i inquired about that bank on here 6 months to a year ago, after someone posted a picture of a drive thru bank on Kirby(?) talking about how out of place it was. lo and behold the Chase site popped up for sale a short time later, but the bidding process was only a month or so/ended in March i believe. anyone know when we would typically expect to hear something about any transaction?

Edited by cloud713

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I am envisioning a home depot, a best buy, and at least two mattress stores.

 

hey, all those people that will be moving into downtown need a place to buy things to make their apartment feel more like home, a big screen tv and a mattress.

 

With the way the street grid is over there, it sucks.

 

all the streets over there connecting this to downtown are barren bridges over the bayou with minimal sidewalks (I guess they're 3' sidewalks, which is adequate, but they're also right on the street with no buffer between sidewalk and street which is inadequate for 3' sidewalks).

 

maybe they'll work with the city to put in some pedestrian bridges down on the bayou that will be more friendly for walking around, where it's not barren at all, then they just need to figure out how to get people down there and then convince them it's actually a good idea to go down, then come back up on the other side to get anywhere.

 

at the very least, they need to create more room for the sidewalks, with a buffer, and introduce some form of shade over those bridges.

 

otherwise, unique location or not, it is going to be difficult at best to get people to walk from this site to any other part of downtown, and visa versa.

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Any reason to make this a transit center? I guess not but why not?

 

1. Houston-Dallas Bullet train

2. Park and Ride Buses

3. Metro Rail hub

 

If someone is willing to pay for the site.

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Any reason to make this a transit center? I guess not but why not?

 

1. Houston-Dallas Bullet train

2. Park and Ride Buses

3. Metro Rail hub

 

If one desired to make this a Mega Transit Center I would suppose it wouldn't be so far fetched. Run a light rail extension up Bagby for either/both the Green or Purple lines. Connect to the Red Line via a skywalk extension to the UH Downtown station. Amtrak could easily be integrated along with the high-speed rail to Dallas. Highway access is on the doorstep. Every downtown Park and Ride bus could stop here with only slight route modifications.

 

I just hope they go BIG on this one. Central transit hub. Residential condo. Office high-rise. Bayou promenade. Mall. Theatre. Washington Ave extension and Franklin closure. Light rail connection. Do it all. It's as someone else already said, you'd need to build something significant to recoup your investment.

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Washington Ave extension and Franklin closure. 

 

Please tell me this a realistic possibility? It makes a ton of sense and would really beautify that portion of the Bayou downtown in addition to making it easily accessible to whatever is built on the site. 

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The owner of Lovett that purchased that site is Frank Lu.  He has build tract mansions all over Houston.  He was the highest bidder.  Now this is big time for him.  I have no idea what he will build.  Maybe multiple highrises for sale, he never leases.  Every now and them he comes to the Houston Tomorrow meetings.  Very quiet but needs input from the Houston community. 

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The owner of Lovett that purchased that site is Frank Lu.  He has build tract mansions all over Houston.  He was the highest bidder.  Now this is big time for him.  I have no idea what he will build.  Maybe multiple highrises for sale, he never leases.  Every now and them he comes to the Houston Tomorrow meetings.  Very quiet but needs input from the Houston community. 

 

Do you know Frank or work for him?  If he needs input, how can we get it to him?

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I think his name is "Frank Liu".  I know of him mainly because he bought the house i grew up in, from my parents.  They thought he was very nice and charming.  Other than that, I have no other quasi-personal information about him.

 

However, I have observed many local projects his company has done since then.  Many of them town homes in potentially transitional areas.  Also, a fair number of McMansions in other areas.  He strikes me as a good businessman, but this project is different.  It will be interesting to see what he does with it.  

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So much potential

Speaking of potential.. a magazine with the San Francisco Transbay Transit Center on the cover popped up on my social media feed today. Admittedly it was the first time I've seen renderings of the transit center, even though I've seen the tower many times.

How does Houston get a transit center/development like this? Yes, I realize we aren't "San Francisco".. but still. Im not talking about just the awe inspiring architecture, but the cohesiveness of all the local transit networks, the blending of such a large development into the fabric of a dense urban area, etc..

TTC-SECTION-1.jpg

Transbay-Transit-Center-9.jpg

Transbay-Transit-Center-by-Pelli-Clarke-

Bus-Plaza1.jpg

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Yea unfortunately since the HSR guys don't even wanna bring it to downtown there really isn't a chance for something like this.  Unless you wanna build all of this for a three times a week Amtrak train.  

 

But on the flip side that probably won't get built for like 20 years at least, too expensive. 

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True, a downtown(ish) intramodal transit center would lack the HSR connection the SF project has, but surely we would want to have some sort of hub in/near downtown for any future commuter rail system to tie into our LRT system? Although the density won't call for a Transbay Tower-esque skyscraper at the Northwest Mall site, we could potentially have all of the transit components that make up the Transbay transit center at that NW mall location.. A likely HSR line, light rail (whenever the BRT gets converted in the future), Busses/HOV, and a level for pedestrian ground floor activity and pick up/drop offs from personal vehicles.

What probably won't get built for like 20 years?

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What probably won't get built for like 20 years?

 

The California High Speed Rail.  And that's optimistic, there's a ton of NIMBY pushback and opposition as always unfortunately. 

 

And I agree with everything else you said, a downtown transit center combining Amtrak, Greyhound, light rail and a METRO bus center would be really cool and a great opportunity to create a signature structure identifiable to Houston. 

 

Unfortunately there's just no money for something like that with METRO having to make those damn mobility payments.  And if METRO can't fund it, then who would? 

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The California High Speed Rail. And that's optimistic, there's a ton of NIMBY pushback and opposition as always unfortunately.

And I agree with everything else you said, a downtown transit center combining Amtrak, Greyhound, light rail and a METRO bus center would be really cool and a great opportunity to create a signature structure identifiable to Houston.

Unfortunately there's just no money for something like that with METRO having to make those damn mobility payments. And if METRO can't fund it, then who would?

Coughing while reading on a phone leads to inadvertent replies. :-(

Edited by The Pragmatist

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Office, retail and multifamily:

 

http://realtynewsreport.com/2015/10/10/texas-leasing-magnate-the-q-a-with-chip-colvill/

 

We were recently hired by Lovett Commercial to begin leasing and marketing the former Post Office site on Franklin Street in downtown.  Most people in Houston know this location if they went there at midnight to pay their taxes.  It is a very exciting project. Frank Liu and his team are extremely creative and, as a result the project will have “creative” office space with over 20 foot ceiling heights, awesome retail space, a multi-family component and other great amenities. The location of the development — on Buffalo Bayou and adjacent to the Washington Avenue Corridor — will be very exciting and a game-changer for downtown Houston, which continues to become more of a “live, work and play” environment.  We look forward to unveiling Lovett’s plans in the months ahead.
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What I get from this statement is that they are going to repurpose the existing buildings.

I known for a fact they are only keeping the central office building. The rest will come down.

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