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Discovery West: Mixed-Use Development Downtown By Skanska


Moore713

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15 hours ago, Urbannizer said:

I just appreciate that everyone was ballsy enough to drive in the wrong direction on La Branch in the first rendering. And that apparently there's two way traffic on Lamar. Looks dicey!

That second rendering is a tease. I'm sure it's a placeholder - but like everyone else, I can't wait to see what else is built in the next phases around this site.

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1 hour ago, mfastx said:

Really wish some of those lots around MMP would be developed by Crane. Just embarrassing seeing the overhead shots. 

yes, what is he waiting on? I though the renderings for the "Astros Village" were going to be released at the start of the season.

Any updates?

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4 hours ago, shasta said:

yes, what is he waiting on? I though the renderings for the "Astros Village" were going to be released at the start of the season.

Any updates?

From this Nov. 5, 2021 article - Astros owner Jim Crane said Friday that construction on a ballpark entertainment district surrounding Minute Maid Park is set to begin “probably within 12 months.”

 

Perhaps it's more likely they're waiting for progress on 59/69 construction?

Edited by 79ta
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5 minutes ago, 79ta said:

From this Nov. 5, 2021 article - Astros owner Jim Crane said Friday that construction on a ballpark entertainment district surrounding Minute Maid Park is set to begin “probably within 12 months.”

 

Perhaps it's more likely they're waiting for progress on 59/69 construction?

With construction so soon...have we seen any renderings of this district?

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21 hours ago, Twinsanity02 said:

The change in this area in the last 10 years is nothing short of astonishing. I remember the area before the George Brown. It was a wasteland. For sometime the convention center sat out there alone.

Now it is vibrant and surrounded by high rises. What a remarkable improvement.

There was a rather heartbreaking picture of the Eastex freeway under construction in the East River thread yesterday. The massive parking desert of the 1970s-1990s was apparently contiguously urban in the 1940s.

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On 10/27/2022 at 6:45 AM, 004n063 said:

There was a rather heartbreaking picture of the Eastex freeway under construction in the East River thread yesterday. The massive parking desert of the 1970s-1990s was apparently contiguously urban in the 1940s.

Even older photos show the Frost Town neighborhood surrounding what is now MMP, with Annunciation Church's steeple sticking up among a dense cluster of two-story homes, not unlike the one that Annunciation quasi-restored/reconstructed as offices. 

I'm not sure how far the original Houston Center sky city concept went before everything went bust, but at least in renderings it stretched way out in all directions. Maybe some buildings were demolished for that along with other dynamics shut down the east side of DT. Houston kept growing, but that part was abandoned.  

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5 hours ago, Nate99 said:

Even older photos show the Frost Town neighborhood surrounding what is now MMP, with Annunciation Church's steeple sticking up among a dense cluster of two-story homes, not unlike the one that Annunciation quasi-restored/reconstructed as offices. 

I'm not sure how far the original Houston Center sky city concept went before everything went bust, but at least in renderings it stretched way out in all directions. Maybe some buildings were demolished for that along with other dynamics shut down the east side of DT. Houston kept growing, but that part was abandoned.  

Frost Town did not extend as far South as MMP. MMP is on the site of Union Station. Here's the 1944 aerial, with Frost Town circled in red

image.png.b8082da80200972b76291d0834156cfd.png

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On 10/28/2022 at 7:14 AM, Nate99 said:

Even older photos show the Frost Town neighborhood surrounding what is now MMP, with Annunciation Church's steeple sticking up among a dense cluster of two-story homes, not unlike the one that Annunciation quasi-restored/reconstructed as offices. 

I'm not sure how far the original Houston Center sky city concept went before everything went bust, but at least in renderings it stretched way out in all directions. Maybe some buildings were demolished for that along with other dynamics shut down the east side of DT. Houston kept growing, but that part was abandoned.  

At least 32 blocks were demolished to make way for Houston Center. If completed as originally planned, it would have been one of the largest private developments ever completed. As things currently stand, a lot of the land cleared for it still hasn't been redeveloped.

Edited by Big E
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9 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

Sorry to go further off course, but these posts made me curious. From the linked rendering, Here are the blocks and what is on them:

  • First City Tower
  • Two Houston Center
  • LyondellBasel Tower
  • 4 Houston Center/Shops @ HC (2 blocks)
  • First City Parking Garage/DT Club
  • Four Seasons Hotel
  • Fulbright Tower
  • Houston Center Garage 1
  • 5 Houston Center
  • One Park Place
  • Vacant Block (Discovery West)
  • 1550 on the Green/Embassy Suites
  • Discovery Green (approx 6 1/2 blocks)
  • Hess Tower
  • Parkside Residential/Hess Parking
  • Marriott Marquis (1 1/2 blocks)
  • George R Brown (approx. 6 blocks)
  • Vacant Block (6 Houston Center site)
  • 2nd Vacant Block north of HC (may have been part of Houston Center)

So of the original Texas Eastern/Houston Center property, it looks like we are down to 2 or 3 blocks that remain to be redeveloped.

331_hou_ctr_sld-2.jpg?ssl=1

Of those properties listed, First City Tower, Two Houston Center, Lyondell Basel Tower, 4 Houston Center, First City Parking Garage, Four Seasons Hotel, Fulbright Tower, and Houston Center Garage 1 were the only buildings built that were part of the original Houston Center plan (5 Houston Center wasn't built till the 2000s, and is very different from the building which would have occupied the space in the original plan). The original building planned to carry the "4 Houston Center" name would have been a 53 story building, but it was never built; the name was given to the current building carrying the moniker instead. It was the only building to actually be named and have its height revealed prior to cancellation. Of those original 32 blocks, that's just 9 that they managed to ultimately develop. Alongside the Bank of the Southwest Tower, this is one of the biggest disappointments in Houston's real estate history (which still produced some great skyscrapers anyway, which shows how even a ultimate disappointment can enjoy some success if its ambitious enough).

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9 hours ago, Big E said:

Of those properties listed, First City Tower, Two Houston Center, Lyondell Basel Tower, 4 Houston Center, First City Parking Garage, Four Seasons Hotel, Fulbright Tower, and Houston Center Garage 1 were the only buildings built that were part of the original Houston Center plan (5 Houston Center wasn't built till the 2000s, and is very different from the building which would have occupied the space in the original plan). The original building planned to carry the "4 Houston Center" name would have been a 53 story building, but it was never built; the name was given to the current building carrying the moniker instead. It was the only building to actually be named and have its height revealed prior to cancellation. Of those original 32 blocks, that's just 9 that they managed to ultimately develop. Alongside the Bank of the Southwest Tower, this is one of the biggest disappointments in Houston's real estate history (which still produced some great skyscrapers anyway, which shows how even a ultimate disappointment can enjoy some success if its ambitious enough).

However it was developed and however much it followed or didn't follow the original plan, and by whomever it was developed, the fact is, of the approximately 32 blocks that were cleared for the development, all but 2 or 3 have been fully developed, with solid plans for one of those and "plans" for another (6 HC).

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3 hours ago, Texasota said:

I'm criticizing the teardowns more than the lack of new construction.

The buildings that were torn down were mostly 1 or 2 story random businesses or homes. There wasn't much of note in that part of town.

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9 hours ago, Ross said:

For a large portion of those decades, any buildings constructed would have sat empty, as demand for space was not enough to fill them.

That's largely only because the Oil Bust tanked the economy, which is also why those buildings weren't built in the first place. In a world where those buildings were built, it would have to be a situation where Houston's economy didn't collapse in the 80s in the first place.

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4 hours ago, Texasota said:

Ooooh I like this argument. By extension predominantly single family neighborhoods have little value.

Keep in mind that Texas Eastern, through it's Houston Center entities, owned all of the properties that were razed. The previous owners sold the properties of their own free will. So, if you can buy an entire subdivision of single family homes, you would be free to tear them all down. It's hard to tell from the maps and aerials, but the single family homes were on the Eastern edge, and were on blocks that were partially homes and partially vacant or businesses.

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5 hours ago, Texasota said:

I'm not a libertarian, so I don't 100% speak your language Ross. I can sometime translate, but it's an imperfect process.

My only real point is that reducing that whole side of town to parking lots was a net loss for decades.

What was the loss? The buildings that were razed were like this one Older building or this one Joystix or this Law office. Obviously, the Houston Center developers did not plan on the 80's oil bust, which delayed things, but I am wondering what you thought would have been located on those blocks. Did you ever go Downtown in those days? It was a complete wasteland, with nothing open. I just don't see losing some random crappy buildings as a big deal.

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No, I was not alive. But a lot of great things have been done with random crappy buildings. *Any* remaining businesses and housing would have been better than emptiness. 

Maybe old Chinatown would still be around in some form. Maybe something like Deep Ellum would have developed. Maybe just one of those little buildings would today house the best BBQ restaurant in the city. Who knows? Any potential for the unexpected and unpredictable disappeared along with those "random crappy buildings".

The three links you gave are great examples of small, flexible properties that can be repurposed for a variety of uses relatively quickly and cheaply. That's incredibly valuable and something we are really losing with all these full-block developments.

Edited by Texasota
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2 hours ago, Texasota said:

No, I was not alive. But a lot of great things have been done with random crappy buildings. *Any* remaining businesses and housing would have been better than emptiness. 

Maybe old Chinatown would still be around in some form. Maybe something like Deep Ellum would have developed. Maybe just one of those little buildings would today house the best BBQ restaurant in the city. Who knows? Any potential for the unexpected and unpredictable disappeared along with those "random crappy buildings".

The three links you gave are great examples of small, flexible properties that can be repurposed for a variety of uses relatively quickly and cheaply. That's incredibly valuable and something we are really losing with all these full-block developments.

Old Chinatown was on the other side of the freeway.

I am trying to find a source to get a better handle on what the buildings were on those blocks.

No one wanted those buildings at the time. The owners were probably happy to get  them sold for a decent price. There's no way one entity puts together 32 blocks of property in a major Downtown without the sellers being pretty motivated. Once the Houston Center entity bought all that property, the buildings were doomed, and there was nothing that could stop it.

Seriously, in the 70's and 80's Downtown and Midtown were complete wastelands. Midtown couldn't be redeveloped due to a lack of sewer capacity. It was a very different time than now. I would drive through Midtown in the 80's thinking how odd it was that an area 5 minutes from Downtown wasn't developed. In the 1990 census, less than 1000 people lived in Midtown, and it was probably less in Downtown.

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I'm well aware of where old Chinatown was; having something other than a sea of parking lots so close *could* have helped it stay more sustainable. 

Every central city in the country suffered massive losses at that time, but retaining some existing buildings, even small scale ones, could have provided the basis for rebuilding with *small* infusions of money. 

None of this is guaranteed; the loss is purely potential that might never have been tapped. But we never got to find out. 

 

Although again, we have a decent precedent right here in Texas: Deep Ellum. Not saying the neighborhoods are identical, but Deep Ellum is/was composed almost entirely of small two and (mostly) one story buildings and was not in good shape in the 80's. It had a massive resurgence as early as the 90's!

Would the east side of downtown looked like Deep Ellum in 1996 if it hadn't been razed to the ground? Probably not! But it might have been its own unique thing, rather than absolutely nothing.

 

Edited by Texasota
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Chinatown died because the people that lived and did business there moved out to the new Chinatown off of Bellaire Blvd. Chinatown was still going pretty strong in 1991 when my wife and I started dating. We would go to the Sun Deluxe Café, Lucky Inn(I think that was the name), and a couple of other places. The kung fu movies were still going strong at that time, as was Kim Son. When we moved to Midtown in 1998, we still went to many of those places, but it was becoming obvious that the center of mass was moving out West, where the larger Asian population was living. The Vietnamese places in Midtown stuck it out longer, but they eventually went West as well.

The Houston Center area was dead before the buildings were razed. The 80's made it worse. The oil bust then was worse than you could imagine. I went back to school because there were no jobs. Fortunately, when I graduated in 1989, the jobs had started to come back.

No one would have been willing to pay the taxes on buildings that made no money at all, least of all the Houston Center developers. Razing the buildings did no harm as far as I can tell.

And, let's not forget that Houston is a tear it down city. It always has been. 

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6 hours ago, Ross said:

Chinatown died because the people that lived and did business there moved out to the new Chinatown off of Bellaire Blvd. Chinatown was still going pretty strong in 1991 when my wife and I started dating. We would go to the Sun Deluxe Café, Lucky Inn(I think that was the name), and a couple of other places. The kung fu movies were still going strong at that time, as was Kim Son. When we moved to Midtown in 1998, we still went to many of those places, but it was becoming obvious that the center of mass was moving out West, where the larger Asian population was living. The Vietnamese places in Midtown stuck it out longer, but they eventually went West as well.

The Houston Center area was dead before the buildings were razed. The 80's made it worse. The oil bust then was worse than you could imagine. I went back to school because there were no jobs. Fortunately, when I graduated in 1989, the jobs had started to come back.

No one would have been willing to pay the taxes on buildings that made no money at all, least of all the Houston Center developers. Razing the buildings did no harm as far as I can tell.

And, let's not forget that Houston is a tear it down city. It always has been. 

I'm partially with you. I really appreciate that Houston doesn't have an overly robust preservationist culture. Historic buildings are nice, and historic neighborhoods can be nice too, but too often what holds them together is aggressive NIMBYism. Houston is all about dynamism and continuous change, and I appreciate that about the city.

Also, Houston was very much a one-industry town when the oil bust hit, and it's nonsensical to downplay the affect that had on demand overall.

But I also tend to think that the antiurbanism of the 1950s and 1960s (not just here, but across the US) helped set up the collapsing urban economies of the 1970s and 1980s. 

In other words, while the teardowns may have made sense in their individual contexts, the macro trend of suburbanization and urban divestment had already proven itself to be fiscally unsustainable for cities, and I do think the city of Houston could have been more proactive about maintaining a walkable downtown.

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We are in agree to disagree territory. What happened happened, so it's impossible to know if things could have gone differently. 

I do think you're far too fatalistic about these things though; just because something *did* happen doesn't mean it's the only thing that *could* happen and it has to be possible to try to avoid similar things in the future. 

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Old, historic parts of any city can be a good anchor and marketing tool. Hopefully Houston has things that have enough value that tearing them down never makes financial sense.

It is a balance, in my opinion. And if I am honest, I lean toward preservation as there is just so much land that can be re-developed without even sniffing the historically valuable properties. Just my humble opinion.

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