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Discovery West: Skanska Downtown Mixed-Use Development


Moore713

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2 hours ago, HoustonIsHome said:

Been saying the same thing. This area of downtown is screaming for new life and  always thought a new aquarium or other major attraction would be nice in that area. Theirs in a ton of shops and bright flasy nightlife and those hotels in the area will be constantly busy

 

I couldn't agree more. The current aquarium location has served them well, but this makes more sense on the east side / near the touristy stuff.

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2 hours ago, HoustonIsHome said:

Been saying the same thing. This area of downtown is screaming for new life and  always thought a new aquarium or other major attraction would be nice in that area. Theirs in a ton of shops and bright flasy nightlife and those hotels in the area will be constantly busy

 

Agreed. We need a real aquarium, not a restaurant that confuses tourists into thinking it is one.

 

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I think the Downtown Living Initiative was (and is) a really good idea.  A question in my mind regards whether it has built up the resident population downtown enough to support a lot of the things many of us would like to see created.   In view of that, I think it would be risky to build tourist attractions too early in the overall process of reconstructing a vibrant downtown for Houston. People who visit one tourist attraction will want to have others easily accessible nearby, plus interesting places to eat that are open after the downtown workers get off work.  We've improved in that regard, but downtown Houston (to me) doesn't offer as much to do as it did when I was a kid here in the 50s and 60s.

 

I think the "Mercado del Sol" project east of downtown is an example of investing public + private money too early in a particular sector of the process.  Perhaps the re-use of the Albert Thomas Convention Center is another example, but it does have a few surviving businesses.  Discovery Green has been rather successful and (I think) hasn't been completely leveraged yet.  

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1 hour ago, ArchFan said:

I think the Downtown Living Initiative was (and is) a really good idea.  A question in my mind regards whether it has built up the resident population downtown enough to support a lot of the things many of us would like to see created.   In view of that, I think it would be risky to build tourist attractions too early in the overall process of reconstructing a vibrant downtown for Houston. People who visit one tourist attraction will want to have others easily accessible nearby, plus interesting places to eat that are open after the downtown workers get off work.  We've improved in that regard, but downtown Houston (to me) doesn't offer as much to do as it did when I was a kid here in the 50s and 60s.

 

I think the "Mercado del Sol" project east of downtown is an example of investing public + private money too early in a particular sector of the process.  Perhaps the re-use of the Albert Thomas Convention Center is another example, but it does have a few surviving businesses.  Discovery Green has been rather successful and (I think) hasn't been completely leveraged yet.  


Agreed. I’m a fan of incrementalism and think if we can keep improving the public spaces and streetscapes while adding residential, retail will follow. To me, a bunch of connected small places and spaces in a walkable area is better than big projects like aquariums. That said, I’d love to see one or two public squares added downtown in key places. Similar to how Mexico City and many European cities have several plazas separated by only a few blocks. 

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  • 2 months later...
On 3/4/2020 at 11:33 PM, Urban Monster said:


Agreed. I’m a fan of incrementalism and think if we can keep improving the public spaces and streetscapes while adding residential, retail will follow. To me, a bunch of connected small places and spaces in a walkable area is better than big projects like aquariums. That said, I’d love to see one or two public squares added downtown in key places. Similar to how Mexico City and many European cities have several plazas separated by only a few blocks. 

Or even NY

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On 3/4/2020 at 9:31 PM, ArchFan said:

I think the Downtown Living Initiative was (and is) a really good idea.  A question in my mind regards whether it has built up the resident population downtown enough to support a lot of the things many of us would like to see created.   In view of that, I think it would be risky to build tourist attractions too early in the overall process of reconstructing a vibrant downtown for Houston. People who visit one tourist attraction will want to have others easily accessible nearby, plus interesting places to eat that are open after the downtown workers get off work.  We've improved in that regard, but downtown Houston (to me) doesn't offer as much to do as it did when I was a kid here in the 50s and 60s.

 

I think the "Mercado del Sol" project east of downtown is an example of investing public + private money too early in a particular sector of the process.  Perhaps the re-use of the Albert Thomas Convention Center is another example, but it does have a few surviving businesses.  Discovery Green has been rather successful and (I think) hasn't been completely leveraged yet.  

 

I think Post HTX is really going to help with that tourist attraction vibe.

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On 3/4/2020 at 9:31 PM, ArchFan said:

I think the Downtown Living Initiative was (and is) a really good idea.  A question in my mind regards whether it has built up the resident population downtown enough to support a lot of the things many of us would like to see created.   In view of that, I think it would be risky to build tourist attractions too early in the overall process of reconstructing a vibrant downtown for Houston. People who visit one tourist attraction will want to have others easily accessible nearby, plus interesting places to eat that are open after the downtown workers get off work.  We've improved in that regard, but downtown Houston (to me) doesn't offer as much to do as it did when I was a kid here in the 50s and 60s.

 

I think the "Mercado del Sol" project east of downtown is an example of investing public + private money too early in a particular sector of the process.  Perhaps the re-use of the Albert Thomas Convention Center is another example, but it does have a few surviving businesses.  Discovery Green has been rather successful and (I think) hasn't been completely leveraged yet.  

 

I generally agree, although I think Bayou Place (Albert Thomas) needed to happen to build some excitement for downtown in the early 00's and attract the initial phase of residents. We also have to keep in mind, a downtown does not need a ton of residents to be successful. Chicago in the 1980's did not have many residents downtown but plenty of tourism. Watch the images of it in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. It had lots of tourist attractions, a huge mass transit system, and historical inertia working for it.

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7 hours ago, cloud713 said:


The aquarium of the americas is great. Something else I had considered back when I used to get a little ridiculous with ideas (I still think the topgolf on the roof of GRB idea would have been great, haha.. they could have even built the structure for the bays on the Houston first parking garage to support the weight) was a satellite campus for moody gardens in downtown.

 

I was thinking the same thing re: a TopGolf concept, but on the SE part of downtown. It would have spanned 3 empty blocks. This was year ago, btw. 

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25 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

 

I generally agree, although I think Bayou Place (Albert Thomas) needed to happen to build some excitement for downtown in the early 00's and attract the initial phase of residents. We also have to keep in mind, a downtown does not need a ton of residents to be successful. Chicago in the 1980's did not have many residents downtown but plenty of tourism. Watch the images of it in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. It had lots of tourist attractions, a huge mass transit system, and historical inertia working for it.

 
i think you exaggerate the lack of residents in downtown Chicago in the 1980s.  Watch the Bob Newhart Show.  😉

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22 hours ago, DrLan34 said:

 

I think Post HTX is really going to help with that tourist attraction vibe.

Yeah for sure. People laugh but Houston needs to be more photogenic/instagrammable. Something well put together, unique features, and a skyline view will attract the type of tourists & hype we need. Plus a local yokel like myself will visit. 

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On 5/25/2020 at 10:55 AM, Houston19514 said:

 
i think you exaggerate the lack of residents in downtown Chicago in the 1980s.  Watch the Bob Newhart Show.  😉

 

Apparently the greater downtown Chicago area had 18,000 residents in 1982 and about 110,000 today. The dimensions of the area they're using for downtown Chicago are roughly equivalent to downtown Houston plus Midtown and Eado. We are probably somewhere around 18,000 in those 3 areas combined.

 

https://www.brookings.edu/research/big-city-downtowns-are-booming-but-can-their-momentum-outlast-the-coronavirus/

Edited by H-Town Man
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3 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

 

Apparently the greater downtown Chicago area had 18,000 residents in 1982 and about 110,000 today. The dimensions of the area they're using for downtown Chicago are roughly equivalent to downtown Houston plus Midtown and Eado. We are probably somewhere around 18,000 in those 3 areas combined.

 

https://www.brookings.edu/research/big-city-downtowns-are-booming-but-can-their-momentum-outlast-the-coronavirus/

I saw another article asking the same thing. I honestly think if it did affect things, it was on a microscopic scale. People still want to be in the city. And damn Chicago has that many in their core!? My goodness

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8 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

We might have more like 25,000 in those three neighborhoods. At any rate, if we're not yet a downtown that Ferris would spend a day in, it's not for lack of residents.

 

 

I have done a Ferris Day in Houston... It honestly so much fun. French Restaurant - La Colombe D'or... baseball was awesome. The only real problem is finding a parade on a weekday that coincides with a day baseball game!!

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58 minutes ago, Avossos said:

 

I have done a Ferris Day in Houston... It honestly so much fun. French Restaurant - La Colombe D'or... baseball was awesome. The only real problem is finding a parade on a weekday that coincides with a day baseball game!!

 

I believe it could be done, but not one that people would watch a movie of. "Anything looks peaceful from 1,005 feet" just doesn't sound the same as "Anything looks peaceful from 1,453 feet."

 

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10 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

We might have more like 25,000 in those three neighborhoods. At any rate, if we're not yet a downtown that Ferris would spend a day in, it's not for lack of residents.

 

 

FWIW, the area designated as downtown by the linked Brookings study (roughly speaking, the CBD, Midtown, and Eado) had almost 41,000 people in the 2010 census.  I would venture to guess we are over 50,000 by now.

35 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

 

I believe it could be done, but not one that people would watch a movie of. "Anything looks peaceful from 1,005 feet" just doesn't sound the same as "Anything looks peaceful from 1,453 feet."

 

 

Well, they didn't exactly spend a whole day in downtown Chicago either.  For example, you can't watch a baseball game in downtown Chicago.

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14 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

 

FWIW, the area designated as downtown by the linked Brookings study (roughly speaking, the CBD, Midtown, and Eado) had almost 41,000 people in the 2010 census.  I would venture to guess we are over 50,000 by now.

 

Well, they didn't exactly spend a whole day in downtown Chicago either.  For example, you can't watch a baseball game in downtown Chicago.

 

I was comparing the size of their area in Chicago with a similar size in Houston. When they measured Houston, they used a somewhat wider geographical area that pulled in a lot of East End neighborhoods that go beyond what I'd call "Eado." But if you look at their map of what they're calling "downtown Chicago," it's about 1.7 miles x 2.9 miles, which is big enough to cover Downtown, Midtown, and Eado proper in Houston.

 

Interestingly, for downtown Chicago they did not include Streeterville, the Gold Coast, or even North Michigan beyond roughly Chicago Avenue, so the population with all that is probably 150-200k. But then for Houston you'd have to add in Fourth Ward, Old Sixth Ward, and First Ward, and then maybe you're getting close to 50,000.

 

That's true, their day wasn't spent strictly in downtown Chicago. And for our Houston Ferris, I would let him go to the Museum District.

 

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49 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

 

I was comparing the size of their area in Chicago with a similar size in Houston. When they measured Houston, they used a somewhat wider geographical area that pulled in a lot of East End neighborhoods that go beyond what I'd call "Eado." But if you look at their map of what they're calling "downtown Chicago," it's about 1.7 miles x 2.9 miles, which is big enough to cover Downtown, Midtown, and Eado proper in Houston.

 

Interestingly, for downtown Chicago they did not include Streeterville, the Gold Coast, or even North Michigan beyond roughly Chicago Avenue, so the population with all that is probably 150-200k. But then for Houston you'd have to add in Fourth Ward, Old Sixth Ward, and First Ward, and then maybe you're getting close to 50,000.

 

That's true, their day wasn't spent strictly in downtown Chicago. And for our Houston Ferris, I would let him go to the Museum District.

 

 

I used the downtown definitions used in the Brooking study. If we are going to use the Brookings definition for downtown Chicago, it only makes sense to compare it to the Brookings definition, using the same criteria, for downtown Houston.  FWIW, I too noticed that Streeterville and the Gold Coast and part of North Michigan Ave were not included. I didn't dive deep into their methodology, but I presume there was good reason for that.  I rather prefer the delineations used in the DefiningDowntown maps.

Total for Chicago in this definition (which includes Streeterville, the Gold Coast and all of North Michigan Ave), is 144,000.  Houston's is 58,500.

Edited by Houston19514
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20 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

 

I used the downtown definitions used in the Brooking study. If we are going to use the Brookings definition for downtown Chicago, it only makes sense to compare it to the Brookings definition, using the same criteria, for downtown Houston. 

 

I would disagree. Their definition for downtown Chicago includes somewhat less than most people consider to be the downtown Chicago area (Water Tower and John Hancock Center aren't even included). Their definition for downtown Houston is not only a much larger area geographically but includes neighborhoods that no one would consider part of downtown Houston, including large portions of Fifth Ward and Third Ward. The context of the discussion is how a residential population contributes to success and vitality of a downtown area; the forest of condo towers around Water Tower certainly contribute to downtown Chicago's success, Fifth Ward and Third Ward not so much.

 

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2 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

 

I would disagree. Their definition for downtown Chicago includes somewhat less than most people consider to be the downtown Chicago area (Water Tower and John Hancock Center aren't even included). Their definition for downtown Houston is not only a much larger area geographically but includes neighborhoods that no one would consider part of downtown Houston, out along Navigation. The context of the discussion is how a residential population contributes to success and vitality of a downtown area; the forest of condo towers around Water Tower certainly contribute to downtown Chicago's success, neighborhoods of detached homes along Navigation not so much.

 

 

Your argument is with Brookings (whose study  you introduced to this conversation). They applied objective criteria to both cities and those are the results.

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Just now, Houston19514 said:

 

Your argument is with Brookings (whose study  you introduced to this conversation). They applied objective criteria to both cities and those are the results.

 

I am using a select part of the Brookings study which is not subject to the errors I mentioned in my last post. I am comparing apples to apples - the population of the section they showed in downtown Chicago in 1982 and the population in that same section of Chicago today. You are trying to make comparisons between what they chose as downtown Chicago and what they chose as downtown Houston, despite the obvious errors in such a comparison. People living in Third Ward and Fifth Ward are not a useful component of the population of downtown Houston for the purposes of discussing street life or tourism potential, whereas in Chicago, they actually left out populations that obviously contribute to downtown Chicago's vitality (e.g. the forest of condos around the water tower). It would be like me forcing you to accept any statement ever made on the Bob Newhart Show, just because the Bob Newhart Show was your source for understanding the downtown Chicago population in the 1980's.

 

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It's great news but hard to wrap my head around it in this context:

"Almost 51 million square feet of office space – the equivalent of 50 downtown skyscrapers – is currently vacant in Houston." 

“Houston’s office market was struggling amid a glut of available space even before the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus,” said Wade Bowlin, president of property services, central division of Madison Marquette. 

And then there could be post-pandemic headwinds of additional working from home reducing the need for space and M&A and consolidation in energy.

https://realtynewsreport.com/houston-office-vacancy-hits-highest-point-since-1980s-madison-marquette/

 

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Is it because some companies are willing to pay a premium for new office space that is LEED certified, as high end and new amenities, and other incentives that help with hiring a workforce? I can see the older buildings that are all outdated being hard to lease up. I always wonder what will happen to all the old brown and white Soviet looking building from the 70s around town. Some will dump money to renovate the inside but a lot of just bad. I have worked in a couple older buildings and they just don't feel like a successful company works there. Obviously, remote working and moving to campuses is changing how offices are leased up as well.

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47 minutes ago, zaphod said:

I don't care that much if this project cannibalizes nameless suburban office buildings but it would be a shame if we had more vacancy in downtown and other major locales.

Here's hoping the lead tenant will be a relocation from outside of downtown

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Anecdotally I’ve seen a lot of old small office spaces outside of major office market areas being torn down and replaced with retail or other more modern and useful development. Honestly would love for that to happen more. I’d rather lose 100 of those small outdated office blocks than one tower downtown.

Edited by jmitch94
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1 hour ago, downtownian said:

It's great news but hard to wrap my head around it in this context:

"Almost 51 million square feet of office space – the equivalent of 50 downtown skyscrapers – is currently vacant in Houston." 

“Houston’s office market was struggling amid a glut of available space even before the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus,” said Wade Bowlin, president of property services, central division of Madison Marquette. 

And then there could be post-pandemic headwinds of additional working from home reducing the need for space and M&A and consolidation in energy.

https://realtynewsreport.com/houston-office-vacancy-hits-highest-point-since-1980s-madison-marquette/

 

Maybe the additional competition might push some of those vacant buildings to consider converting a portion to residential?

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Maybe the additional competition might push some of those vacant buildings to consider converting a portion to residential?

 

office buildings are VERY had to convert to residential.  The floor to floor heights suck and you perimeter to core depths make it very tricky to get enough daylight into the residences.

If i had a crystal ball, i would say that Skanska, Hines, Transwestern, etc. will continue to develop new trophy buildings for major tenants moving into the CBD or other prime areas.  I think a lot of the small office buildings scattered through the inner loop are going to be demolished in the next 10 years as the demand for in town living continues to grow.  Look at some of the low rise office buildings in upper kirby, or galleria  that stuff is PRIME for residential and most of those spaces are class b or c at best.

I do think we will see plenty of low rise new office space but it will have to be incorporated into mixed use projects.  I bet we see plenty of GFR + 4 stories office or residential type projects moving forward.  

The brokers are all going to try and pretend that COVID didnt upend the commercial real estate market but I think the biggest winners from this shift in demand will be demolition companies, BRING ON THE WRECKING BALL!!!

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It's great news but hard to wrap my head around it in this context:

"Almost 51 million square feet of office space – the equivalent of 50 downtown skyscrapers – is currently vacant in Houston." 

“Houston’s office market was struggling amid a glut of available space even before the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus,” said Wade Bowlin, president of property services, central division of Madison Marquette. 

And then there could be post-pandemic headwinds of additional working from home reducing the need for space and M&A and consolidation in energy.

https://realtynewsreport.com/houston-office-vacancy-hits-highest-point-since-1980s-madison-marquette/

 

Building on what thatguysly said, imagine you own a Maserati dealership in River Oaks, and you read in the paper that Houston auto dealerships are doing badly. You know from your books that the Maseratis have been selling like hotcakes, you can't keep them in stock. So do you scale back your inventory because Houston auto dealerships are doing badly? Do you take a wait and see approach based on mixed messages? Or do you buy the building next door to your dealership, tear it down, and double the size of your dealership, and also decide to spend less time reading the paper? Probably the third.

It's about market segmentation. The market for brand new office space is different from the market for Class B or even 40-year-old Class A office space. Most of Houston's office stock was built before 1985. And we have a lot of "River Oaks" office tenants (oil companies) that don't care if there's a bargain, they'd rather shell out for the latest and greatest. So we will keep seeing this trickle of new office buildings.

 

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1 hour ago, H-Town Man said:

Building on what thatguysly said, imagine you own a Maserati dealership in River Oaks, and you read in the paper that Houston auto dealerships are doing badly. You know from your books that the Maseratis have been selling like hotcakes, you can't keep them in stock. So do you scale back your inventory because Houston auto dealerships are doing badly? Do you take a wait and see approach based on mixed messages? Or do you buy the building next door to your dealership, tear it down, and double the size of your dealership, and also decide to spend less time reading the paper? Probably the third.

It's about market segmentation. The market for brand new office space is different from the market for Class B or even 40-year-old Class A office space. Most of Houston's office stock was built before 1985. And we have a lot of "River Oaks" office tenants (oil companies) that don't care if there's a bargain, they'd rather shell out for the latest and greatest. So we will keep seeing this trickle of new office buildings.

 

I think it's worth mentioning right now that rates are so low for these big loans that a new office building can be pretty competitive price wise with the older ones. In other words, the companies are getting a huge upgrade in space while not necessarily getting a huge rent hike. 

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16 minutes ago, Naviguessor said:

When They developed that hotel, they always knew that this would happen.   Will Love the new view from Disco Green.  This is just what was needed here.  

 

Totally.

Either way, glad after all these years to finally get the entire area around Discovery Green surrounded by development!

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  • Highrise Tower changed the title to Discovery West: Skanska Downtown Mixed-Use Development

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