Last year was certainly unprecedented as our Downtown neighborhood felt the impact of COVID-19 and each sector, from office to hospitality, adjusted to a new normal. But 2021 is shaping up to be monumental as well — development is at an all-time high with more than $1.9 billion in construction projects currently underway and more on the horizon. As employees have adapted to working from home, office construction and redevelopment projects have accelerated. Planned residential projects are in various stages of development and nearly 1,400 new units will be added to Downtown’s growing residential market. This may end up being the year of development in Downtown Houston and we certainly approve.
The home office may have made its mark in 2020, but 2021 is all about the upgraded amenities in new and redeveloped office spaces Downtown.
1001 FANNIN completed updates to their main lobby, fitness center and adjacent tenant lounge with areas for entertainment, seating and gaming. A building conference center is slated for this year.
1550 ON THE GREEN is a recently announced 375,000-square-foot, 28-story office tower adjacent to Discovery Green and the Hilton Americas-Houston. Skanska will build the tower, which is part of a larger mixed-use project called Discover West. The property will wrap around the Embassy Suites hotel with a beautiful, curved facade. The building has already secured its anchor tenant, Norton Rose Fulbright, the third-largest law firm in the United States.
ALLEN CENTER is undergoing extensive renovations to the three-tower, 3.2-million-square-foot property, including an updated conference center, a new fitness center, a second-floor outdoor terrace, and updated retail bays and tenant mix.
AMEGY ON MAIN with updates to the building lobby, common area amenities and a new parking garage.
HERITAGE PLAZA has added a new exterior glass curtain wall and updates to the main lobby and 13th-floor sky lobby.
HOUSTON CENTER recently unveiled a years-long renovation featuring major updates to the four-building, 4.4-million-square-foot property. Brookfield Properties enlisted Gensler and Clark Condon to design the new space, which transformed the 1970s-era property into a vibrant, easy-to-navigate collection of buildings with new restaurants, shops and green space. The renovation embraces more open areas, both inside and out, and provides more natural light, creating a beautiful lobby experience. Various green spaces surround the complex and the central plaza’s monumental circular staircase is at its heart. Tenant amenities were at the top of the design list and the renovation included brand new conferencing venues and lobby co-working spaces, including two outdoor sky decks. The 10,000-square-foot fitness center has a unique view overlooking McKinney Street from the second floor of the complex. One of the largest renovations of 2020, the new Houston Center has everything one could want in an office environment.
JPMORGAN CHASE & CO. TOWER, formerly 600 Travis (aka Chase Tower) is getting sleek new updates this year. Sweeping changes include a dramatic trapezoidal glass pyramid entry and urban garden, collaborative work areas, conference center and sky lounge for the exclusive use of tenants. Don’t fret. It still stands as the tallest tower in Texas.
LIFE TIME WORK is a 56,000-square-foot fitness center and adjacent 38,000-square-foot co-working space at GreenStreet. The company describes the new facility as an athletic lifestyle resort, complete with conference rooms, dedicated desks and offices, phone booths and a shared kitchen. The Downtown location is the first within the 610-loop and is part of Life Time’s new work/life balance initiatives.
TC ENERGY CENTER, formerly Bank of America Center, with renovations including an upscale restaurant, creative office space, new tenant lounge and conference center, a lobby coffee bar and new mezzanine-level collaborative workspaces.
TEXAS TOWER, a new 47-story premier office tower with an 11-level garage is set to open in the fourth quarter of 2021 at the former site of the Houston Chronicle. The tower is placed diagonally on the site resulting in unique, more interesting view angles and a powerful civic presence.
There are approximately 11,000 residents Downtown and that number continues to rise with five multifamily properties, containing nearly 1,400 new additions.
BRAVA, a luxury 46-story high-rise with 373 units is under construction at the former site of the Houston Chronicle parking garage adjacent to Texas Tower. Once built, Brava will be Downtown’s tallest residential building.
FAIRFIELD RESIDENTIAL, a new 10-story, 286-unit Class A residential building.
MCKEE CITY LIVING is a fou-story, 120-unit multifamily affordable-workforce residential project in the Warehouse District. Amenities include a community activity space, business center, fitness center, courtyard pool and bicycle storage. With close access to Buffalo Bayou’s hiking trails and the METROrail, this development will bring new, affordable housing to Downtown. It will primarily serve individuals and families earning below 60 percent of the area’s median income, with approximately 20 percent being allocated to market-rate residents. This unique project is funded through the City of Houston’s Harvey Multifamily Program and is the first of its kind in Downtown.
SOVEREIGN THE BALLPARK is a new six-story, 229-unit residential building set to open in mid 2021.
A YET-UNNAMED 43-story tower by High Street Residential, the residential subsidiary of Trammell Crow Co., with 309 luxury apartment units, next to Discovery Green (808 Crawford).
FOOD & BEV
Downtown continues to draw award-winning chefs and restaurateurs with several new restaurants set to open in 2021, adding to the neighborhood’s incredible food scene.
COMMON BOND will open a full-service restaurant with a bakery, full bar and 4,900-square-foot dining area this year at Understory. In the meantime, they have opened a pop-up concept serving grab-and-go breakfast and lunch options, coffee, and a variety of pastries.
GEORGIA JAMES TAVERN, a casual offshoot of James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Shepherd’s upscale steakhouse Georgia James, will open at Market Square Tower this spring.
THE HALAL GUYS announced the opening of their fifth Houston-area location—and its largest one to-date—in the lobby of 609 Main at Texas.
THE NASH is an eclectic bar and restaurant with a menu developed by chef Omar Pereney that opened at The Star (the former Texaco building) in January. The menu features favorites such as Venezuelan tequeños and a 12-hour ragu pappardelle pasta.
THE PALM, an upscale steakhouse with a menu that includes Italian American dishes such as veal parmigiana, will open a second location at GreenStreet in the fourth quarter of 2021.
POST HOUSTON revealed their first set of food hall vendors: Salt & Time Butcher Shop, an award-winning butcher shop from Austin, joined by The Butcher’s Burger, a recently introduced burger concept from the owners of Salt & Time; Lea Jane’s Hot Chicken, a hot-chicken concept developed by Chef Nick Graves currently operating out of Kung Fu Saloon on Washington Avenue; Taco Fuego, a food truck from South Houston known for its charcoal-grilled dishes; GELU Italian Ice, a Colorado-based Italian ice shop serving more than 30 flavors of frozen treats that are dairy-free, gluten-free, fat-free and cholesterol-free; and, SOUPreme, a Vietnamese concept from Tuan and Thy Tran.
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE.
Enjoying Downtown keeps getting better with two new public space projects, a new hotel and the long-awaited redevelopment of the Barbara Jordan Post Office, aka POST Houston.
HYATT PLACE HOTEL opened in January after a redevelopment of the former Southwestern Bell Telephone Company building into a 16-story, 150-key hotel.
LYNN WYATT SQUARE for the Performing Arts, formerly Jones Plaza, will provide an inviting green oasis in the heart of the Theater District that enhances Downtown life and accommodates a wide range of outdoor performances and special events. The space is slated to open mid-2022.
POST HOUSTON, located at the far north end of Downtown, is set to partially open this fall. The project began in 2015 when Houston-based Lovett Commercial purchased the Barbara Jordan Post Office property with the idea to turn the space into a gigantic mixed-use development. And gigantic it is—at 500,000-square-feet, POST Houston is large enough to fit four Boeing 747 aircrafts inside. The 1930s-era building is broken into four parts: an international food hall, a concert venue, retail, and co-working space. But perhaps our favorite part of the project is the six-acre rooftop farm and park, where you’ll find one of the best views of Downtown Houston.
SOUTHERN DOWNTOWN PARK, a new neighborhood park at 1519 Fannin, will be redeveloped by the Downtown Redevelopment Authority starting this year. The park is close to the epicenter of many new residential projects in Downtown and will have an intimate, backyard-type feel, set on an L-shaped one-acre plot of land. The park will feature a fast-casual café operated by Tout Suite, a fenced-in dog run, and plenty of outdoor seating and lounging areas for a welcome respite from the liveliness of Downtown. A flexible lawn space will be programmed by the Downtown District with an events calendar geared to area residents. Expect a plethora of green, green and greener at this soon-to-be-named Downtown park.