Exciting news is happening around town.
While searching online for recent news articles, I came across a big project here in our beloved city of Houston. I am sure if you commute past downtown or watch the news you have heard about the construction site near George R. Brown Convention Center. The article below highlights a great background of the project and pictures credited to Houston Chronicle, staff Gary Coronado. Project is to be completed by next Labor Day!
Convention center upgrades designed to improve the experience
Improvements on east side of downtown to add appeal for residents, workers and visitors
September 21, 2015 Updated: September 21, 2015 11:13pm
From a balcony off the George R. Brown Convention Center on Monday, downtown officials gestured toward the 1,000-room Marriott Marquis under development next door and at the street below them, soon to become a much more inviting space, they said, with new restaurants, seating and oversized umbrellas providing shade.
These improvements are part of the $1.5 billion worth of public and private development work underway on the east side of downtown, which is being revamped to make it more appealing to residents, workers and visitors.
Officials from Houston First, a quasi-public agency that manages Houston’s convention facilities, toured with a small group through the area Monday, showing off some of the changes specific to the Brown center at a cost of $175 million:
A plaza and at least four restaurants at the front of the building, with a raised outdoor seating area called “the wharf,” a nod to the building’s nautical theme.
The street in front of the convention center is going from six lanes to two, and Houston First will be able to close the space entirely for events.
Buses that once clogged the area in front of the building will be moved to either side of it in new transit centers.
A canopy on the front of the building will provide shade, and ultra-transparent glass will offer skyline views and let the public look inside.
A new office building and 1,900-car parking garage on the north side of the Brown center.
“A lot of people come by the convention center and don’t know what’s happening there,” project architect Marie Hoak said.
When the improvements are done, there will be 100,000 square feet of new concourse and registration space, but the exhibition space will shrink to 740,000 square feet, from 840,000. That won’t make a material difference for the conventions held there, said John Solis, Houston First senior vice president of convention sales.
The center handles about 25 major conventions a year, and the group hopes to increase that to 30.
Houston First, which is funded primarily by hotel occupancy taxes, convention center and parking revenue, is evaluating restaurateurs who have submitted proposals. The restaurants will be accessible from inside the center or from the street.
Houston First will be among the groups to occupy the new 10-story Partnership Tower. It will be joined by the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston, the Harris County Houston Sports Authority and the Greater Houston Partnership in some 100,000 square feet.
The estimated completion date for the improvements is next Labor Day. The office building should be ready earlier.
The work represents the newest phase of improvements. A future plan calls for almost doubling the size of the convention space on several blocks just south of the building.