Here's another story about another possible model for a possibly profitable Astrodome hotel/convention center.
Grapevine, a small city on Dallas' outskirts, is home to one of the Dome's distant spawn, the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center.
And this hotel may serve as a model in the search for a second life for the venerable Houston landmark that many Houstonians hope can avoid the wrecking ball.
"Gaylord Hotels have shown a good example and good business model," said Scott Hanson, president of Astrodome Redevelopment Co., which has proposed turning county-owned Reliant Astrodome into an upscale convention hotel.
"It has been a successful business model for them. We want to consider what they've done and be like them but have some unique characteristics."
With 1,511 hotel rooms constructed around a 2.5-acre main atrium and two connecting smaller atriums, the Gaylord Texan provides a bright, modern take on cavernous, domed structures.
Conventioneers stroll on walkways past restaurants, fake canyons, an Alamo façade, thousands of trees and plants, and a section reminiscent of the San Antonio River Walk.
What I don't get, and what none of these articles have ever really answered for me, is why anyone thinks this location will be a good one for a hotel/convention center arrangement. The main objection to it, beyond the questionable economics of convention centers in the first place, is that this is a crappy location in which to stuff a whole bunch of people who'll want to go out for lunch and after-convention drinks and entertainment all at approximaterly the same time. There's no place to go that's in walking distance, unlike hotels downtown, in the Galleria area, or even in places like Greenway Plaza. The light rail will help, but speaking as someone who works one stop up from the Dome, there's not much to eat along the rail line until you get to at least the Museum District. All that in turn means lots of cars and driving for hotel guests, which is problematic because the roads that front the Dome and the Reliant Center back up easily. And who wants to drive around an unfamilar town in search of a meal? Especially since - again - there's precious little in terms of quality restaurants in the vicinity.
I know we want to do something useful with the Dome property, and maybe I'm just being excessively negative about this idea. Maybe this is the most feasible thing to do economically, I don't know. And who knows, maybe having the Dome Hotel in place would spur some commercial development in the area - Lord knows there's plenty of empty lots nearby on Main and Old Spanish Trail. I'm just saying that as things stand now, I'm pessimistic, and all the success stories from elsewhere can't do anything about that. And I see that I'm not the only one who feels this way.Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 19, 2005 to Elsewhere in Houston | TrackBack