January 26, 2006
Houston Pavilions

I've noted before the development of a downtown park/retail/entertainment area, to be called Houston Pavilions. The Chron now reports that it will contain a big music venue as a key component.

A proposed $200 million real estate project near the convention center has landed its first big tenant, moving the project a step closer to reality.

The developers of Houston Pavilions, a shopping, entertainment, office and residential complex to be built on three blocks of prime downtown land, planned to announce at a news conference today that House of Blues has signed the first major retail lease in the project.

Developers Geoffrey Jones and William Denton, who set the wheels in motion for the Pavilions more than two years ago, said they expect to begin construction this spring.

That's pretty big news, and seeing that happen makes this project look a lot more realistic than I first thought it was. I'm curious how Clear Channel will react to having this kind of competition for the Verizon Theater nearby. I daresay the two sites will feature mostly different kinds of acts, but having seen Bonnie Raitt and Keb Mo at the Verizon (admittedly, several years ago), I can say there is some overlap.

Actually, perhaps the Hard Rock Cafe, next door to the Verizon, ought to be worried, since now there's another music-themed eatery in the neighborhood. We shall see.

This will be the first Houston location for Los Angeles-based House of Blues Entertainment, a national chain of venues famous for its blues, rock and jazz concerts and Sunday gospel brunches.

Liam Thornton, the company's senior vice president of development, said House of Blues often chooses changing inner-city areas for its outlets.

"We like to go into urban areas," he said. "We like to be pioneering."

With its roughly 3,700 residents, downtown Houston still doesn't have the critical mass of residents that some retailers typically require to open locations. But Thornton said he's not worried.

"Because we're destination entertainment, we're basically a traffic generator," he said.

Indeed, the developers said the venue will attract customers from far beyond the city center, which will help bring in additional retailers.

House of Blues is expected to open by the fourth quarter of next year, when the developers said the Houston Pavilions will be completed.

Hope they're right about drawing in people from elsewhere. Certainly this should be attractive to anyone who lives within walking distance of a light rail stop. Beyond that, they better have enough parking.

Houstonist has more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 26, 2006 to Elsewhere in Houston | TrackBack

I hope it's more successful than the Pavillion in San Jose was. They rarely had high occupancy and things finally got so bad that the city all but forced out the best thing in downtown SJ, San Jose Live, a fabulous sports bar. It was in San Jose Live, in March 1996, that I watched SJSU's men's basketball team, the 64th seed, play Kentucky and hold their own for the first 16 minutes of the game. It was absolutely incredible. We even had the lead a few times. 'Course, then they put in their bench players and we put in ours, and they kicked our butts. But it was fun while it lasted.

Anyway. I think this could be a really great attraction for downtown. It's pretty sad right now. I'm glad they're putting it all right by Light Rail, too. They picked a good location.

Posted by: Sue on January 26, 2006 8:13 AM

Kuff, there's plenty of parking downtown. This was brought up when the baseball field was being built. Lots of anxiety about whether there would be enough parking, traffic congestion, etc. The downtown management district has good planning for events and downtown is the one place in the city with enough capacity to absorb many, many more events.

The biggest problem downtown faces is a lack of curb space - buses, buses, buses, parking garage entrances, taxicabs, retail parking meters, valets and others are all duking it out over the same linear feet of curb space. It is only going to get worse. And the only new "curb space" in downtown is the edge of the light rail platforms.

Posted by: John D. Wilson on January 26, 2006 9:03 AM