August 23, 2007
Downtown towers sprouting up everywhere

More downtown construction activity coming soon.

Hines, the Houston-based firm that develops real estate across the globe, is planning its newest building in the heart of its hometown.

The new project, to be called MainPlace, will be a 46-story, 1 million-square-foot office building at 811 Main St. between Walker and Rusk, the company said Tuesday.

The modern glass tower will replace a series of worn-out structures, including the Montagu Hotel, situated on "one of the most blighted blocks in downtown," the company said.

"We believe there will be a tremendous outpouring of improvement on adjacent blocks," said Mark Cover, an executive vice president with Hines.

Yeah, that block could stand a little improvement. There's others as well - feel free to name names in the comments. The Press had an interesting but ultimately frustrating story about eyesore buildings, mostly downtown, that still stand after years of neglect and tax delinquency; I say frustrating because it was hard to tell where some of these buildings were. Maybe someday I'll get to read an article about those blighted blocks getting a facelift.

As the company begins to prepare its site this week for construction, at least three other developers are moving forward with plans for their own top-class office towers.

While none of the firms has secured a main tenant for any of the buildings -- once considered a prerequisite to breaking ground -- each has expressed confidence in its abilities to do so.

"There's certainly enough demand to fill more than one building," said Matt Khourie, president of the U.S. central region for Trammell Crow Co., which said it will break ground early next year on a 30-story tower near Discovery Green, downtown's new park. "Whether there's enough to fill all four buildings, the market's going to have to dictate that."

We heard about some of these projects back in March. It's still a little weird to see such things built on spec - it's like the office space bust of the late 80s never happened - but I'll take it as a positive sign of things to come. We'll see.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 23, 2007 to Elsewhere in Houston