If you thought the revitalization of downtown Houston was over, you were mistaken. The city continues to reinvent itself — adding new hotels, attractions, urban parks and retail districts.
Market Square Park, which opened in August 2010, occupies the site of Houston’s original City Hall in the heart of the historic district. The park’s lawn is bordered by Congress, Travis, Preston and Milam streets and features public art from national and local artists. A $35 million African Forest opened late last year at the Houston Zoo, which offers groups a popular behind-the-scenes tour. Other new attractions include the Tellepsen Family Downtown YMCA, a $47-million LEED Gold-certified fitness facility that is accessible to guests staying at downtown hotels and a “Where the Chefs Eat” culinary tour.
The Houston Ballet’s 115,000-sq. ft., $53-million Center for Dance building is scheduled to open downtown in April 2011. Also in development is the West Ave mixed-use center. Some retail and restaurant outlets already have opened; others are expected to open in the spring.
New hotels include the $2 million, New Orleans-style La Maison bed and breakfast and a 262-room Embassy Suites Downtown hotel, which will open this month adjacent to the George R. Brown Convention Center and Discovery Green downtown park with 6,000 square feet of meeting space. In April, the 267-room Westin Houston Memorial City is expected to open in West Houston with more than 30,000 square feet of meeting space. And the 135-room Hotel ICON, housed in the historic Union National Bank building, is undergoing renovations and will be rebranded later this year.