A couple of highly anticipated downtown real estate projects are expected to get started this month, lifting a cloud of uncertainty that often hangs over much-touted developments — some of which never see the light of day.
Finger Cos. will officially break ground in March on the first new ground-up apartment tower to be built in this area in decades with the pouring of its slab, but construction trucks were set to be on-site by today, according to Houston developer Marvy Finger.
The 37-story One Park Place will contain 346 upscale apartments overlooking the new city park Discovery Green, which is being developed across the street with fountains and gardens as well as two restaurants run by the Schiller Del Grande Restaurant Group, creator of Cafe Annie, Cafe Express and Taco Milagro.
The high-rise at McKinney and Austin is expected to have a specialty grocer, wine store, coffee shop and cafe.
The city has granted a foundation permit for the project and plans for the structure are still in the review process, according to Wes Johnson of the city's public works and engineering department.
A nearby development set to transform three blocks is also moving closer to reality.
The Houston Pavilions is scheduled to break ground by the third week of this month, according to its developers.
"The project will be completed in October of 2008 as originally planned," William Denton and Geoffrey Jones said in an e-mail.
It should have received a foundation permit late last week, Johnson said.
Bounded by Dallas, Polk, Main and Caroline, the project is planned as a retail, entertainment and office destination.
The developers said about half the space has been leased. House of Blues and the Lucky Strike bowling concept, along with McCormick & Schmick's, Red Cat Jazz Cafe and Lawry's, the Prime Rib, have signed up for space.
Houston Pavilions won't have a residential component as once envisioned, but another nearby property — the long-vacant Texaco Building — is said to be the next residential conversion project with more than 400 units.
The broker involved with the building couldn't be reached for more details.
Real estate observers say the new projects will give a major boost to downtown's residential market.
"It'll be a real turning point for downtown residential," said David Cook, a real estate broker with Cushman & Wakefield who's active in the area.