Originally Posted by BevoLJ
I goto Houston to visit family there anywhere from 10-15 times a year, and I haven't had any reason to goto Downtown Houston for about 10 year now. And that was for when the new baseball stadium opened and we just drove there and back over to my sisters over by that huge church on Voss and Woodway. I don't get the impression that my family there ever really go downtown either.
In Austin however we are always downtown. I think Jam nailed it as to why we never go downtown in Houston when he said "Austin DT is the only game in town... Houston has so many other options." While in Houston we spend a ton of time down in the Post Oak area. Everything we need or want to do is there. The closest we ever really get is the area north of Rice or by M.D. Anderson which is where most of my family works.
Also does Houston's downtown have anything like the Town Lake Hike and Bike trail in Austin? I think that Town Lake and the trails is a big part of why the retail area of second is doing so well. I think it has had a lot more to do with it than the sharp rise in the downtown condo population. Just guesses. There probably is something like that in Houston, I'm just not as familiar with its downtown to know. If not a destination "Central Park" type place with lots of late afternoon and early evening foot and bike traffic is always good for creating retail and creating more before/after-office hours pedestrian traffic.
I fully agree with this assessment. Houston's Downtown does have some things to do, but most Houstonians have either never been to Downtown or they only go for one very specific purpose like the Opera, Baseball Game, to get a Passport, etc., and then never return. City personality has a bit to do with it too... Houstonians, aren't very exploratory (at least not on foot or by bike) the way Austinites are. But most of all, people in Houston just don't think of Downtown as anything but a stuffy business place, and somewhere that many people have no reason to go.
I had this conversation with a co-worker the other day. She was looking for a specific gift for her husband, and had found the item on the Macy's website. She didn't order it, but started going around to different Macy's in her area (Spring, the Woodlands), of which there are several stores she checked. She even checked the Macy's in the Galleria and still couldn't find it. On the day she needed the gift (now too late to order it), I asked her if she had tried the Macy's in Downtown. She said "there's a Macy's store in Downtown? Well, I prefer shopping at the larger stores, not some sub-par setup". Somehow this woman had worked at UofH (like 5 mins from Downtown) for 6 years, and never knew of the place. She went during her lunch break, found the exact gift she was looking for, and then raved about it for the rest of the work week.
Not an uncommon event, mind you... Houstonians are just completely uneducated about their Downtown. Frankly, it intimidates many people. Whereas in cities like Austin or San Antonio, Downtown is a regular staple in the cities' culture.