Feature Illustration: Gensler concept rendering of a land and sea museum facility. Courtesy: Houston Maritime Museum.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Houston (Harris County) — A Chicago-based developer’s plans for a mixed-use multifamily project to be located next to the Houston Maritime Museum in the EaDo District were delayed over city staff’s concerns about where to place the building lines.
Meanwhile, the Maritime Museum reopened in temporary quarters. Plans for a permanent home in the Port of Houston were delayed by Hurricane Harvey and a lag in fundraising.
The Planning Commission deferred the project at its Feb. 14 session without comment. Staff requested the delay on grounds additional information was needed on Marquette’s reluctance to widen Marsh Street and its request for reduced building lines on all sides of a proposed new plat.
The elevations describe a nine-story monolithic structure with a height of 97 feet-8 inches. Brininstool+Lynch of Chicago is the architect.
North elevation (above) along Navigation Boulevard of Marquette’s proposed mixed-use multifamily-retail project. East elevation (below) of the building, as it would appear along McAlpine Alley. Courtesy: Marquette Companies.
The reference to Marsh Street (also spelled Marsch Street in the city documents) is unclear to VBX, since there is no Marsch (or Marsch) Street on city maps or on the plat. This may be a reference to a proposed new right of way easement that would separate the Marquette project from the office building that is the temporary home of the Houston Maritime Museum.
KBRN LLC is the owner of record for the lot and Marquette has the east portion of the lot under contract.
The office building was originally constructed in 1967 as a school and was owned by the Houston Independent School District until 2007. It has since changed hands several times. The portion under consideration is mostly a green lawn with some surface parking on the south end.
According to the staff’s brief to the commissioners, Marquette proposes a mixed use project referred to as EaDo Navigation that will include 5,703 square feet of retail space on the north side and 3,129 square feet of retail on the south side. The residential portion will include lobby entrances on the northeast and southeast corners.
Site plan for Marquette’s EaDo Navigation project. Courtesy: Marquette Companies.
“There will be ground floor commercial spaces with glass wall front on both Navigation and Canal. Garage parking and residential units will be above.
“Access to the garage will be taken from an adjacent access easement which is shared with the property to the west on this same block. No access will be taken from McAlpine on the east side.
“No one has been able to determine how McAlpine was created, likely prior to 1900, but the Settegast family quit-claimed the 22-foot McAlpine Alley to the City of Houston in 1949.
“The paving width on this alley varies but is generally 12 feet. Since McAlpine is an alley, the new building will not setback from that property line.
“The glass-front commercial space on the ground floor facing both Canal and Navigation will encourage pedestrian traffic along these streets by providing views of activities and merchandise, giving vitality to the street scene.
“Along Navigation, the pedestrian realm is to be 20 feet from the face of the building to the back of curb. Most of this area will be paved, including an 8-foot unobstructed sidewalk. There will be a 5-foot planting zone and an area for tables and chairs for a sidewalk café.
“Along Canal, the pedestrian realm will be 15 feet and will have a 10-foot sidewalk and a 5-foot planting zone.
“The reduced setbacks and enhanced pedestrian realms are necessary to allow the neighborhood to reach its full potential for residents in this century as the change in land use goes from predominantly industrial to largely residential.”
Houston Maritime Museum Status
Gensler’s early concept of the main entrance to the new Houston Maritime Museum. Courtesy: HMM and Gensler.
The museum reopened Jan. 22 in the former HISD school building. It was originally in a retrofitted residential home, but had been on hiatus for six months while staff and volunteers prepared for the move.
In March 2016, the museum directors announced plans to relocation to the Port of Houston. Construction was to have begun mid-2018 on a stunning, 38,00-square-foot, multi-story structure that included a full-size ship exhibit docked on the port side of a campus that was to be leased from the port authority.
The project has been supported by Frost Bank. As described in this Vimeo video, Gensler has been designing the plans at discount rates and Tellepsen was identified as the contractor. However, the project came with a steep price tag of $45 million to $50 million.
When the project was announced, the intention was to have the permanent facility open by the end of 2019. That timeline was dependent on the success of the capital campaign, which, among other factors has been affected by Hurricane Harvey. It’s unclear when construction will begin, but the museum board of directors still have ambitions of opening the new facility on the banks of Buffalo Bayou in a few years.