Houston: Flood-Prone Downtown Landmark to Reopen in November
Feature Illustration (above): Rendering of the north elevation of the 901 Commerce building reveals its open-air concept. Courtesy: Diamond Development+Construction.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Houston (Harris County) — Renovations have begun at the flood-prone former Spaghetti Warehouse building, 901 Commerce Street, a landmark building in the Main Street/Market Square Historic District.
In May, the city granted Certificate of Appropriateness on the designs and the developer, Diamond Development + Construction Group started construction. The project schedule calls for completion by Nov. 15, according to a report filed in March with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.
Diamond Development stated to the TDLR that the project cost estimate is $1.6 million. Diamond Development does its architectural and construction documents in-house.
901 Commerce was constructed in 1912 on an slope at the banks of the Buffalo Bayou. Because of the bayou’s proximity, it has been prone to flooding over the past century. Business operations were forced to close most recently because of Hurricane Harvey.
Clockwise from lower left: A Google Earth view of 901 Commerce shows is proximity to Buffalo Bayou; the north side of the building (center) and downtown in the background; a graffiti artist scrawled a prescient statement on the lower right corner of the north wall; it has since been removed. Images: Google Streets.
The Spaghetti Warehouse chain acquired the property in 1988. Diamond Development purchased it June 20, 2018 and submitted plans with the city last summer for its renovation.
Diamond Development’s concept starts with the idea that it’s best not to fight Mother Nature. If the building is likely to experience flooding, it should be designed for that. It is being remade into an open-air street market with a second story bar.
The south face that fronts Commerce Street. Courtesy: Diamond Development+Construction.
This requires use of materials that resist molding and the knocking out of sections of wall so that the interiors receive a constant breeze–when there is a breeze.
Since 901 Commerce was constructed on a steep slope, it is a two- and three-story building with a total area of 22,608 square feet.
The west elevation. Courtesy: Diamond Development+Construction.
It’s two stories at Commerce Street, but the lower portion follows the slope to allow for a third level next to the north parking lot. The bottom level is to be used for truck deliveries.
The east elevation. Courtesy: Diamond Development+Construction.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.