Caydon Improves Walkable Concept at Main Midtown High-Rise Project
Texas Construction News from Virtual Builders Exchange
Posted: 5-26-2017, 2:15 p.m.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Houston (Harris County) – The Houston Planning Commission revisited the 27-story Midtown project, granting a variance to allow canopies to encroach 10 feet into the visibility triangles on all abutting streets.
Caydon Property Group, an Australian commercial real estate developer with a U.S. division, Caydon USA, introduced the proposal for Main Midtown last year. This is a $200 million project to bring a high-rise with 357 studio, one and two bedroom apartments.
In addition to the 342,000 square feet of residential space, plans include 12,000 square feet of retail space for shops and restaurants.
Located at 2850 Fannin Street, the Main Midtown occupies a city block and is in front of the Main Street light rail line.
At the Thursday, May 25 meeting, the commission was asked for a variance from the standard clearance for visibility triangles at street intersections.
January 2017 image of the demolition work as crews prepare the site for Main Midtown at Main and Taum Streets. Photo courtesy of Google Maps.
During the staff presentation, it was noted that a holistic approach has been taken to plan this project as an urban walkable development on all four sides of the site. This includes locating building service spaces on Tuam and Fannin Streets to consolidate and minimize their impact on the overall development.
A previous variance was given for parking to account for plans to provide off-site parking, “with the plan that residents are being encouraged to walk in order to interface with the Midtown Area,” staff said.
The ordinance requires a canopy be at least 20 feet high at the corners, but Caydon sought to lower the height to 10 feet.
Architectural renderings show wide pedestrian sidewalks suitable for sidewalk café service. Staff noted the pedestrian realms are 18.2 feet on Drew Street, 15.5 feet on Taum Street and 20 feet on Main Street.
“Further, the principal streets that frame the development are both one-way, low-speed thoroughfares,” staff said in its recommendation.
“Without consideration of the variance request, the quality of the project will be severely compromised. The end result will be cutoff canopies that will be incompatible with the cohesive pedestrian realm that wraps around every block face of the mixed-use center.”
Dan Barnum, a retired architect and spokesman for the Midtown Houston Urban Planning Committee, spoke in favor of the canopy design.
“We want to encourage walkability in Midtown and particularly along Main Street where it has been very much discouraged by Public Works when they rebuilt Main Street for the light rail system,” Barnum said. “This will encourage it by putting canopies along Main Street the way it was done years ago for the Rice Hotel. It’s worked there for a century. We hope that it will work for (the) Caydon development for another century.”
An office building on the site was demolished earlier this year, as part of site preparations for the new construction. The project site is across Main Street from the Superblock, a major mixed-use redevelopment project on six acres that began in 2015.
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.