HOUSTON – The historic Stowers Furniture building in downtown Houston is being redeveloped into a 173-room Aloft hotel.
Built in 1913, the 10-story Stowers building is located at 820 Fannin at Walker Street adjacent to the BG Group Place tower.
Construction is underway and the Aloft hotel, part of the Starwood Hotels chain, will open next summer, said Houston developer William R. Franks, who is working with Trend Hospitality to develop the hotel. Franks has involved in a number of historic downtown Houston redevelopment projects over the years, including the recently completed J.W. Marriott.
The Aloft/Stowers building, designed over a century ago by architects Green & Finger, is an example of the early twentieth century high-rise commercial style architecture in Houston. While the historic brick facade will remain in place, the interior will be repurposed into a Mid-Century modern hotel.
The building is constructed of reinforced concrete with a glazed white brick veneer and a projecting pressed metal cornice which represents early high-rise construction design and construction methods.
Arch-Con, a Houston construction firm led by Michael Scheurich, is the general contractor for the hotel redevelopment.
“The Aloft Hotel conversion of the Stowers Building is a spectacular project. It is a special building because it housed all operations of the furniture company. Therefore, nearly every floor has a different floor to ceiling height,” Scheurich said. “The first two floors were showrooms and very ornate.”
The guest rooms in Aloft hotel will all be different because the furniture company used the building for so many different purposes of different floors at the same time – retail sales, back-office operations, manufacturing and warehousing. Some floors have 10-foot ceilings and some have 18-foot ceilings.
“The hotel rooms will have exposed ceilings so nearly every floor will be unique. The column sizes start out very large on the ground floor and get skinnier as the structure gets taller, which is much different than modern day designs,” Scheurich said. “Finally, we are going to reinforce the tenth floor and install a new pool on the roof.“
With 100 Aloft hotels open and more under development, Starwood describes its Aloft brand as a “fresh approach to the traditional staid hotel landscape. For the ‘always on’ next generation of traveler, the Aloft brand offers a tech-forward, vibrant experience and a modern style that is different by design.”
Said Nazar K. Momin, President of Houston-based Trend Hospitality: “The Aloft project will also help fuel the city’s economic growth, generate tax revenue for the city, create jobs and increase the supply of high-caliber hotel rooms in close proximity to the convention center.”
“At a time when too many of our historic structures are being lost to the bulldozer, I am pleased to see this property being reborn,” said Mayor Annise Parker in a written statement. “This project will reinvigorate an abandoned and problematic corner of downtown and provide yet another hotel option for visitors wanting to enjoy downtown’s abundant nightlife, theater and recreational opportunities.”
Houston, chosen as the site of the 2017 Super Bowl, has been expanding its downtown hotel inventory, which currently stands at 16 hotels with 5,500 rooms.
John Keeling, chair of the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston, has said downtown Houston is “under hoteled” and needs more hotels to serve a city of its size and have adequate hotels for conventions.
Currently, seven hotels with 2,081 rooms are under construction in downtown and more are planned, according to Laura Van Ness of the Central Houston Inc. organization.
Improvements are also underway at the George R. Brown Convention Center and the 1,000-room Marriott Marquis is under construction across the street from the convention facilities.
Stamford, Conn.-based Starwood recently announced it is opening nine Aloft-brand hotels in Texas by 2018, including the one in the Stowers Furniture building.
“We look forward to the opening of Aloft Houston Downtown, which will be the brand’s second hotel in Houston and one of three new hotels opening in this market in the next two years,” said Allison Reid, Senior Vice President of North America Development for Starwood. “Aloft is attracting a growing number of adaptive re-use projects as it continues its aggressive expansion in markets across North America and beyond.”
Aloft Houston Downtown will be located on Block 93, adjacent to the 46-story BG Group Place, an office tower developed by Hines and completed in 2011. The block is bounded by Main, Walker, Fannin and Rusk streets, about six blocks from the convention center.
By Ralph Bivins, Editor, Realty News Report