Leaders trying to grow downtown Houston's residential capacity

The city wants you to consider living in the heart of downtown. But first, they're trying to attract developers to build
April 14, 2014 3:46:52 PM PDT
Looking for a new place to call home? The city wants you to consider living in the heart of downtown. But first, they're trying to attract developers to build.

It's been a problem in downtown Houston for decades; people work there but no one lives in it. It's unusual, especially for such a big city, so that's why the city started initiating a 380-Agreement. Now they're trying to make it even bigger.

The ability to bike or walk to work is the main reason Samaan Aziz chose to live downtown when he moved to Houston, but he was surprised by what he found.

"When I first moved here, it was a little interesting how this area wasn't developed. People work down here, but don't live down here," he said.

Two years ago, frustrated by the lack of residential growth, Houston's Downtown District and the city put together a 380-Agreement, giving developers who built specific types of residential units in downtown some tax incentives.

Since the agreement in mid-2012, around nine projects have begun in the area. Now supporters are ready to expand, adding the area west of Main Street to the existing 380-Agreement.

"Developers don't want to be alone. This is one of those things where I think it's helpful to have other competitive products in the market at the same time, so downtown will put itself on the map," Downtown District President Bob Eury said.

The area around Market Square has two potential residential high-rises, and SkyHouse along Main Street is already under construction. The idea being that if you attract more residents now, more retail will follow.

"The more people that live down here, the more stuff there will be to do," downtown Houston resident Tamara Cox said.

And Aziz is one resident eager for more neighbors.

"So you can live, work, and also go out here. I think that's starting to happen," he said.

City Council meets on Wednesday, and they're expected to vote on whether to approve this 380-Agreement.