Houston Pavilions tenants keep hope

March 16, 2009 3:53:42 PM PDT
The developers behind the Houston Pavilions retail and entertainment venue promised to help re-energize downtown, but when the group opened the new $170 million dollar complex back in October, they had no idea the economy was about to take a turn. PHOTOS
- Scenes from Houston Pavilions downtown

"It's all a contest, you get a customer in here, they already have their favorite Mexican restaurant, maybe it's us maybe it's not, but we have to win them over," said Phillip Torres of Guadalajara del Centro

With that competitive spirit the restaurateur pushes to make his latest venture, Guadalajara del Centro, a downtown Houston staple.

"This store is just three and a half weeks old and it has really, really taken off for lunch," he told us.

The Houston Pavilions takes up a whopping four city blocks right near Main Street in the center of downtown.

"Basically we say it's an urban retail entertainment project," said developer Bill Denton.

Guadalajara's isn't the only business that believes being in the heart of downtown will eventually bring success. So far the business at the House of Blues is exceeding expectations.

"Being so close to Discovery Green, The Toyota Center, Minute Maid Park and just being this close to downtown in general, It's really an ideal location," said House of Blues Marketing Manager Brian Distefano.

Still in these tough economic times, even an ideal location brings no guarantees. Just a handful of retail stores have moved into Houston Pavilions which is far below what developers had hoped for at this point.

"We're not insulated from the world global meltdown and this is the worst retail environment in the last 40 years," Denton said.

Anchor retailers BCBG and Forever 21 are open and tell us they're doing alright with customers, especially during lunch time and large events.

But there have been other setbacks.

The most glaring example is Lucky Strike Lanes. The project for now is on hold while the companies involved look for new investors. Still planners promise the popular bowling alley is coming and will bring with it plenty of business.

The Pavilion's developers hope by summer those "coming soon" signs will be replaced with "now open." Like the new Clique salon that comes complete with a swanky leather lounge and color bar.

"We'll get there we have the staying power and we'll see it through," said Denton. Lucky Strike Lanes is said to be close to securing new investors. Owners expect the bowling alley to open by early summer.

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