Major makeover for historic part of Houston

January 29, 2010 4:31:58 PM PST
A historic part of downtown Houston will soon be a place for everyone to enjoy. Construction is underway on big changes to Market Square. The area, bounded by Travis, Milam, Preston and Congress Streets, will soon feature a dog park and a new restaurant.

You wouldn't know it by looking, but behind the construction cones and hurricane fence, the mud and rocks the construction workers manipulate, is one of the most historical sites in downtown Houston.

"Originally, it was plotted in 1836 when Houston was first started and it was intended for use by the capital building for the Republic of Texas," said Minnette Boesel, the mayor's assistant for cultural affairs. "Of course, we all know the capital ultimately moved to Austin."

It's Market Square Park in downtown Houston and it's getting a three-million dollar makeover. And the renovation aims to refresh the park to match the new breed of Houstonians that migrated to downtown over the last decade

"Right now, we are at a point where we have more than one thousand residents just a couple of blocks from the park," said Angie Bertinot with the Houston Downtown Management District. "We have these great old and new restaurants and watering holes that are in these historic buildings."

Also included are a dog run, a garden in honor of 9-11 victims, a cafe, free WiFi service and in the northeast corner, a history exhibit of photos from a local artist depicting the history of the square relating to the founding of the city in 1836.

"Aside from just business during the week, I think it will promote more visitors on the weekends as well," said Alicia Franklin, who works downtown.

"After class and on the weekends, if I wanted to come over, it would be really great, especially WiFi," said University of Houston-Downtown student Brittani Cryer.

So as the work continues, this historic piece of land is preparing to adapt to the new age Houstonian.

"We have a new audience downtown, a very exciting time for the city and we are going to be addressing the needs of people downtown," said Boesel.

Funding comes from the Downtown Redevelopment Authority tax increment reinvestment zone. And the grand opening is appropriately set for August to celebrate Houstons 174th birthday. Call it a birthday gift to the Bayou City.