Houston First Corp. says it's received 11 responses to a request for qualifications (RFQ) for a developer to build a second convention center hotel near the George R. Brown Convention Center.
The deadline for the RFQ was April 20. The development-design teams that met the deadline include:
• Discovery Central Development Team
• Houston Now
• Matthews Southwest
• Parkway Service Group, LLC
• Product Marketing International
• Rida Development
• Trammell Crow
• TRT Holdings/Omni Hotel
• White Lodging
Houston First, which manages the GRB and owns the Hilton Americas-Houston, the original convention headquarters hotel, wants a privately financed hotel with limited public participation. The hotel would be within a two-block radius of the GRB with at least 1,000 rooms, a climate-controlled connection to the convention center and 800 parking spaces. Houston First says it will review the qualifications of each team and expects to recommend one development team to the corporation's board this summer.
"We are ready to roll up our sleeves and begin the review of these development teams," said Ric Campo, who chairs the board. "Undertaking a project of this magnitude requires a team with a proven track record of success, financial strength and a vision of Houston's future.
The development team chosen by Houston First will also be asked to propose commercial and residential space as part of the hotel project. That's part of a new master plan for the Convention District that was unveiled earlier this year.
Increasing the number of Downtown hotel rooms is the most immediate objective of the master plan, which calls for an expanded Convention District with more retail and residential development to attract more conventions to Houston by 2025. According to the plan, Houston needs at least 2,000 hotel rooms in the area surrounding the George R. Brown. Houston currently has 2,955 hotel rooms within a 10-minute walk of the downtown convention center, far fewer than most of its competitor cities.
The plan also envisions the eventual expansion of the George R. Brown on its south end and a new garage on the building's north side. The plan also contemplates that, ultimately, a hotel would sit near each of the convention center's four corners, including the Hilton Americas-Houston, which opened in 2003.