City officials unveiled plans in early October for the Center for Texas Cultural Heritage-a $40 million project that will serve as a visitors' center, museum and tourism hub in Downtown Houston.

At a kickoff event held Oct. 4, Mayor Annise Parker and others discussed the importance of the new center, which will be a place for visitors to explore and experience the history that built and continues to define Houston and the region. Project Chairman John Nau also announced his contribution of $8 million to the $40 million fundraising goal. Nau will also lead the fundraising effort for the project, which is set to break ground late next year.

"The Center for Texas Cultural Heritage will become the flagship for cultural and heritage study, a gateway for heritage tourism, and an essential amenity to attract visitors to southeast Texas," says Mayor Annise Parker. "The center will immerse visitors in authentic stories of the visionaries and entrepreneurs who built and defined our region - and who perpetuate the living spirit of Texas."

The center will be comprised of a multi-story, 60,000-square-foot facility. It will include the only two remaining structures from Houston's original Quality Hill neighborhood -the Foley and Cohn homes. Located between the George R. Brown Convention Center, Discovery Green and Minute Maid Park, the center will take up the block bordered by Texas Avenue, Capitol Street, Hamilton Street and Avenida de las Americas.

The Center will introduce visitors to the historic sites and offerings of southeast Texas, which includes a number of counties such as Brazoria, Brazos, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Jackson, Lavaca, Matagorda, Montgomery and Walker just to name a few.

The center will also highlight historical and archeological treasures in the region such as Johnson Space Center, Galveston Bay, the San Jacinto Monument, the Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, and Spindletop to name a few. For visiting business people, conventioneers, tourists and heritage visitors, the center will help turn a one-day visit into a multi-day adventure.

Officials cited a study that shows the center has the potential to create $31.4 million in additional tourism revenue and generate $9.5 million in industry earnings.