by John Egan

This fall, the Houston Convention District will be getting a java jolt.

Houston First Corp. has signed a licensing deal with Starbucks to sell the coffee giant's products in a 4,000-square-foot shop planned for the ground-floor lobby of Hilton Americas-Houston. Officials say it'll be one of the largest coffee shops in Texas; the average Starbucks measures 1,700 square feet.

The 1,200-room, 24-story Hilton Americas-Houston, which is connected to the George R. Brown Convention Center via sky bridge, will be one of the first places in Texas to offer Starbucks Evenings service, now available at close to 40 Starbucks in the U.S. After 4 p.m. each day, beer, wine, appetizers and desserts are available at Starbucks Evenings spots.

"This will become an eye-opener for downtown visitors for years to come," said Ric Campo, chairman of Houston First.

The Starbucks at Hilton Americas-Houston is scheduled to open in October. Joe Palmieri, Hilton Americas-Houston's general manager, said it'll be business as usual at the hotel while construction is underway.

In addition to coffee, beer and wine, the store will offer Starbucks Reserve, which is sold at select locations in Houston. Handpicked by Starbucks, Reserve coffee is roasted then delivered to certain retail outlets and brewed for individual orders.

Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO of Houston First, said the Starbucks store will help create an even more pedestrian-friendly environment in the area surrounding the convention center.

"It is significant that it will have signage on the Hilton façade and exterior-facing doors so that visitors will know it's there," Ullrich said.

"We are also replacing the glazing on the windows facing Discovery Green. This will allow passers-by on the sidewalk to see the interior of the new Starbucks and create a more interactive pedestrian experience."

The planned Starbucks is one small part of the evolution of the Houston Convention District.

A major component of the emerging district is the Marriott Marquis Houston, which will be connected by sky bridge to the convention center. The 1,000-room, 29-story hotel is set to open in September 2016. It will feature 166,000 square feet of meeting, banquet and exhibition space, along with five restaurants.

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