The George R. Brown Convention Center has released its 2025 master plan, which calls for an expanded downtown convention district. The addition of at least 2,000 hotel rooms is the most immediate objective of the initiative, with retail and residential development planned to attract more convention business to Houston. Houston currently has 2,955 hotel rooms within a 10-minute walk of the George R. Brown Convention Center, fewer than most of its competitor cities.
“This year marks the 25th anniversary of the George R. Brown, and we’re committed to making our Convention District everything it can be in the years ahead,” says Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO of Houston First Corporation, which oversees management of the city-owned convention center. “Our plans call for soliciting the best ideas from the development community to help us achieve our goal of adding rooms to our Convention District and increase the vibrancy of our convention business.” According to Ullrich, analysis by participating master plan consultants, with feedback from at least 50 industry and community stakeholders, conclude that 2012 is the time to adopt aggressive strategies for development that result in private investment incentives and infrastructure improvements. The 2025 Master Plan envisions the eventual expansion of the existing convention center on its south end, where a parking garage currently sits, and a new garage on the building’s north side. A hotel would sit near each of the building’s four corners, including the Hilton Americas-Houston, which opened in 2003.
Houston First has retained consulting firm Strategic Advisory Group to help vet developers who would propose to build a convention center hotel with at least 1,000 rooms, as well as other possible development. The property could be built on a parcel adjacent to the GRB and connect to the convention center via a tunnel or skywalk.