Life in Downtown is evolving into a place where people live, work and explore – exactly the kind of work-life balance our Downtown employees and residents crave.
At the epicenter of activity, with entertainment, dining and shopping just steps away, over 158,000 people work Downtown, 65,000 live in greater Downtown and more than 10 million people visit the area annually for conventions, meetings, baseball and basketball games, theater, concerts and Houston’s massive civic events.
Downtown’s explosion of residential development is arguably the greatest shift to its urban core since the city began its renewal back in the mid 1990’s. Currently, there are approximately 7,200 residents within the Downtown District’s boundaries, but with the success of the city’s Downtown Living Initiative – a program which awards $15,000 per unit in tax rebates to developers who create homes or multifamily projects – that number will double over the next few years. In addition to the core, Downtown boasts 65,000 residents within greater Downtown and 360,000 within five miles of the City’s center.
The types of residents attracted to downtown living are young urban professionals working downtown, empty nesters, reverse commuters and, yes, even small families. A variety of living options are also available from penthouse apartments to cool and funky lofts-- and at all price points. What makes Downtown different from other areas of Houston is that it is the only place in the city where a resident has everything they need within walking distance. Not just bars and restaurants, theater, sports and award-winning parks... but medical, worship, fitness and transportation. Downtown also has an amazing specialty grocery store, Phoenicia Specialty Foods, not to mention a dozen more options from Whole Foods to Target, all within a mile of Downtown.
Downtown is home to more than 300 restaurants and bars (and counting). Three James Beard Award-winning chefs have Downtown Houston concepts-Hugo Ortega’s Xochi, Justin Yu’s Theodore Rex and Robert Del Grande’s The Grove—plus three additional concepts by James Beard finalists Bryan Caswell (Jackson Street Barbecue) and Michael Cordúa (Artista). Beloved dining options range from the casual burgers of Hubcap Grill to superlative steaks at Vic & Anthony’s, not to mention only-in-Houston options like Bombay Pizza Co. and specialty grocer and dining hotspot Phoenicia.
On the boozy side, OKRA Charity Saloon, one of the only non-profit bars in the country, has donated over $1 million to local charities since opening in 2012. Other watering holes of note include Public Services, located in the century-old Cotton Exchange building, wine and beer bar La Carafe located in Houston’s oldest commercial building, margarita hotspot The Pastry War and the whiskey-centric Reserve 101.
Houston is one of only five U.S. cities that has permanent professional resident companies in all of the major performing arts disciplines. The city’s Theater District spans 17 blocks in Downtown Houston, where seven major resident companies, along with many smaller ones, perform in four main venues: Alley Theatre, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Jones Hall and Wortham Theater Center. It’s also a top destination for live music, with venues including House of Blues, Revention Music Center and the Toyota Center playing host to both up-and-coming musical acts as well as some of the world’s biggest pop and comedy stars.
In addition to performing arts, public art is abundant in Downtown. Permanent art, including David Adickes’ lyrically inspired Virtuoso in the Theater District, John Runnels’ Dream.boats at entry points along Buffalo Bayou and Joan Miró’s Personaje and Birds at the J.P. Morgan Chase Building, complement newer pieces at The George R. Brown Convention Center and Avenida Houston including Houston artist Ed Wilson’s 67-foot mobile Soaring in the Clouds and Joe O’Connell’s Wings over Water sculpture.
Houston has also inaugurated several new exciting temporary art installations in recent years. Most prominent among them are Discovery Green’s creative and exciting rotating art program and Downtown Art Blocks which strives to enliven Downtown Houston’s Main Street Square and other public spaces with a series of site-specific semi-permanent and temporary art installations, public programming and other experiences.
Houston conducted the largest major league sports stadium build-up in the U.S., featuring three state-of-the-art facilities downtown: Minute Maid Park, Toyota Center and BBVA Compass Stadium, all within walking distance of each other.
Home of the 2017 World Series Champions Houston Astros, Minute Maid Park is a 40,950-seat outdoor baseball stadium with a retractable roof. Toyota Center, which opened in September 2003, is a $175 million multi-purpose facility that seats 18,500 for Houston Rockets basketball games. And with much fanfare, BBVA Compass Stadium opened in 2012 in east downtown, just two blocks from Minute Maid Stadium, and is host to Major League Soccer champs Houston Dynamo in addition to Houston Dash and Texas Southern football games.
Heavily programmed new parks have emerged as some of Downtown’s main attractions. Among the most notable green spaces include Market Square Park, located in Downtown’s Historic Market Square neighborhood and the original site of Houston’s City Hall for 100 years; Discovery Green, an award-winning public space celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year; and Buffalo Bayou Park, which recently completed a multi-million-dollar transformation. All three of these projects have been instrumental to Downtown’s revitalization and have spurred additional private development making them catalytic economic development tools. They are joined by a new urban green space known as the Acre, formed out of the renovation of One Allen Center on the west side of Downtown, as well as many more smaller pocket parks and pedestrian plazas.
Located on the northwest end of Downtown Houston, Buffalo Bayou Park provides visitors with an ideal location for canoeing and kayaking, disc golf and some of the best multi-elevation trails for the avid runner and cyclist. The $58 million revitalization project included new and upgraded features such as wider trails along the bayou, three pedestrian bridges, restoration of the natural landscape, additional park benches, picnic spots, water features, bike, canoe and kayak rental and an enclosed dog park.
More and more people want to live a family-friendly urban lifestyle which includes access to quality education. With more than 152 public, private and charter schools within the inner loop, it’s possible to have both. Today’s families are choosing to give up cars and space in exchange for a lifestyle that offers outstanding schools, shorter commutes, quality amenities and an abundance of opportunity just outside their front doors.
Downtown workers have access to a variety of healthcare and dental services that are conveniently located within the Skyline District, including medical groups such as Memorial Hermann and Kelsey Seybold. Houston’s first hospital, St. Joseph Medical Center, is located in southern Downtown where patients can expect the most advanced technology and research provided by an experienced and dedicated staff. The hospital has an extensive list of medical and surgical services in multiple health areas, including: cardiology, cancer care, behavioral health, intensive care/critical care, emergency care, neurosurgery, orthopedics and pediatrics.
Within 15 minutes of Downtown sits the Texas Medical Center— the largest medical complex in the world— containing 54 medicine-related institutions, 21 hospitals and eight specialty institutions, eight academic and research institutions, four medical schools, seven nursing schools, three public health organizations, two pharmacy schools and a dental school.
Downtown offers a variety of hotel options including large convention hotels, luxurious five-star accommodations, beautiful historic options and more! Thanks to a burgeoning convention center and business community, Downtown’s hospitality market has grown tremendously with 24 hotels including nine that have opened since September of 2014: JW Marriott, SpringHill Suites, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites, Holiday Inn, Aloft Hotel Downtown, Marriott Marquis Houston Convention Center Hotel, Le Meridien and Hotel Alessandra. The area boasts 7,780 rooms, with more than 500 additional rooms planned between now and 2019.
The Downtown District Clean & Safe Program strives to make sure Downtown Houston is a vibrant, friendly and inviting community. The highly visible teams of safety guides and maintenance professionals provide daily services making Downtown one of the safest and cleanest neighborhoods in the city.
The Downtown District developed the Downtown Public Safety Guide Program to ensure that residents, workers and visitors feel confident in their personal safety and have a positive Downtown experience. With a focus on hospitality and safety solutions, the Downtown Public Safety Guides offer a visible on-street presence serving as additional eyes and ears for Downtown. They strive to offer a professional relationship with all local law enforcement and social service agencies, business and property owners, private building security companies, City entities, local Houstonians and visitors.
Keeping Downtown clean is one of the most visible and challenging tasks for the Downtown District. Formed in 1992, the Street Team is responsible for maintaining the appearance of pedestrian areas, cleaning sidewalks and tending to landscaping throughout Downtown’s public spaces.