Why The GRB Convention Center Is In The Need Of A Pedestrian-Friendly Makeover

A rendering of Houston First Corporation's proposal for the future GRB. [WHR Architects]
A major face-lift is planned for the area around the George R. Brown Convention Center, just in time for the Super Bowl in 2017. The transformation includes more retail and less vehicular traffic.

When the Brown Convention Center opened 25 years ago, it turned the East End of downtown into a new focal point of the city. But since then, a lot has happened to the area.

Sharon Adams is with Houston First Corporation, the entity proposing the makeover.

"With Discovery Green of course being a walkable destination for the convention center, with the Hilton Americas, with the new Marriott Marquis and with the now Center for Cultural Heritage — all coming online between Minute Maid and Toyota Center — it made sense to make the GRB and the area in front of it a pedestrian-friendly plaza."

One big change would be to vehicular traffic, reducing the street that runs in front of the Brown from eight lanes to three.

"So the idea is to activate the street 24-7, and we're also trying to bring more residential downtown. Because as you know, you have to have a residential component in order to have the streets activated."

The transformation would also provide safety to the more than a million convention goers who come to Houston every year and walk the area near the Brown that's not well lit.

"How do we develop this? And we're talking to our stakeholders to see what's important to them. It will be a Houston First cost, and there will be no city tax money involved at all."

Once it’s approved, the transformation will be completed in time for the Super Bowl three years from now.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...