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Aris Market Square

Revitalized Market Square May Lure Houstonians Downtown

July 31st, 2017

Original article by Jen Rice for Houston Public Media

Market Square Park, in the north end of downtown, is on the verge of becoming the city’s newest hotspot. It’s brimming with new bars, restaurants, residences and the park that itself has had a makeover.

It didn’t happen overnight. It took a decade of investment and planning from the Downtown District and the Downtown Redevelopment Authority, two organizations tasked with imagining and implementing improvements.

Angie Bertinot with the Downtown District laughs when she hears from people who think the area revitalized all on its own.

“They’re like ‘You don’t need incentives, look at Market Square, that just happened,’” she said. “And I was just like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’”

In 2010, the Downtown District renovated the park, which signaled that they were serious about waking up Market Square.

“We really thought it could be an economic development tool because the area was really starting to kind of go through a stressful situation,” Bertinot said.

Next they got advice from the Urban Land Institute. The report urged them to build housing, specifically housing that would be “affordable to a broad spectrum of those working in downtown.”

The report said if you want a vibrant, 24/7 neighborhood, you need retail. If you want retail, you need residents. And the land downtown is really expensive, so if you want residents, you’ll need incentives to make it more affordable.

So they kicked off the Downtown Living Initiative, a program offering tax rebates to developers.

The 32-story Aris Market Square, developed by Hines, is almost complete. It’s one of two new luxury apartment buildings directly facing the square, both built with funding from the Downtown Living Initiative.

“The tax incentive program really helped to bridge the gap of what the required asking land price was and what we were able to afford,” said David Haltom, a director at Hines.

Haltom said the tower wouldn’t exist without the rebates. Some of their neighbors said that was money well spent.

Read the entire article HERE >.

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