Historic preservationists from across the country are in Houston this week for an annual conference.
It’s the first time we’ve hosted such an event. The city’s new focus on old things is part of the reason.
Developer Bill Franks led the top to bottom renovation of the circa 1913 Stowers building.
“We spent a lot of money with the restoration of the interior of this building,” said Franks.
It recently re-opened as an Aloft Hotel.
“A lot of people do believe it’s easier to tear down and build from the ground up,” said Franks. “You know, to me, it’s sort of unconscionable.”
His $28 million project is part of rapidly changing mindset downtown and elsewhere in Houston.
People are turning to the past when determining what’s to come.
“What you’re seeing is Houston’s becoming an historic town,” said Franks.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation picked Houston for its annual conference this week.
“Houston is a dynamic, growing, forward-looking city,” said Susan West Montgomery with the National Trust. “And if preservation has a role here, preservation has a role everywhere.”
Some 1200 attendees from across the country are visiting sites like the Astrodome.
It’s the kind of not so old building that’s a growing focus for preservationists.
“The future of preservation is not always going to be in the iconic 100 or 200 year-old buildings,” said Montgomery. “It’s going to be in the kinds of buildings built in your lifetime and my lifetime.”
Tax credits that cover up to 25% of restoration costs for qualified buildings are helping Houston and other cities hold on to their histories.
“That is really the difference between whether a project is financially feasible or whether it’s not,” said Franks.
Fortunately, Franks says, more and more buildings are getting a second look.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett will be honored for his role in the Astrodome’s redevelopment during this week’s conference.
It runs through Friday.