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Three Catalysts for Market Square’s Revival

Houston’s Market Square Park has returned to the heart of Downtown community activity. On any given night, the park is full of cyclists, Gen Xers or hipsters hitting the nightlife. Here’s why.

1. Park Activities


The park, itself, surrounds Niko Niko’s with snacks and drinks all day. There’s shady walkways, dog runs and fountains in the park, as well as bicycle rentals. It’s an area that harkens to another era where neighbors gathered and enjoyed the space when it was the center of Houston (and home to three different City Hall buildings.) Efforts to create the park started in the ‘80s, but it didn’t open until 2010.

2. Hotel ICON


In 2004, Hotel ICON opened, spurring the surrounding development. The historic hotel is owned in a JV between Centurion Partners and Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds (the company partly owned by basketball icon Magic Johnson). The hotel is the first Marriott Autograph Collection property in Texas and remains the only one in Houston. The 12-story, neo-classical 1912 Union National Bank building underwent a $35M renovation to become a luxury hotel. Last month, Hotel ICON got a new executive chef, Laura Trigo, formerly of the Clear Lake area, who continues to reinforce the focus on local and regional ingredients and recently relaunched lunch service to meet area demand.

3. Nightlife & Residential


The Market Square Park area and the downtown historic area has seen an explosion of new bars, restaurants and entertainment venues with The Springbok (pictured). The rugby bar is in a turn of the century space featuring premium South African fare. There’s also Prohibition, a restaurant and supper club featuring classic burlesque in a former silent movie theater. Within blocks of the hotel, there are two high-rise multifamily projects underway, in addition to several office buildings.