While December’s Day for Night is making headlines for its stellar lineup of musical artists, including Aphex Twin, Travis Scott and Bjork, announcement details are also bringing attention to the festival’s location: the former Barbara Jordan Post Office situated at 401 Franklin Street.
A long-time staple on the Downtown scene, the facility, built in 1936, originally served as Houston's Grand Central Station until the federal government purchased it in the late 1950s. The post office, named in honor of the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, opened in 1962.
Its closure in 2015, due to a $20 billion cut in the postal service budget, left curious minds wondering what would become of the spacious property, which boasts more than 400,000 square feet of existing building structure and 16 acres of land.
Since the post office closed its doors, several avant-garde music and art groups, such as Cirque Noir, have used the raw space for events, but there's a lot more to come courtesy of Lovett Commercial.
The Houston-based developer has begun renovating the architectural landmark, slotted for a mixed-used complex called Post HTX with a new private event space, plus residential, office, retail, and restaurant spaces.
“Post HTX is our vision as the next centerpiece for interaction and communication in the heart of our city,” Frank Liu, Jr. with Lovett Commercial tells CultureMap. “With the decline of our reliance on the postage system, Post HTX is a new vision of human interaction and a transformative means of communication for the 21st century and the digital age.”
With the goal of keeping the majority of the existing building in tact, Lovett Commercial has commenced work on phase one of the massive undertaking. In collaboration with local interior designers Jawda and Jawda, the first floor of the building is being converted into a 150,000 square-foot event center set to open in early 2017.
The space will be a blank canvas in an industrial chic setting, easily transformable from an elegant setting to a casual soirée venue.
Phase two of the project, which includes architectural modifications to the structure, will roll out in several stages over the course of the next five to eight years.
"We want to showcase Houston in a new light by working with architects and designers around the world who are on the cutting edge of innovative ideas of how cities will function in the 21st century,” says Liu, Jr.
Designed by the same architects as the Astrodome during the height of the Cold War, the post office building has unique historical elements including “spy catwalks,” used by surveillance people who walked overhead monitoring post office workers. There are also multiple bomb shelter bunkers throughout the complex, giving developers plenty of bang for their buck.