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Defying the demolition craze: New $80 million downtown hotel to save a 102-year-old skyscraper

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J.W. Marriott Houston Downtown Hotel Pearl Hospitality historical renovation
The current state of 806 Main Street in downtown Houston. Photo by Whitney Radley
J.W. Marriott Houston Downtown Hotel Pearl Hospitality historical renovation.
The gutted ground floor will reopen as a lobby next spring. Photo by Whitney Radley
J.W. Marriott Houston Downtown Hotel Pearl Hospitality historical renovation.
Mayor Annise Parker joined Bill Franks, vice president of real estate for Pearl Hospitality, for the unveiling on Friday. Photo by Whitney Radley
JW Marriott downtown Houston May 2013 historic photo
The 102-year-old structure is expected to be restored to its former grandeur. Courtesy photo
JW Marriott downtown Houston May 2013 rendering
This rendering shows the 22-story building in its conversion into a luxury hotel.  Courtesy rendering
J.W. Marriott Houston Downtown Hotel Pearl Hospitality historical renovation
J.W. Marriott Houston Downtown Hotel Pearl Hospitality historical renovation.
J.W. Marriott Houston Downtown Hotel Pearl Hospitality historical renovation.
JW Marriott downtown Houston May 2013 historic photo
JW Marriott downtown Houston May 2013 rendering
J.W. Marriott Houston Downtown Hotel
Get Directions - 806 Main Street Houston

As downtown Houston booms with ground-up development, Fort Worth-based hotel company Pearl Hospitality is taking a more preservationist look at one historic building. 

The Samuel F. Carter Building, a 102-year-old structure at 806 Main Street touted as the city's first skyscraper, is slated to open as the new J.W. Marriott Houston Downtown Hotel in Spring 2014. 

"This is an historic day for the great city of Houston. One of the city's most important structures is being brought back to life to add, once again, to the city's culture and the vibrancy of downtown," Bill Franks, vice president of real estate for Pearl Hospitality, said at a Friday press conference. 

"When we have a building with the rich history of this one, we want to save it," said Mayor Annise Parker, commending Pearl Hospitality's decision to protect the building rather than demolish it. 

Renderings indicate that its once-slip-covered facade will be restored to former grandeur, and plans for renovation include a luxury hotel with 323 guest rooms, a restaurant and full-service bar, a spa and health club, an executive lounge, swimming pool and 10,000 square feet of meeting space. 

Parker also noted the site's convenient location: Right on the METRORail Red Line, close to amenities attractive to both leisure and business travelers.

The hotel's $80.8 million development is a public/private partnership, pulling $7.3 million in financing from the City of Houston.  

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