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Sunset Coffee Building

Finally doing that front door facelift

Better late than never.

Renovations started this week on the historic Sunset Coffee Building at Allen’s Landing on the north end of downtown.

The more than 100-year-old structure, now behind a fence as construction begins, is getting a $5.3 million facelift from Houston First Corp. and Buffalo Bayou Partnership. They hope the new design will reconnect the bayou with downtown Houston.

The building sits on a spot often referred to as “Houston’s Plymouth Rock,” according to a joint announcement Friday from the Partnership and Houston First. Brothers August Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen established Houston there in 1836.

[…]

The project should be completed in about one year. At that time the building will have an outdoor plaza with refreshment and rental facilities for runners, canoeists, kayakers and bikers. The first level will be office space for the partnership and the second level and a rooftop terrace will be used as event space.

A walkway will connected the building to Commerce Street. Ultimately, the building will connect to Buffalo Bayou’s trail system that stretches to Shepherd Drive.

We first heard about this almost a year ago. At the time, the plan was for work to begin in April, 2013. I don’t know what caused the delay – this story doesn’t indicate – but at least it’s getting started now. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s finally done.

Fixing our front door

This sounds very cool.

The century-old Sunset Coffee Building, looming in disrepair over Allen’s Landing at the north end of downtown, will become Houston’s “front door” with an $8 million public-private renovation set to begin in April.

The three-story brick structure is boarded up, marked with graffiti, and has shrubs growing out of some second-floor windows.

Come mid-2014, however, the facility will house kayak, canoe and bike rentals on the first floor, office space on the second floor, private event space on the third floor, a rooftop terrace, and will be flanked by outdoor plazas and walkways connecting to Commerce Street.

Most of the money comes from private donations to the nonprofit Buffalo Bayou Partnership. The fundraising also was boosted by a $500,000 federal grant and finished off with a $2.4 million infusion from Houston First, the board that runs the city’s convention and arts facilities.

[…]

Susan Keeton, chairman emeritus of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, said it has been a long road, with some skepticism from the nonprofit’s board members, since the partnership first bought the building in 1997, with the dream of making it a focal point of recreation on the bayou. Renovations had been slated to start in 2008, but fundraising lagged amid the national recession.

“It is our Plymouth Rock, and the wonderful thing about it is that, unlike Plymouth Rock – which now is sort of small and forlorn, I’ve seen it off of Cape Cod – this, particularly when the Coffee Building gets renovated, is not going to be a lonely place,” Keeton said. “A day like today, this beautiful slope ought to just attract people, too many, almost.”

Sounds awesome to me, and long overdue. Kudos to the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Houston First, and the city for making this happen. I can’t wait to see the finished product. Here’s the Houston First press release, and CultureMap and Swamplot have more.