“It’s a heck of a development that’s taking place,” says John Solis of Avenida Houston. The vice president of convention sales and services for Greater Houston CVB has been watching the development come to fruition from his office window, and he likes what he sees. “What [Avenida Houston] means to our conventioneers and visitors alike is we’ve created an actual destination for people to come experience,” he says. “All the key attributes for hosting a conference are here.”
Avenida Houston contains a lot within a compact area. There’s the convention campus, which includes Houston’s convention center plus the attached Hilton and Marriott convention center hotels, plus a plethora of restaurants, several plazas and the keystone of the project, a 12-acre park.
Major events like the Super Bowl and Final Four have incorporated the park into their programming in various fashions. John Deere brought in tractors for a program there, and the park also hosted opening ceremonies for the FIRST Championship robotics program in April. With the convention center to the east and Houston’s skyscrapers to the west, the venue makes for an especially dramatic event in the evenings, notes Solis.
Houston has changed a lot over the past decade—and the opening of Avenida is the icing on a cake that’s been a long time coming. “If someone looked at this territory five to seven years ago, the landscape is night and day,” says Solis, whose enthusiasm for his home city is apparent. Or maybe it’s due to the increase the Houston CVB is expecting in citywides thanks to the development: Solis says Houston’s annual average of 25 citywides is projected to grow to 35 soon.
“It’s great to see a lot of customers on the road knocking on your door saying, ‘We’ve heard; we want to come look,’” says Solis. “That’s a great feeling to have.”