Bayou Place, Houston

Bayou Place, Houston

As great and BIG as Houston is, I didn’t really indulge in much “big city envy” on the GLIDE trip.

For every positive (the outstanding new Paleontology and Egypt exhibits at the Museum of Natural History) there was a shocking negative (45 minutes to travel under three miles from the hotel to the Chevron Building).

But I did indulge in a little Cordish Cos. envy.

I am not the target audience for Fourth Street Live! (their exclamation point, not mine). I understand that, and it doesn’t bug me at all. I am way beyond my “clubbing” days (in those days, I was a Tampa resident, and I spent plenty of time in another place I’ve outgrown: Ybor City). I’ve seen other Cordish properties in Baltimore and Kansas City and they were much the same as Fourth Street.

Houston has their own Cordish property called Live! At Bayou Place. We drove past it and everyone on the bus mumbled their own feelings about Cordish upon sight of the familiar signage. But as we passed the complex, something caught my eye: Was that an art house cinema I just saw?

Bayou Place is located on the site of the old Albert Thomas Convention Center, which closed in 1987 when the much bigger George R. Brown Convention Center opened. Cordish entered into an agreement to develop the site into an entertainment complex in 1991. In 1999, Cordish was given an Excellence award by the Urban Land Institute for its work on Bayou Place.

Cordish has a 50 year lease to manage Bayou Place.

In an April 2013, article about Bayou Place’s outdated website, Katherine Shillcut, food blogger for the Houston Press (Houston’s version of LEO) wrote:

I love Bayou Place. I really do. I love the idea of clustering great restaurants and bars in one development in such close proximity to some of the city’s iconic cultural institutions: the Wortham, the Alley Theatre, Jones Hall and the new Houston Ballet. And tucked right into Bayou Place is the Bayou Music Center, home to the Houston Roller Derby and some truly great touring acts (I’ve seen everyone from Stone Temple Pilots to the Pixies there).

It’s hard to imagine Steve Coomes describing the offerings at Fourth Street Live! as “great restaurants and bars.” Although he is on the record as liking Gordon Biersch,

We’ll never see the day that Sean Cannon of WFPK hypes Fourth Street Live as a music venue, but the Bayou Place venue was voted best in Houston three years in a row by the Houston Press. Upcoming shows include Brian Wilson & Jeff Beck, Sarah Brightman, Widespread Panic and Gov’t Mule.

But back to that art house cinema … The Sundance Cinema is one of only six operated by Robert Redford’s Sundance Company. And in case you’re wondering, the answer is yes, this is the kind of art house movie theater that Louisville’s cinefiles have been yearning for, complete with a Sundance Cafe that serves wine, beer and light food.

What’s on the coming soon webpage? Four movies I’ve never heard of. As it should be with an art house cinema.

Fourth-Street-Live-300x224Sundance moved in in late November 2011 to replace exiting original tenant, the Angelika Film Center. So, Live! at Bayou Place has had an art house theatre since it opened.

Sure, both Fourth Street Live! and Bayou Place rock a the Western-themed PBR (Professional Bull Riding) venue. But the other establishments feel a little more high end than our TGI Friday-style fare.  Lucie’s Liquors offers an upscale, Vegas style sports bar experience.  Shark Bar is a retro surfer bar.  And Chapel Spirits is a chic whiskey bar. Dining fare includes sushi bar, The Blue Fish, a Dallas outpost, serves up sushi.

On Yelp, Louisville’s Fourth Street Live! earns a measly two stars. Sure, Yelp is hardly the gold standard for reviews, but it is interesting to note that Sandra M. from Houston wrote in July 2012:

BLEGH! This place is awful. Maybe we got there too late but Fourth Street Live did NOT live up to the hype. It was full of bachelorette parties and creeps.

Patrick W. from Chicago wrote in December 2012:

When I told people that I was going to Louisville most people said, “Oh yeah make sure you check out 4th Street Live.” I’m starting to wonder who my friends are.”

On Yelp for Live! At Bayou Place the reviews have trended up since April of this year and it clocks in at an impressive 4.5 stars.

Best yet, when you google “Bayou Place racism” you don’t get much of anything. Try googling “Fourth Street Live racism.”

Cordish envy? Kind of.