If you’ve got a few million dollars laying around this is your opportunity to own an entire city block in the heart of Montrose. The Tower Center on Westheimer between Montrose and Waugh is for sale, along with the Jack in the Box on the same block. The 75-year-old complex was designed by Joseph Finger, the same architect who designed Houston’s City Hall.
In 1985 the owners “updated” the complex with a coating of spray-on stucco, but originally the complex was decorated with brightly colored stripes to complement the Tower Theater across the street.
The corner of Waugh and Westhiemer has been a mixed bag for historic preservation of late. Last year the facade of the 1936 Tower Theater was restored in preparation for El Real Mexican Restaurant’s residence. Across the street, however, the developers of the new Underbelly Restaurant and Hay Market Bistro removed the decorative facade of the 1956 gas station that used to form the front bar at the old Chances and demolished the 1922 church that formed the back bar.
On the northeast corner the old Mary’s Naturally Bar (the oldest gay bar in Texas when it closed in 2009) sits forlorn, though the current owners have promised the building will not be demolished.
As it stands the Tower Center is half vacant; the Blockbuster Video that once anchored the Montrose side moved out in 2008 and another tenant, Schlotzsky’s Deli, just moved out. Let’s hope that any new owner will bring much-needed life back to this landmark building, while respecting the history of the neighborhood.