Improvements coming to George R. Brown Convention Center and downtown area, thanks to Senate Bill 1057

HOUSTON – Big changes are coming to downtown Houston, thanks to a Senate bill that is anticipated to bring around $2 billion to the area.

Senate Bill 1057 was authored by State Senator John Whitmire.

Starting in September, Senator Whitmire says Houston First will be able to collect the sales tax from three miles in every direction from the George R. Brown Convention Center. The additional revenue will help grow and revitalize the area.

“From the growth of retail sales, hotel occupancy tax, we will cap what the city and state are getting now. The future growth will pour back into Houston First,” he said. “Their plans are an additional convention hotel and retail, but most importantly the convention center, George R. Brown, is going to be enlarged and modernized.”

Whitmire says it’s important to be competitive with other states and cities, like Dallas, which is building a new convention center.

“We need better facilities, but the neat thing is that it goes three miles in every direction, so it will include the Arts and Theater District,” he said.

KPRC 2 asked the senator how much this plan will cost the taxpayers.

“Not a cent. It will not be any additional taxpayer money. It’s what we would gather - the state would gather - from sales tax revenue,” he said.

City council member for District I, Robert Gallegos, thinks the plan is exciting.

“They are anticipating that this bill will bring almost $2 billion over the next 30 years, not just for the George R. Brown Convention Center, but possibly for areas in downtown Houston for improvements as well as possible improvements for EaDo and those are the two areas that I represent,” Gallegos said.

Senator Whitmire says this will also have an impact on Houston as it prepares for big events like the College Football Playoffs and the World Cup.

Houston First plans to hold a press conference and release the sketches of the improvements this fall.

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