Best New Development - 2009
Despite assurances from booster types that Houston was insulated from the worst effects of the global economic meltdown, the past year was notably slow on the development front, which is why, despite its faults and thus-far unfulfilled promise, Houston Pavilions takes this award in a walk. While we would have preferred that the shops, restaurants and taverns in this downtown arcade-like setting faced the street instead of plunging inward, it sure is nice to have a full-service bookstore downtown. (Even if it's a Books-A-Million and not Borders or Barnes & Noble.) We also like the way the eastern edge of HP ends with the local House of Blues and a gateway to previous Best New Development winner Discovery Green. It's hard to believe, but even two or three years ago, there were times of day (especially on weekends) when there was virtually nowhere to go downtown, and now you can pick up a copy of The Corrections and a new dress, then top it all off with an enchilada dinner in one fell swoop. And coming soon are a fancy-pants bowling alley, two ice cream parlors, several pubs, a Yao's Chinese restaurant, a tapas bar and a steakhouse.