Bass said the new development projects would attract more people to Conroe and help downtown merchants.
“[On] all of these projects, our intent and focus has always been what can enhance the downtown Conroe area and the merchants in and around this area,” Bass said. “We want to revitalize the merchants’ land values and offer something that would offer our residents—both those who live here today and those who will live here in the future—and people of different generations something unique and special.”
Vision for Spirit of Texas Plaza
On Oct. 8, Hawes Hill Calderon LLP presented a master plan for Conroe to expand and enhance the downtown area, including adding a large theater, hotel and convention center.
Mike Durham, senior vice president of the Spirit of Texas Bank general counsel, said the bank intends to build a two-story theater on the northwest side of the property. With its proposed 1,800 seats, the Yellow Rose Theatre will provide a large venue for musicians and live performances in Conroe.
Durham said the bank’s nonprofit, Spirit of Texas Foundation for the Arts, plans to launch a multimillion dollar fundraiser in January for the theater’s construction, which will take approximately 15-18 months to build out before opening in 2020.
Bass said he also intends to sell approximately 8 acres of the plaza to an experienced hotelier to build a hotel and conference center.
“The convention center and the Yellow Rose Theatre have always been a one-two punch here in this area,” Bass said. “We thought that a fantastic hotel would be a draw. Anyone in this region who would want to come to a great hotel or come to a function with the Veterans Park would [then] have a convention center to go to.”
At a Nov. 8 Conroe City Council meeting, Houston-area hotelier Jay Patel spoke during citizen’s forum about plans for a four-star, 200-room Delta by Marriott hotel at the plaza.
However, Patel said the Delta brand is only interested in the site if a convention center is developed with the hotel.
Meanwhile, the city has considered a convention center at Johnson Development Corp.’s master-planned Grand Central Park along South Loop 336.
In 2016, the city of Conroe hired consulting firm CBRE Hotels to conduct a market study and financial analysis of Grand Central Park as the location of the proposed hotel and conference center, which determined the area to be well-suited for hotel development due to its numerous corporate and entertainment activities.
However, Conroe Mayor Toby Powell said the city has not made any decisions on where a potential convention center development will be located. He said the city staff and council members will discuss the project during executive session and potentially make a decision on the site location in early 2019.
“There’s nothing written in stone at this time for either place to have [a convention center],” Powell said. “Having said that, there’s no room for two convention centers. … Other people may think differently, but I don’t think that Conroe is ready for two, but I know we’re ready for one.”
Correction: The original version of this article misspelled Mike Durham's name and title. The article has also been corrected to state that Spirit of Texas Bank is proposing a convention center, not a conference center.