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Now That the Omni's Officially a Success, the City Hopes to Build Shops and Restaurants

Downtown's city-owned Omni Hotel has been a roaring success since it opened a year-and-a-half ago, routinely filling up and helping score such convention-business coups as the annual gathering of the American Meat Institute and the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Expo.

But the Omni was only one component of the city's plan to revitalize the newly rechristened Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and the southwestern corner of downtown. The convention center itself is getting a badly needed, $60-million update. A hotel-tax slush fund was created to help lure big meetings. Southside on Lamar is thriving.

Next on the list: drawing shops and restaurants to the area surrounding Omni and making walking from there to pretty much anywhere suck less. The former will be done using cash left over from the hotel's construction. The current plan is for 15,000 square feet of space and 350 spaces of underground parking, arranged as you see in the rendering above.

The latter will be accomplished by improving pedestrian linkages to the West End, Victory Park, and Southside. The biggest focus right now is on doing something about the Lamar Street as it passes under the convention center. It's long, dark, and extremely uninviting. That won't be done until October 2014, but here's what they have in mind:

After all, what pedestrian can resist a fountain?

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