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The New Juniper

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  1. I hear it's investigative work to see what the old building can hold....
  2. Very, very well said. And, just so we're on the same page for some posters, "Broken Window" is a theory that doesn't necessarily refer to a specific window.... And to Redscare, you are right. It is not all doom and gloom. There are even isolated blocks of Main that are quite pleasant. However, i was downtown this weekend to see a friend of mine who lives on Main in a high rise and we saw (not heard a story about) but saw, a homeless (i assume homeless) man peeing in a vestibule on Main. If i had a camera and we could suspend decorum for me to make a point, i would have photographed it and posted it on the site. TNJ
  3. To the point about demonstrating that the HPD budget is up, down, sideways, adjusted for inflation, CPI, the weather, etc. I am not sure that it matters. It is a mess downtown and i am told by two friends of mine that live downtown that the off duty cops they employ in their buildings confirmed for them that there will fewer cops on patrol on Main Street. So, quoting stats is great, but evidently some supervisors must be driving new interceptors or have shiny new guns. B/C it appears the money is not putting more cops on the street. Eliminate crime. How? Greater police presence. Zero tolerance for any law broken. More light. Create an environment that feels safe and it will ultimately become so. Criminals will be around always. We just need to create an environment that deters the criminals from coming around. Not only are we not providing a deterrent, we are actually attracting it. Light rail, retail, parking garages all have one thing in common: They all die without the consumer. Fix the problem, not just the symptoms. Everything else is window dressing and shifts the hard decisions to someone else. TNJ
  4. OK. Couple of things: First, thanks to all for the spirited debate. Next: Just b/c Houston used to be a complete disaster and now is only 3/4 of a disaster is no reason to celebrate. That argument is the equivalent of "sure there are a lot of murders, but at least rape is down". Broken is broken. Once we tolerate this type of sub-standard behavior and environment in any meaningful way, we are, in essence, approving all of it. And Jax, I generally agree with you, but here i diverge. Creating more public toilets for the homeless to urinate in just A: Throws more money at it; B: Ignores the underlying problem; and C: puts a bandaid on a bullet wound; and D: Allows some public official to feel better about himself. Clean up the streets and sidewalks. This i mean in its most literal sense. Scrub it. Wash it. Keep it clean. If people are sleeping on the street, it is AGAINST THE LAW. Give people pride of ownership of Downtown. If something looks nice, people take care of it. "Oh Juniper you heartless bastard. How can you refer to these people like they are not human? They are someone's mother/father/son/daughter????" EXACTLY! Are we doing them favors by allowing them to urinate and defacate on the street??? How is enabling this behavior somehow the compassionate approach? Fix the broken windows. Enforce the laws, no matter how trivial they may seem. This is all or nothing. And, for those who want more information on the Broken Window, please read the Tipping Point. This does as good a job explaining as i have ever seen. I'm not Giuliani's biggest fan, but this was his approach and it is hard to argue results. TNJ
  5. The Honorable Bill White Mr. Mayor: Let me preface my comments with a couple of statements: I have been a supporter of yours since the get go. I admire what you have done and continue to try to do for our wonderful City. I believe you to be a City Official with a business mind and one who has taken great strides to encourage economic growth here in Houston. However, what has happened to downtown Houston on your watch is shameful. Let us get past the stadiums and the new development by the Toyota Center. The private sector development moving in at the newly announced mega-development is great. My hat is off to those developers, especially when you consider the state of the remaining 90% of downtown. One need look no futher than the streets. There is no street level retail of significance downtown. This could be, in large part, due to the success of the tunnel system. Who wouldn't rather travel in the comfort of conditoined air, given our typical weather here? But it is deeper than that. Just take a walk down Main Street in downtown. It is littered with filth. One cannot travel one city block without being accosted by a panhandler, seeing the homeless sleeping in doorways, or smelling the lovely aroma of human urine and feces. I feel for these folks who are down on their luck and evidently have no other recourse but to live in the streets. However, I have personally witnessed the same man begging for change at the same intersection for more than 3 years. Three years? How can we ask restaurants and residential projects to come downtown when we absolutely don't do anything to provide them an environment where patrons will feel safe? Please read the many books and articles written on "The Broken Window Theory". If we allow the small crimes such as panhandling, sleeping and defacating in public, or vandalism to go unchecked, it sends the message that A: we condone such actions, B: nobody is watching, or C: nobody cares. Any of these three very logical conclusions leads to further crimes. And, they are just that: crimes. Perhaps the straw that broke my proverbial back was hearing that further budget cuts in the HPD will cause fewer police to be patrolling downtown. I cannot imagine the balancing act you and your staff perform when doling out the city funds. However, pulling what few cops are downtown out of the area will kill what retail and residential that has managed to survive thus far. On behalf of those who own residences, businesses, or work downtown: Please clean up the streets. Get the panhandlers off the streets and out of the vacant buildings. We have many shelters designed to provide for these folks. I understand you may take some heat from those that for some unexplained reason believe it is heartless to move these people to shelters and out of doorways, but you have shown in the past you will take on challanges and this is another opportunity. Please provide more lighting and more police. There must be creative ways to accomplish this. I will not pretend to know enough about the City machine to tell you how to do your job. Please don't ignore downtown any more. Clean it up. Taking small steps is the only way to make a large difference. With absolute respect and deference, The New Juniper
  6. Seeing that picture is quite a relief. I was worried it was going to be a vanilla, pre-cast, EIFS, punched opening, totally lacking imagination design. Whew! No wait, that is exactly what it is..... Come on, surely we can do better than that. TNJ
  7. Theory adopted by Giuliani in NY. We could learn here in Houston...... Article titled Broken Windows by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, which appeared in the March 1982 edition of The Atlantic Monthly: "Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars."
  8. I am new to this thread and haven't had the luxury of reading the entire thing. So, i apologize if i repeat something here. But to me, the downtown club issue has nothing to do with black/white. It has everything to do with people feeling safe. if for some reason the blacks and whites feel like they cannot hang out in the same clubs, there is more than enough room and club space for everyone to have a good time. No race has cornered the market on the criminal element. I would guess you have an equal chance of getting mugged by a black, white or mexican. The problem is not who is committing the crime, the problem is that the crime is being committed. If i am white, do i feel any safer knowing the potential rapist around the corner is white also? Of course not. Get the criminals out of downtown. Put more lights. Put more cops. Everything else is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
  9. Sales office tells me that abatement has already begun on the building and that demolition should start in the next two weeks. Also, just because the City could have gouged LaMesa (not Davis by the way) on the sale of the street doesn't justify it doing so. City has to have an appraisal done and treat it as an arm's length transaction. The approach seemingly condoned above is called extortion. TNJ
  10. I have heard, stress heard without factual backup, that the folks at Palm Palisades are having some construction issues. Has anyone heard similar of know absolutely different? If anyone from the developer sees this, please respond. Thanks. TNJ
  11. Make sure your title insurance is solid. Lots of cobwebs in that closet i hear....
  12. Couple of things: First, (and you guys know i don't go out of my way to create a love-fest), but Niche's point about brand consistency is absolutely right on. They want you to walk into any one of their hotels and see absolutely no difference. Read: Chris & Harry Pappas. They are masters of this at their restaurants. If you believe the man that owns HV, the W is all but done on the above referenced site. My source is nowhere near as credible as the bathroom attendant at Treasures....mine is the doorman at Ricks
  13. Thank you Niche for the synopsis of my post. Well said. Assume a hotel has 200 rooms at that number. You'd get a total upgrade of $10,000,000. To me, that is not a tremendously high number when talking about a full upgrade. Although, included in that number are all of the upgrades to the public areas including meeting rooms, back of house, lobby, hvac systems, etc. If you were to consider converting say the Alden to a Marriott: Marriott would send its operations guys down here, its architectural and finish standards guys, and most expensively, its life saftey guys. They would make any owner address: Computer systems (this alone is about a $500,000 issue) in hardware, software and licensing fees; beds - each chain has specific mattress specs to meet; casegoods and softgoods in the rooms - armoirs, chairs, etc. - again chains don't look at quality as much as they look at whether they meet specs; bathroom fixtures; carpeting; wall paper - most chains now will not allow wall paper or wall vinyl b/c of mold problems; signage (at least $150K here; meeting rooms - all banquet chairs, tables, etc. have exact standards to meet. And lastly, smoke evacuation and stair pressurization. Conforming to these standards (and Hilton and Marriott will not bend even a bit) would be the lion's share of the cost. When the total cost is spread across guest rooms, $50K a room for conversion from boutique to flag is certainly well within reason. But, i won't beat that to death b/c i don't want to be accused of just arguing with Houston19514. This statement makes sense. However, i would submit that the reason people don't is because they always feel like success is "just around the corner". Hotels sell based on a trailing 12 months of NOI (basically) and the statement (I believe Niche made) about the debt is exactly right. The hotel is valued off cash flow before debt service which allows a seller to show some positive cash flow and for the buyer to discount the fact that the debt service is drowning the property. Given this, the Seller thinks "if we can just put together a good 6 month run, my numbers will improve, and i can get another $2MM or so for the property." Numbers will vary, but this is the general idea. Also, no one wants to admit failure. The same ego that caused many of these boutiques to get built stands in the way of drawing the very logical conclusion above. On the Inn, Fertitta can afford to ride it out. He is a long term guy. Just like some of the big apartment guys in town: they will build knowing that they may be 5 years too early to market. However, since they are in long term, they will ride out the storm until rents catch up. They do this especially in an environment where they believe land will continue to escalate. If you wait for rents to validate your land purchase, the cost of land and construction may have already priced you out of market. That is why Finger has been so successful. But i digress.... TNJ
  14. I feel like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. No matter what i do or say, i read the same statements over and over again each time i check the forum. You clearly do lack real world experience, certainly as it relates to hotel development, financing, and operation. You may be great at, say, tennis and for this reason, i will shy away from debating you on the reasons that Roddick cannot win Wimbledon. On this topic, however, i have limitless patience and will be happy to review the reasons for my statements. I do not take your challenge to my statements personally or do i view them as pompous. Just like i do not believe your lack of real world experience with hospitality properties makes you a bad person. In fact, i would wager that the owners of the aforementioned properties downtown wish today they had no real world experience with them either. In any event, i will take your advice and enjoy the peace. TNJ
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