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Everything posted by TheNiche

  1. Oh, go cry me a river and drown in it. Hyperbole is only a rhetorical device, nothing more. I ask again, what does this bridge have to do with the Wal-Mart?
  2. Nah, I'm not drawing my parents into this. Behind my 'safe' deal is a second very risky deal that could be executed by owner financing. I won't do one without the other, and I won't draw family into it.
  3. On the contrary, I've NEVER had to game the system in the past to get the deals done that I've wanted to get done. And believe me, we're talking about some very risky, very speculative types of deals. I've also never had any problems getting good deals on auto loans. On account of that banks were doing deals with me that I wouldn't have even done with me had I been in their shoes, whatever my credit score has been, I haven't investigated how to make it any better. What's so frustrating is that I'm trying to do something that is very safe, to purchase a house out of foreclosure at a below-market price (below its own lot value) in order to live in it. It's the safest deal I'd have ever done. That, I have a good employment history, probably double or triple the liquid assets that they require, and have fewer contingent liabilities than I've ever had. Nope. Still can't get a loan. The bankers themselves are frustrated. They blame regulators for their being unable to override my credit score with solid biographical evidence of my creditworthiness. I actually got dinged for having insufficient credit utilization of my revolving line of credit and for having credit card limits that are too low. My banker told me that carrying a rolling balance of up to about 25% of the limit would help, as would opening up some lines of store credit (for instance, Macy's), or even taking out a short-term personal loan just for the sake of paying it back. Of course, "fixing" the problem entails them pulling my credit score and granting new lines of credit that have a short-term adverse impact on the score. So I'd have to wait for those to burn off in order to realize a higher score. And in the mean time, that means that I should probably stay in the same job and forgo opportunities to make more money at a different company. (If I do change jobs, I won't be eligible for certain types of government-backed residential mortgages. Note that I don't like government-backed mortgages in principle, but that if everyone else is taking advantage of them, I need to be too.) Allow me to clarify my statement by explaining that I am frustrated at the market distortion caused by the requirement that I should game the system. This entails me using more credit (which entails consumption expenditures) and paying more debt service. These are expenditures on services or assets that are rapidly-depreciating. They are being made in the wrong order, IMO. I'd rather pay a below-market price for a lot-value house, an appreciating asset that I can live in, before taking a vacation or upgrading my car so that everyone in a three-block radius can hear it guzzle gas from inside their homes. But now my priorities have been distorted. And I think that that's wrong. I don't like it.
  4. If the premise is that our local government is like Baskin Robbins' 31 Flavors of Nincompoop, I happen to agree. But what does any of this have to do with Wal-Mart?
  5. I knew that the residential mortgage markets were damaged, but I hadn't realized how bad it was until this week. I've been buying and selling both residential and commercial properties since I was a lowly college student making $8 per hour. I've made good on payments, have never had a default condition (serious enough that a bank felt like reporting it to credit bureaus), and I paid my bills even when I was poor...simply by making sacrifices to my standard of living on the behalf of my creditors even though I could've ****ed them and enjoyed life. But there's a problem. I paid for my education with cash earned by working my ass off rather than by taking out student loans, and I've only used credit cards for emergencies. I had to carry some high credit card balances for a couple years (by which I mean about $5k), but paid them all off about 18 months ago and haven't used them since. So my credit score sucks (i.e. is only "average") because I haven't either been in a state of financial distress or attempted to game the system at any point in the very recent past. It's BS. (Perhaps I should start blaming Obama. Seems to be the fashionable thing to do in such circumstances.) I've got enough liquid assets on hand to cover the down payments on two deals of the size that I was trying to execute and also maintain six months of PITI on each of them. Yet I still can't do the one deal, which should've been easy (for once) because I was going to actually live there! And this especially sucks because I can feel an increase in my rent coming on if I have to stay put for another year. I just know it! The bastards. So. The mortgage banker is suggesting that I increase the available lines of revolving credit, sign up for store credit, sign up for gas cards, and put all of my expenses that are possible on one card or another, and keep a rolling balance from month to month. A personal loan from an institution that auto-drafts each month is apparently also advisable. I am commanded to be especially generous this holiday season because after all, I've got plenty of cash on hand, and the credit bureaus evidently don't favor a Scrooge. Am I the first person to have had the thought cross their mind that this is some kind of a government conspiracy to force the masses to consume things that they don't need? I'm not typically into that line of thinking, but the evidence supports the hypothesis.
  6. Does anybody know when Google plans on updating their imagery? I need fresh orthophotography (for free)! (How did the real estate community ever get by with just Key Maps?)
  7. I never meant to imply that you would want more money on a 380 Agreement. The question was a trap. Your dodgy responses implicate a motive other than (or perhaps in addition to) a straightforward distrust of government. (It's kind of strange, after all, that you and I both agree that there should be no further 380 Agreements, but that we're bickering anyway.) No. Like yourself, I am relegated to hearsay for the most part.
  8. Would you rather that the amount of the 380 Agreement had been many times larger, requiring the City to reimburse for what the state would've funded them to do in the first place? No. That's just stupid. You'd be complaining about that to no end.
  9. IIRC, the obscure code being cited by the city had to do with the placement of driveways and had not been enforced in a very very long time, since before TIA was TIA. If the City desires to enforce it, all that they would have to do is to tweak it in some manner as is substantive (this would be a low threshold) and then announce that they shall enforce it from here on out. But if I understand you correctly, you're saying that the City that has no qualms with arbitrarily suing developers is unwilling to inconvenience them. The thing is, developers don't really care what the codes are. If the City makes building stuff more onerous, then it just means that a developer cannot afford to pay as much for land as they would otherwise. The bid prices on land make up for the difference, and a long-term constraint on supply causes rents to rise so as to make development feasible again. If a certain price band of tenants is displaced into the suburbs, developers will simply follow them. If it displaces them all the way to Dallas, developers will follow them there, too. Everybody's got to live, work, and shop somewhere, after all. What developers care about (and I know because I was one during the height of the Ashby controversy) is that the City doesn't randomly target them and delay their project into oblivion on specious grounds. Koehler goes east and west between both Heights and Shepherd/Durham. There's also Bass Street. There are multiple detours available as options. I still don't see what the big deal is. Truck traffic occurs all over our metropolitan area 24 hours per day, and there are many intersections not designed to accommodate it. Somehow we make it work. Besides, it's not as though Wal-Mart is going to schedule its entire logistics operation to coincide with Houston's rush hours. Congestion isn't a problem except for the few hours when it is. Let's not exaggerate the problem. I was at the Wal-Mart on Silber last night. Did you know that in order for westbound traffic on I-10 to reach it, they have to exit Antoine and detour the opposite direction down I-10 back to Silber? I hope that you never have to take that trek. It would surely be the end of you. Myself though, I survived unscathed. And now I have new underwear. Yay!
  10. He's looking for a map of the tunnels that is formatted such that it can be superimposed on top of aerial imagery within Google Earth. Bob, try contacting Central Houston, Inc. directly. They administer the Downtown Management District and TIRZ. If anybody has this, it will be them. If it's not in KML/KMZ, then it'll be in a different format that might still be workable for you.
  11. Will it be accessible for people with disabilities?
  12. If you pull permits, then your project will be mightily delayed and HCAD will bump your value. I can't tell you to skip everything, to do the work on weekends, and to haul off the debris in the dark of night. So I won't.
  13. If that is true, then all it takes is a new ordinance, then for that ordinance to be enforced uniformly from that point onward. It's really, really simple. I would add that the Ashby lawsuit was settled out of court. No precedents were set. Nothing regarding TIAs has changed from the way it was. If behavior has changed, then that may reflect changing political sentiment against NIMBYs. But actually...I strongly suspect that you're just making things up. How is that?
  14. I'm not aware of any anti-Wal-Mart threads that are ongoing. There's another Wal-Mart about to get built inside the loop at Wayside and I-45, but the neighborhood seems to want it there. I would too, if I was still living over in that direction. So yeah, there's just not a debate being had...except for right here. Besides. I am neither pro-Wal-Mart or anti-Wal-Mart. They're only a business entity. The perspective that I am offering in this thread is threefold: 1) What gets built in our city should be shaped and constrained by market forces and codes and ordinances that are uniformly administered. What gets built in your neighborhood should be compatible with the needs and wants of our city as expressed by the aforementioned forces and constraints. 2) RUDH's officers live a lifestyle that is incompatible with the organization's mission statement and seem to be as much a part of their perceived problem as any sort of solution that they might be offering; and they're dicks for threatening legal action against me for having investigated them and having said so. 3) Some 380 Agreements have been better or worse than others, and in capable hands they have the potential to effect positive change. Ironically, some of the worst among them seem to be the most popular with constituents (i.e. Gulfgate HEB). Whereas I generally distrust the public to understand the implications of 380 Agreements and also that I also generally distrust that local politicians act in the interests of their constituents, and also whereas 380 Agreements are unnecessary in the course of providing essential public services, I therefore believe that the language that enables them should be repealed under state law. This is consistent with my general philosophy of government. I know why the developer would have wanted cosmetic repairs. It's to make the area look nicer. Isn't it obvious?
  15. If I recall correctly, the 380 Agreement allowed a provision whereby the city and the developer could agree to add or remove items from the original list. They ended up using that provision, although clearly some of the work that ended up being done was of questionable value. But that's pretty much just the City being the City. (What would the developer care about baluster repair?) The City does lots of things of questionable value, such as building and operating public libraries. If you're pissy about this--and clearly you are because I can't recall you posting anything in any other thread, ever--then why aren't you also getting pissy about other things that the City does?
  16. I do not disagree with anything that you've said except that I do not know what a "keystone of opportunity" is. Does it have anything to do with the wholesale distribution of Keystone beer? I am in favor of the distribution of beer downtown. That would aid our efforts to attract tourists. Why Keystone, though? There is better beer to choose from. In all seriousness, since a bunch of the money is coming from the hotel tax, I am not at all opposed to efforts that would enhance tourism. I just happen to think that these funds could be better spent on other projects, even on projects within the downtown area if that is what concerns you the most.
  17. Well, we agree on that much at least. Some actually are worse than others. Red already dissected this issue. And even if you have a point or a partial point, it only comprises a relatively small portion of the total project cost.
  18. Wouldn't a welfare project for traffic engineers entail lots of critical feedback so as to require revision after revision? If so, then that would cause the traffic engineering firms to bid out new projects at a higher fee and to have to hire more traffic engineers. And besides, it isn't as though the development is located on an island with only one shoddy bridge across to it. There are lots of alternative routes. When I shop there, I'm going to drive across the bridge of despair in my deceptively-heavy passenger car. And I shall not care. When the bridge is tore up, I'll drive on down to Heights and turn right at the new intersection at Kohler. If a one-block detour ruins your day, then perhaps yours is such a charmed life that I should envy you; I shall not allow such a trifling nuisance to ruin my day however. Yeah, it's wasn't well written. Okay, so go and read the one for the Gulfgate HEB. At least the scope of work in the case of Ainbinder was such that it would improve infrastructure that Ainbinder was not otherwise required to improve on their own. With Gulfgate...jeez, I'm not going to make a direct accusation, but I sense that it could've bordered on the criminal. The public got nothing.
  19. I am not disputing that this was poorly written, only that many of the other 380 Agreements are worse. If all that a government ever did was to make paper agreements, then those agreements would be worthless. The threat or promise that those agreements shall be kept and enforced are what makes them valuable and worthwhile.
  20. There used to be a small collection of perhaps a half-dozen houses mixed in with mostly commercial properties. The developer of the Target dealt with the discontented neighborhood by literally blockbusting it into oblivion. There was even one holdout that absolutely refused to sell out, and so the developer surrounded and beseiged that house by the pavement for the Target store's parking lot. (You can see it in the April 2006 imagery on Google Earth. It's almost comical.) Eventually even the holdout gave up and sold out. So there is no neighborhood to be adversely impacted. I vaguely recall that Woodland Heights was concerned about traffic going up Watson, but obviously that concern was unwarranted. By comparison, Ainbinder and Wal-Mart have been good corporate citizens. They worked alongside City officials to transform overgrown brownfield sites into a viable shopping center alongside dense new housing with improved civic infrastructure whereas no other proposal could have been brought to fruition within any forseeable time horizon. And now, in only a few weeks time, I will be showing my appreciation for their presence in my urban community by shopping there regularly. Unless of course, I am "no one" persuant to your statement. Am I "no one" to you? Am I less than human, perhaps even verging on the non-sentient on account of my desire to purchase and consume pre-cooked sliced chorizo in deli meat form from the 'Not-Quite-Heights Wal-Mart'?
  21. Presuming that the developer abides by the improvements specified in the 380 Agreement, they will be reimbursed by the City. The City knew what was being proposed by the developer and agreed to it, and even if the City was unaware of the condition of its own bridge at the time, that is their problem...not the developer's. Both parties to the deal should have done due diligence. You seem to have a beef with the City. That's fantastic. I'm not pleased with the way that they've administered 380 Agreements either, and this instance was one of the better-written ones if you can believe it. Send them a message by voting Republican in 2012.
  22. Fine, then the land could be bought and then given away to developers in return for them building something that people want more of. Whatever. I'm just giving a bunch of alternatives, of which all of the alternatives are better than a fuddy duddy cultural center.
  23. With $32 million, someone could buy up just about as much acreage as is comprised in Discovery Green, all over the south, southeast, and east part of downtown where there are so many surface lots, and donate them to the Parks Board. I'd rather they do that.
  24. Uh yeah, actually I would need a contract in order to take on that kind of a project myself. Someone willing to pay compensate me on a 5% match on total donations would be very much encouraged to step forward.
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