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Ben Milam Hotel Construction/Demolition/Rehab


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So at the bottom floor there's a sign facing mm park that says somethin about a collection of shops coming soon. I don't know of the age or current status of that statement but I think that's good retail spot cuz A: mm park foot traffic is tremendous right there esp. on game days, and B: even not on gamedays home plate bar and b.u.s. still have customers due to the fanbase they've built up thus offering sort of another little beginning of an "area" to hang out and "barhop" on foot downtown. Every time I saw yalls posts on e.s.p.n. bar I always thought that would be a good spot. And even better spot for residential above the retail. I mean next door to mm park, some lofts could go for a pretty high price.

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Noticed this blurb in today's Bisnow posting, with attention to Marvy Finger's developments...

Everyone wear T-shirts that say "I'm from the Internet."

Here's my video!

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That sign has been on the Ben Milam since MMP opened. To my knowledge no serious redevlopment plans have ever been announced for the property. The postponement/cancellations of Ballpark Place and Ar'talia seem to indicate that devlopers do not see much potential for residential in that neighborhood for the near future. As much as I would love to see Ben Milam redeveloped, I really don't expect to see it happen for a long, long time.

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  • 1 year later...
  • 1 month later...
here's the mileage sign:

EXCELLENT WORK! Thank you! I swear there used to be more of it when I saw it.

So do you know why it was posted there? Was that the location of an old bus depot?

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it's hard to say - my first inclination was because it was next to union station - but - the wall that was painted on seems to have changed over the years (from various ben milam postcards i have) so who knows when it was actually painted :unsure:

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sad but true...i could see ben milam hitting the crane - it is way worse off than william penn (was). william penn was perfectly fine inside - ben milam, on the other hand, has been exposed to the elements for a long time which makes for alot of nastiness...

according to the article in the chronicle yesterday, the reasons given from spire for not seeing through with renovation with penn was because the interior wasn't "profitable" - ceilings were too low and rooms were too small - puh-lease -_-

oh, and they didn't want to pay the insurance for keeping the building there...

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oops i just ran into your question on the other thread...haha

i'll further my answer - while chatting with the demo guy at penn, he mentioned that cherry was taking on milam soon (cherry does the larger buildings - and ben milam is a bit bigger than william penn).

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oops i just ran into your question on the other thread...haha

i'll further my answer - while chatting with the demo guy at penn, he mentioned that cherry was taking on milam soon (cherry does the larger buildings - and ben milam is a bit bigger than william penn).

Sevfiv,

you mentioned in the Wm Penn thread that you emailed Ramona Davis about its demolition. Do you think they know about the impending doom for the Ben Milam. Maybe they could get more advance publicity out on the demo before the deed is done and somehow someone might save it..or at least delay it. Not that its worked on many other structures in Houston..but its better to try and fail than waking up one morning and finding a wrecking ball in the side of a landmark without any warning.

Edited by gnu
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Sevfiv,

you mentioned in the Wm Penn thread that you emailed Ramona Davis about its demolition. Do you think they know about the impending doom for the Ben Milam. Maybe they could get more advance publicity out on the demo before the deed is done and somehow someone might save it..or at least delay it. Not that its worked on many other structures in Houston..but its better to try and fail than waking up one morning and finding a wrecking ball in the side of a landmark without any warning.

good call, gnu...i'll mention it in my reply to her.

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i am a little behind apparently...

Project No:

06005334

Date:

1/23/2006

USE:

DEMO BLD/ SEWER DISC

Owner / Occupant:

DEMO PERMIT

Job Address:

517 LA BRANCH ST

Tax ID:

0400010510000006

Subdivision:

Valuation:

0

Inspector Zone:

1

Permit Type:

12

FCC Group:

235

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The GHPA is going to try to get word out about the upcoming demolition, but they said the owner hasn't been too responsive in the past.

This is what always kinds of bothers me about the argument that more parking garages will reduce the demand for surface lots. We just keep getting more surface lots anyway. <_<

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okay, an update - maybe a little glimmer of hope. (and you can pass this on to ramona or whomever).

i spoke with someone else last night, and he said that the city has been pressuring the owner (smith?) to do SOMEthing with the site.

his first step is to demolish the garage and retail areas of the hotel (the ugly seventies-era additions). those permits have been issued. then, he will "try" to save the rest of the building...

he then went on to say that he is probably trying to appease city officials and just buying some time before it goes down...

my thoughts: after sitting vacant for twenty-plus years, it is literally a ____-hole inside. from a builder/investor financial perspective, i don't see how this building could survive...

-_-

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Here's the problem with Ben Milam, and the reason I think it is a goner. It is WORSE than Cenikor. Look at the height of the floors and you can see that they are shorter than (what is left of) Cenikor. If Spire says Cenikor had too little headroom, Milam is doomed. I have always believed that Cenikor had a chance, but Milam was toast. With Cenikor coming down, well....

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true, true - the first and second (or ground and first) floors of ben milam have a good clearance, but that's it.

not to mention it would take all the clorox and febreze in the world to get the stink out ^_^

Edited by sevfiv
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my thoughts: after sitting vacant for twenty-plus years, it is literally a ____-hole inside. from a builder/investor financial perspective, i don't see how this building could survive...

-_-

Yeah, but remember the Rice Hotel sat vacant for 20 years and was as much a ____-hole. Low ceilings shouldn't necessarily condemn a building.

I realize the Ben Milam is probably a goner, but can't they at least put something there other than more parking?

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i'll have to scan the rest of my postcards soon :)

it's intersting that the lower "terrace" was built into a second floor mezzanine level...i thought the open-air style was much neater...

Edited by sevfiv
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  • 2 weeks later...

I share your skepticism. The rooms in the Montagu Hotel, for example, are probably no larger than what was found in the William Penn and we don't encounter tremendous resistance from customers on account of size - although some do occassionally ask for something larger.

Besides, they could have just knocked down some walls and doubled the size of the rooms. That's what happened, I believe, when the old Auditorium Hotel was renovated 25 years ago and renamed the Lancaster. It is now one of the nicest boutique hotels downtown, although I'll admit I have no idea if they are profitable today. They have, however, stayed in business since they finished renovating in 1982, so I guess that answers the question.

sad but true...i could see ben milam hitting the crane - it is way worse off than william penn (was). william penn was perfectly fine inside - ben milam, on the other hand, has been exposed to the elements for a long time which makes for alot of nastiness...

according to the article in the chronicle yesterday, the reasons given from spire for not seeing through with renovation with penn was because the interior wasn't "profitable" - ceilings were too low and rooms were too small - puh-lease -_-

oh, and they didn't want to pay the insurance for keeping the building there...

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  • 5 months later...

While on my way to the baseball game, I was looking at the old Milam hotel and was stunned when I actually saw PEOPLE at one of the lower "deck" of the hotel facing AWAY from crawford (the name escapes me now, for some reason..) and they were barely visible from the street, but they as if they were just sitting there at a bench or table. As I approached MMP, I saw a fire hydrant with a hose going INTO the building (that was apparently turned on). I didn't get a chance to look around the building after the game (too bumed), but when I looked at the lower deck, no one was there.

Anything new going on in there? some REALLY bold tresspassers?

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And what does this portend? :unsure:

well, i bet that it's the first step in the demolition process, although if i am proved wrong, that would be fantastic (and really really really surprising).

the thing is, no recent permits have been issued - there were three in late january/early february for 517 and 517 1/2 la branch, and the demolition of the parking garage/retail followed. now, i don't know why three different permits were issued, and i don't know for how long they they are good.

BUT, i am pretty sure that they woud need a permit to do what they are doing now (interior work), and the latest one issued was for demolition. :(

Edited by sevfiv
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UPDATE:

The Ben Milam Hotel is now being renovated.

All of the asbestos has been removed.

A new chiller and cooling tower have been purchased.

Tenants have already been signed to move in.

On the first floor will be restaurants and a bank.

An attorney's office will occupy some of the floors.

Upper floors will be lofts.

A parking garage is to be added adjacent to the building.

I also learned that the Texaco building is also scheduled for renovations.

Equipment is being purchased now.

Current photos of the Ben Milam Hotel:

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UPDATE:

The Ben Milam Hotel is now being renovated.

All of the asbestos has been removed.

A new chiller and cooling tower have been purchased.

Tenants have already been signed to move in.

On the first floor will be restaurants and a bank.

An attorney's office will occupy some of the floors.

Upper floors will be lofts.

A parking garage is to be added adjacent to the building.

I also learned that the Texaco building is also scheduled for renovations.

Equipment is being purchased now.

That's great!!!!! :o In Aug I went to a game and saw people working in it, like everyone else I wasn't sure if they were getting ready to tear it down. Now we know

If you don't mind me asking,what's your source? Is there a website maybe any artist renderings? Tenant names?

Thanks for the update

Edited by Houstonian in Iraq
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That's great!!!!! :o In Aug I went to a game and saw people working in it, like everyone else I wasn't sure if they were getting ready to tear it down. Now we know

If you don't mind me asking,what's your source? Is there a website maybe any artist renderings? Tenant names?

Thanks for the update

I'm a Mechanical Engineer specializing in air conditioning design.

My information is mainly through equipment vendors.

For the Milam Hotel in particular, I spoke at length with the Construction Forman.

I learned some interesting stories about obstacles in getting the hotel renovated.

I forgot to mention that the hotel will include a historical area featuring some of the items saved.

The hotel once held offices for illegal gambling. The area could only be accessed through a secret door.

Though raided by police and shut down, the area has been untouched. Boards were still on the wall listing sporting events and scores.

When the mirrors were removed from the hotel rooms it was discovered that newspaper was used as padding behind every mirror. All of the newspapers are in good condition and were saved. They are all from the year 1928 which was when the hotel was being constructed.

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yes, thanks for the information - i wish it was in the public domain, though :blush:

thank goodness something is finally happening there - david smith sure has been alot of talk over the past couple decades...

Edited by sevfiv
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hey guys. this is my first post :D , but i am finally glad they are doing something with Ben Milam. this has been one of my favoriites and have been waiting for it to be developed. Sad to see the old William Penn go but hope this makes up for its great loss. Finally that sign on Crawford and Texas means something. :D:D:D

i have several pictures from both hotels and will post shortly for all to see.

And HELLO!! to all :o

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hey guys. this is my first post :D , but i am finally glad they are doing something with Ben Milam. this has been one of my favoriites and have been waiting for it to be developed. Sad to see the old William Penn go but hope this makes up for its great loss. Finally that sign on Crawford and Texas means something. :D:D:D

i have several pictures from both hotels and will post shortly for all to see.

And HELLO!! to all :o

Cool, and Welcome Houston 1973 :D

Edited by Houstonian in Iraq
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  • 1 month later...

Any news on this renovation? Today I noticed that most of the windows on the north and west sides of the building have been removed. I'm sure the pigeons appreciate that. :rolleyes: However, I didn't see any signs of activity.

Also: any theories as to why the bricks above the top-floor windows on the west side of the building look like they've been replaced? The color doesn't match. Could there have been a cornice on that side of the building which was removed?

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Anything going on at the Ben Milam now?

happened to drive by it a couple days ago - there's a refuse elevator on one side of the building, but definitely nothing major - they work like molasses, or maybe not at all anymore.

my cynical forecast says that this will slowly wind down (no more $), then it will accidentally topple down overnight, then there will be even more parking for astros fans.

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  • 2 months later...
happened to drive by it a couple days ago - there's a refuse elevator on one side of the building, but definitely nothing major - they work like molasses, or maybe not at all anymore.

my cynical forecast says that this will slowly wind down (no more $), then it will accidentally topple down overnight, then there will be even more parking for astros fans.

Just drove by yesterday. Noticed some Surveyor markers in front of the hotel.

does anyone have a clue as to what's going on? I'm dying of curiosity. I asked a couple of employees at the Inn at the Ballpark and they don't know what's going on either. Not that they really noticed anything they seemed quite trapped in their own little worlds. :)

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