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Oct. 29, 2004, 11:27PM

Next incarnation for aging eyesore

Condominiums may take place of hotel rooms

By NANCY SARNOFF

Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

A longtime downtown Houston eyesore, which was once the high-rise home to a transcendental meditation society, has been sold to an investment group that wants to turn it into condominiums.

A partnership led by Don Nicholas of LandCo Properties purchased the 30-story Days Inn building on St. Joseph Parkway between Milam and Travis on the southern end of downtown.

"An ugly duckling downtown will become a swan," said Nicholas, whose group is still studying what to do with the building.

The property was built in the 1970s as a Holiday Inn and later converted to a Days Inn before it was taken over by a group led by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who gained worldwide fame in the 1960s when he became the spiritual adviser for the Beatles.

Located on the south side of downtown, the property was never successful as a hotel because it sat too far away from downtown corporations, hotel analysts have said.

Nicholas and his partners have experience redeveloping old buildings.

The group converted a structure in Colorado Springs to CityWalk Downtown, a residential building. Units were priced from the low $100,000s to more than $300,000.

Nicholas said the Days Inn property reminded him of a larger version of the Colorado project.

"It doesn't have a beautiful view of the Rockies, but it still has beautiful views of the city side and park side," he said.

Tepid sales of downtown condominiums haven't stopped developers that see Houston as an up-and-coming residential market.

Last month, Silvestri Investments purchased an old brick warehouse just blocks from Minute Maid Park, where it is building out at least 50 condominiums.

And Randall Davis is planning to convert his St. Germain apartments on Main Street into for-sale units. He's selling the apartments for $180,000 on average and offering 100 percent financing.

"I think people would like the opportunity to buy a condo in downtown Houston," he said.

"Especially if it's priced right."

The Maharishi, the founder of transcendental meditation, bought the Days Inn property in the early 1990s for a reported $2 million.

It was renamed Heaven on Earth Inn, and the Maharishi's brand of meditation was taught there.

But the hotel fell into disrepair and became a dingy blemish on downtown's skyline. It has sat vacant since the late 1990s.

Adam Brackman and Jeff Kaplan of Wulfe & Co. brokered the sale.

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Under contract   https://www.loopnet.com/Listing/801-St-Joseph-Pky-Houston-TX/12352462/

I wish the HCHA was actually working on this, mixed/affordable housing in Downtown.   http://www.thedgstudios.com/project_houston_view.html            

This is a picture from today of a maintenance crew buttoning up the outside of the building. When I took the picture I ran into a sort of supervisor who shared some of what is going on (at least as mu

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Great news. Hope it works out. Converting old structures to residential high-rise makes a lot of sense, especially with rapidly rising steel and concrete prices and in a soft market. If this project does well maybe we'll see redevelopment of the old Sheraton and Melrose buildings.

After the Maharishi had apparently vacated the premises, the old Holiday Inn was taken over by homeless people. They were even manning the hotel switchboard. :lol: Eventually the city threw them out and boarded the place up.

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Well, it would be rather interesting to see what the rates would go for considering the rooms aren't (I would assume) all that larger than a typical Red Roof in.

The issue about it not being that close to area buildings could actually be a good selling point. If they don't make the rooms (condos) larger, I would be a bit taken aback if the prices go for more than $100k.

Ricco

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Hmm..I just saw this building, and it is butt ugly. I hope they fix it uip nicely.

Om mporis.com, it also says thet the ol Sheraton is vacant. Maybe they can convert that, too!

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Well, it would be rather interesting to see what the rates would go for considering the rooms aren't (I would assume) all that larger than a typical Red Roof in. 

The issue about it not being that close to area buildings could actually be a good selling point.  If they don't make the rooms (condos) larger, I would be a bit taken aback if the prices go for more than $100k.

Ricco

The interior would likely be fully gutted as part of any conversion, so the existing floor plans would not correspond to rooms after reconstruction.

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There's a photo of it in the business section of today's Chronicle. It really is a nice looking building once it gets cleaned up... I think these will make really great condos!

It kind of reminds me of the high rise where Bob & Emily Hartley lived in Chicago on the Bob Newhart Show :)

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  • 3 months later...

I found this when I was looking on Wulfe's website:

Lofts with retail at the base!

daysinnrendering.jpg

Location: Travis and St Joseph Pkwy

Notes: Natural retail location. I-45 visibility; one block from Main Street Light Rail Stop; located between Downtown and Texas Medical Center. Across the street from new Metro Intermodal Transit Station. 220 residential units in project. Ideal Users: Health Club; Bookstore, restaurants.

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I found this when I was looking on Wulfe's website:

Lofts with retail at the base!

daysinnrendering.jpg

Location: Travis and St Joseph Pkwy

Notes: Natural retail location. I-45 visibility; one block from Main Street Light Rail Stop; located between Downtown and Texas Medical Center. Across the street from new Metro Intermodal Transit Station. 220 residential units in project. Ideal Users: Health Club; Bookstore, restaurants.

Is this a renovation of the old Days Inn there by I-45?

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YOU GO! ED! . . . nice design!

Dear God please, please, please make this happen. I promise I'll be a good boy.

(in a hushed tone) psst! Adam, Jeff, & Ed. My gut instinct says that your clothing store won't work. I don't think people will go out of their way to shop at only one location. It needs to be a shopping destination with several retail choices. My 2 cents.

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Well, there isn't much to be done about the building from a design standpoint so the Wulfe Co's efforts are to be commended (though I still don't find the building particularly attractive in its revised condition).

Anyway, that would explain why I still see guys waltzing in and out of the building with hardhats (they're not doing anything all that spectacular inside but they're tooling around with ladders). Maybe they're taking inventory of the space for the designers. I know the building probably needs to go through asbestos abatement still.

Anyway, I'm glad to see that there are concrete plans for the building.

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I wonder how concrete the plans are. Wulfe hasn't made any press release about it, which he usually isn't shy to do. Lots of times it seems there are renderings for projects floating around that never get off the ground. Still, I really hope this one happens. The old Holiday/Days Inn is a massive eyesore.

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  • 4 months later...
Yep, the building was originally a Holiday Inn, and the street was originally Calhoun.  My favorite was its last name, the Heaven on Earth Inn.  It was owned by some Maharishi.

Well you never know. The old Hilton Hotel here in Dallas near SMU and across the street from Mockingbird Station (Central and Mockingbird) was ownedby some Maharishi until last year. The hotel was bought by a developer and is now being converted in Palomar Hotel and residents by a new developer. Prices starting at something like 350,000 up to a couple million for the condos. This is all being built on the idea of the transit mall at Mockingbird Station. So you never know.

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The Holiday Inn-Days-Inn-Heaven on Earth inn was lastly the Plaza Downtown. It was "converted" to low income housing in the mid 90s and was constantly having problems with police and inspectors. They finally vacated everyone (about 180 residents) from the Plaza because of things like no working fire alarms, no fire extinguishers (they say tenants were reselling them on the streets) and no hot water.

Anyhow, since then, it has sat and collected dust and there have been plans to redo it, but like many other projects, nothing has taken off.

And from 1990-1996, a couple of people died there (both on the 22nd floor...creepy!)
Ref: Houston Chronicle - April 23, 1996, Slain man identified
Houston Chronicle - April 15, 1997, Hotel given time to correct problems/Last-minute cash relieves worst ills
Houston Chronicle - February 19, 1990, Man dies in fall from downtown hotel

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Does anyone else recall this building having been converted to low income housing in the mid-90s? Are you sure you are not thinking of the other former Holiday Inn that is just west of downtown along the Memorial/Allen Parkway corridor? I believe it was converted to housing for the elderly sometime in the mid-to-late 90s. As far as I can remember, the former Holiday Inn/Days Inn/Heaven on Earth Inn has been empty since it was last a hotel, and has never been converted into anything.

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From what I remember it was effectively taken over by squatters, who were even operating the hotel switchboard. They got away with it because the ownership was in legal limbo for a while.

Btw now that St Joseph's hospital is being sold they should change the street name back to Calhoun.

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i will be happy when it is calhoun again :D

it was reported that the "tenants" were paying rent in some form - i suppose to the maharishi that still own it now...the police said that they couldn't find anyone "in charge" and that no one was in the 20th floor office of the maharishi institute when they went there to investigate some complaints.

i suppose it is about the same today, except people have to find new and unusual ways in now...heh

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