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Holiday / Days / Heaven On Earth Inn (801 Calhoun)

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Interesting, but, they gotta do something with those blank walls.

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notice how practically every big project has 2006 as the start date?

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Well, it's better than the current eyesore, but I wish they had used the first design in this thread. Btw, in the photoshop rendering the building is placed wrong - the parking garage is on the north.

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From a recent Chron article:

Meanwhile, LandCo is proceeding with a residential project on the southern end of downtown.

Last year, the company bought the long-vacant Days Inn hotel at 801 St. Joseph Parkway. Work will begin next year on converting the the 30-story building into 251 apartments, Raider said.

LandCo, which was created in the late 1990s, has developed land for single-family homes and recently began building high-rise residential projects.

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With lots of investor money and lots of work, this building does have potential.

For fifteen months during 1995 and 1996 ... which I have later referred to as the angriest period of time in my life ... I resided and worked at 801 Calhoun, now known as 801 St. Joseph Parkway. At the time I was there, this hotel was known as the Heaven on Earth Plaza Hotel, then before I moved elsewhere the name was changed to Houston Downtown Plaza Hotel. The hotel was originally a Holiday Inn, then later a Days Inn, so that is why there is a half-circle sign on the east and west sides of the building. This building is located on the south side of the block bordered by the streets St. Joseph's Parkway and Jefferson, Milam and Travis. This building is a couple blocks away from the condominiums at 2016 Main, and on the other side of I-45.

At the time I moved there the hotel was operated by people associated with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (who the Beatles went to see in the 1960s), they were having financial problems, and they offered part-time employment to people in exchange for rent. During my first months there I worked part-time at the front desk, then towards the end of my residence there I worked full-time as the administrative assistant to the general manager and assistant general manager.

I have read, and I have heard on the news that this is a 30-story building, but if I recall correctly, it is only 29 stories; if you go in the elevator, you can notice there is no button for floor 13; the 14th floor is really the 13th floor, and so on, so by the time you get up to the 30th floor, it is really the 29th. If I am remembering incorrectly, if the elevators do go to the 31st floor, then the building does have 30 floors. The first floor with rentable rooms was the eighth floor, the level with the swimming pool outside, so one can count from the outside how many floors this building has. After a high-rise safety meeting the assistant general manager attended in the Exxon building a couple blocks to the north, he came back saying people who worked in that building referred to ours as "the Beirut Hilton". It really did look bad and the last time I drove by months ago it still did.

At the time I resided there, there was a meditation school on the 20th floor, then as the months went by the 19th floor was also being used by the people associated with the maharishi. Most of the time I lived there, the hotel was managed by one of the meditators. Once someone told me meditators are not good managers, because when there are problems they just go meditate. Certainly with their lack of cash-flow in the building, there were numerous problems irritating to the tenants. Working at the front desk, I was there one day when a man came to turn off the electricity, then the meditator/manager gave him a check immediately. One time a guest of the hotel told me that this was typical of hotels to become run-down that were owned by the meditators; he claimed he had been to one other city and stayed in a hotel that was owned by the same people and that building had similar problems.

There were many problems in this building when I lived there, some of which were mentioned in the Houston Press August 15-21, 1996 issue, the article "Out Heaven's Gate" on page 8 and 9.

There were at least two columns of plumbing that did not work. Floor 12 was disgusting, even with black liquid coming up in at least one sink; I saw this problem in one room and was told it was happening in others. There were rats in the building and people were afraid; one guy even put a metal plate on the wall behind his toilet; my supervisor at the front desk told me some rats were crawling up the plumbing and chewing through the wall behind the toilet to enter the rooms where they smelled food, she giving the example that since there were not enough people to clean the rooms, that sometimes it was a couple days before it could get done, and the rats would smell left-over food, like pizza left behind. One day I was on Milam and saw my front-desk supervisor crossing the street, and when she got near me she said that thing laying in the street near the crosswalk at Jefferson was a big rat that was run over by a car. Once when I was in the elevator and the door opened at the eighth floor I saw a rat run down the hall and under a doorway. I started sleeping with my bathroom door shut, but I doubt that really would have helped since I saw that rat crawl under a door! There was asbestos removal in a couple of upper floors while I was living there, the floors that were being converted to two-room apartments. Because of the cash-flow problems, we often were able to use only one elevator, then sometimes that one quit working. It was after that when I moved from the 25th floor to the 17th floor, so I would not have to walk up so many stairs to get home whenever that problem would happen again. There was a problem with, if I remember correctly, a valve related to the swimming pool, so the swimming pool was drained and closed ... which was sad for me because the one thing I really did enjoy while living there was taking my CD player with me and swimming late at night to music. The rooms on the south side of the building, facing I-45 are noisy with the traffic constantly zooming by, but like I used to tell people, if they'd constantly play nice music in their rooms, it wouldn't be a big problem.

We were forbidden to use what was built as the main entrance to the south, and were commanded to use the secondary entrance along Milam, but occasionally defiant residents exited south. Later I've heard about Feng-Shui, to which I suppose the meditators' beliefs were at least similar. They also had eastern music constantly playing to the north in a vacant room on one of the top floors. I was told by one of the meditators that their beliefs included that if a certain percentage of one percent of people would meditate, there would be peace in the world. If I remember correctly, it was said to be 1/4 of 1%.

We were also forbidden to open the windows in our rooms; some of the railings on the balconies were loose, and at the time the swimming pool was still open, we could look up and see one railing hanging off the ledge.

A few years ago I was working a couple blocks away from that building, and I walked by during lunch and saw the sticker on the front door that said the building was condemned by the City of Houston. With all of its many problems, I understand why.

With lots of investor money and lots of work, this building does have potential, and it is now more convenient having the Randall's grocery store nearby, whereas when I lived there the nearest grocery store was Fiesta south of downtown. It is very sad that this building became so run-down and an eyesore to the Houston skyline.

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Welcome to the Forum, Margaret.Ann.1958.

Thanks for your recollections of this building. I especially like the quote, "Once someone told me meditators are not good managers, because when there are problems they just go meditate."

Apparently, I rent from a meditator. <_<

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Welcome to the Forum, Margaret.Ann.1958.

Thanks for your recollections of this building. I especially like the quote, "Once someone told me meditators are not good managers, because when there are problems they just go meditate."

Apparently, I rent from a meditator.  <_<

:lol::lol::lol:

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welcome to the forum! what an interesting experience!

i have an old brochure of when it was originally the holiday inn...i'll have to scan it and post some images (what a difference!)

about two months ago i read up on all the articles about the place from the houston chronicle archives (from how it was a convention-type hotel, to the point where tenants were selling the hotel's fire extinguishers on the street!).

a huge transformation indeed

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yeah - everything around that garage smells like pee...i'll take it if someone pressure washes it for me :P

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these are a couple years old:

plazaclosesm.jpg

this is in a "storage" room in the garage

plazamesssm.jpg

one of the bars from the 80's holiday inn (good tiiiiiiimes!)

loungesm.jpg

also, the wulfe website has the site plan for this - it would be interesting to see THAT happen!

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i would guess the brochure is from the mid-eighties...the only potential project is the raiders lofts, which has its own thread...

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i've always wondered about that building! so i guess the status is still "begining 2006". if they keep with the plan posted on the wulfe site it'll be a really nice building!

edit:

is this a PROPOSED project? because HCAD's information was updated 10/28/05 and the data on their site says its still owned by MAHARISHI GLOBAL DEV FUND

Edited by danes75

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The sooner they start on this building, the better in my opinion. I think it could be nice as a loft building, plus that section of downtown could use a jump start. Its a great location close to the rail and midtown. If this actually happens plus if someone could ever do something with the Central Bank building, the view of downtown from I-45 would get much, much better.

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i don't know what's up with the maharishi organization. maybe this is all a farce, because i know they aren't doing anything with it.

things would be fantastic if the days inn, central square, and savoy were rehabbed, or dare i say taken out of their misery. i am scared to think about the cost of restoration since the owners of these buildings have been so neglectful :angry:

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i'm just wondering if wulfe has actually bought the building or if they backed out for some reason. i've never heard of a developer announcing a building being built/renod before they've even purchased it.

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it is strange...maybe we should write and ask :unsure:

this is kind of odd as well:

http://www.texasfreeway.com/dallas/newsfla..._problems.shtml

The fund's project manager, Dan Wasielewski, said Wednesday that his side also will appeal the ruling. "Our appraisers have concluded that the land is worth much more than the award," he said. The $22 million is about five times more per acre than the fund paid last year for the tract and adjoining acreage, where it once proposed to build the world's tallest skyscraper.

whaaaaaa?!

and this:

http://www.rickross.com/reference/tm/tm13.html

there are tons of articles like those...

i thought "global development" meant something else!

Edited by sevfiv

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Come on guys... deep down we all know this is not going to happen...

Come on it's already there. It's a fixer upper. It's just a matter of time.

Edited by Houstonian in Iraq

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I didn't know that was the same company as the "skyscraper" people. I lived in Dallas when they announced that crap (seems as though it was right after 9/11). They've bought land in several major cities around the US with the intention of building the "world's tallest skyscraper", all of which the city councils denied for one reason or another. The Dallas area one was axed because of air traffic from DFW airport and the fear that it would pull companies out of the business districts.

Seems like they spend all their money on attorneys and buying up useless properties.

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Hey wharton, here's a tissue, bud. I hate to see anyone cry, honestly, but this building is a pipe dream, at least for condos. I can't see anyone spending the kind of money they were talking about charging for the level of finish they were going to provide in a building that has 8' ceilings deck-to-deck.

It's a very typical mentality of out-of-state developers - everyone thinks they are going to come to Houston and beat the market.

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I bet if this deal falls thru they'll blow it up and build a CVS or something...

i hate that building. It looks like one of those towers in sarajevo. Even when it was new i bet it was hideos. Same goes for University Tower in college station, but at least its occupied

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Then they need to tear the building that's there down already. I don't think I can live with the eyesore much longer! :)

they cant tear the existing structure down, paid too much for the site. hypothetically speaking and using imaginary, rounded numbers...

say they paid 10m for 200,000 sq ft of structure and its sitting on 50,000 sq ft of land. to renovate, they are in at $50 psf. if they tear it down just for the dirt, they are in at $200 psf (excluding demo costs). if the numbers barely worked on a rehab, see how it wouldnt at all on a demo?

make sense?

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so it is a crapshoot...

speaking of crap, there is so much of it inside!

it's one hell of a fixer-upper... :unsure:

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they cant tear the existing structure down, paid too much for the site. hypothetically speaking and using imaginary, rounded numbers...

say they paid 10m for 200,000 sq ft of structure and its sitting on 50,000 sq ft of land. to renovate, they are in at $50 psf. if they tear it down just for the dirt, they are in at $200 psf (excluding demo costs). if the numbers barely worked on a rehab, see how it wouldnt at all on a demo?

that sucks.

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I just noticed today there appears to be some digging happening on the lot right next to the Days Inn, between Louisiana and Travis. I spotted some backhoes and bulldozers tearing up the pavement and piling up dirt. Anyone know what this is?

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I'd tried to ask construction workers this morning what was up but they didn't have much to say. It would be nice if it were to become a park (I mean, for people, not cars). Alas, I suspect that they're probably improving the drainage beneath and then repaving the lot. You'd think one of the real estate reporters in town would've had a hot scoop if something more tasty was going on there.

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ok LTAWACS could you please shut up, nothing is more annoying than someone saying that crap over and over, if u aint got nothing imporatant with some sort of interest of whats going on, then shut up, ok now that thats been said, whats up with this project, i mean ive been waiting for someone to even concider this building from the very beginning, its a piece of crap, but land values are flying off the wall in houston, they just keep goin up and up, sooner or later somethings gonna happen to this building, trust me, its inevitable

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I found an article (a while ago) that said they weren't going to start on this project until sometime next year.

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Come on it's already there. It's a fixer upper. It's just a matter of time.

Some months ago the Houston Business Journal stated that this building was purchased by Landco, a Colorado company.

I hope the project goes through. Most opinions here seem to be unfavorable but I would definitely consider living there.

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Why the metroplex? Someone will fix this building up or tear it down and build something else. It will probably happen sooner than most think!

Edited by T 2 THA C

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WHY THE METROPLEX? SOMEONE WILL FIX THIS BUILDING UP OR TEAR IT DOWN AND BUILD SOMETHING ELSE. IT WILL PROBABLY HAPPEN SOONER THAN MOST THINK!

Stop yelling.

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Stop yelling.

Did not mean to hurt ne feelings, I guess some people have more time than I do to make sure everything is perfect.

Edited by T 2 THA C

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