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1111 Rusk: Texaco Building Renovation

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More on Benjamin opening this yea at The Star at 111 Rusk in downtown Houston.

From Papercity Magazine



Berg plans to open a new restaurant named Benjamin in the downtown luxury high-rise The Star at 1111 Rusk in late summer or early fall. Recognize that address? The Star restored the Texaco building, an iconic Houston landmark that’s 102 years old.


“I fell in love with the space,” Berg tells PaperCity. He was drawn to the historic building instantly, and his New York roots sealed the deal.

 

“To be honest, I probably shouldn’t have, but when I found out that the original architects were the guys Warren & Wetmore, architects of Grand Central Station, I kind of thought ‘I have to do this being from New York.’ ”

An “approachable, upscale” restaurant is what’s moving in. Something “somewhat grand but simple” in Berg’s words. In contrast to B&B Butchers, this new restaurant will have more European influence. Berg has done “really big menus, this is going to be a little more refined of a menu.”

... Benjamin will also bring a distinctive atmosphere that surprises at first glance, but it’s a world away from B&B. It’s all about openness, airiness. Think Eleven Madison Park in New York.

Whereas the original B&B measures in at 7,500 square feet, Benjamin will have that much room in its mezzanine alone. The downstairs boasts 10,000 square feet of space, bringing the total to nearly 18,000.
 

The space at The Star “has that real presence to it,” Berg believes — from its exterior arches, to its tall windows and high ceilings. “It will be very airy,” he says.


The tables got a little close at B&B. Benjamin brings “a more elegant dining experience in a really approachable manner,” Berg says.


“The potential of it is amazing.”


Imagine a dining room that can seat 180 to 200, a bar that can seat 60, and private dining rooms with capacity for more than 400 diners. Berg is looking at the big picture, and room for private events was a real draw.


“For everything Houston has, there’s a gap here in private event space,” he says. For parties of 200 and up, the options are limited to hotels and country clubs. “You don’t have the options,” Berg says.


“One of the big drivers with the space was the ability to do great restaurant-quality events” in a historic, iconic building. Berg hopes to host everything from weddings to charity balls to business functions.


Benjamin will have two kitchens, one downstairs and one upstairs. The mezzanine kitchen will be reserved for private parties. The private kitchen will prepare a more extensive menu than people normally expect for catering.
 

“I really want the private event to not lock people in,” Berg says. “I want to be able to give a lot of choices.”

More: https://www.papercitymag.com/restaurants/benjamin-berg-downtown-houston-restaurant-benjamins-texaco-building-carmelos-bb-butchers/

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The Tower crane is coming down this weekend. Downtown will be down to just 3 tower cranes now. 2 at Capitol tower and 1 at Camden Conte.

 

San Jacinto St. Construction
Friday, March 9 (9 pm) – Monday, March 12 (5 am
Complete continuous closure of the 700 block of San Jacinto St. (between Rusk and Capitol) for crane dismantlement.

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19 minutes ago, j_cuevas713 said:

Is that in the shape of Indiana?

Perhaps Salvador Dali's persistence of Indiana

Indiana.jpg

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9 hours ago, j_cuevas713 said:

Is that in the shape of Indiana?

It looks more like Venezuela to me but I couldn't tell  you why it is that shape.

Venezuela.PNG

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This photo clusters three of our newest and soon to be newest apartment and condo towers.

Both Texaco and Southwest Life,  repurposed, and the other Catalyst, designed by  local  architects Ziegler Cooper.

I remember when I first started following this site there were always cries of dismay at yet another important structure biting the dust for a new parking garage 

or office building. In the last five years we have seen a complete turn around in the developers mindset. An amazing number of downtown structures have been repurposed into

hotels, office buildings, restaurants and city services.

Obviously a major seed change that I think we need to recognize and appreciate, while continuing to fight for more.

 

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Looking for some advice from this community as a resident of The Star Apartments (Texaco Building). Within the past few weeks The Star has started renting out apartments (40 units currently) for short term rentals essentially turning our home into a hotel. This has deeply upset many of the residents and impacts our safety among many other items that I will not bother getting into here. The property management company is Lincoln Property Company and the owner is Provident Realty Advisors. A national third party company specializing in short term rentals, Stay Alfred, is managing all aspects of the short term rentals. The rooms are available via many normal booking sites (hotels.com, expedia, AirBnB, etc) at an extremely low rate attracting a unique clientele. 

 

Questions:

  • Does this community have any insight into if any of the parties involved are violating any rules or regulations by offering short term rentals in this space? 
  • Building registered for long term rentals vs short term rentals?
  • Owners loan type being incorrectly used?
  • Historic building codes?

The residents would like to see this building kept as a long term apartment and not a mixed apartment/hotel. 

 

Thank you for your time.

 

 

Edited by Houstonacl

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23 minutes ago, Houstonacl said:

Looking for some advice from this community as a resident of The Star Apartments (Texaco Building). Within the past few weeks The Star has started renting out apartments (40 units currently) for short term rentals essentially turning our home into a hotel. This has deeply upset many of the residents and impacts our safety among many other items that I will not bother getting into here. The property management company is Lincoln Property Company and the owner is Provident Realty Advisors. A national third party company specializing in short term rentals, Stay Alfred, is managing all aspects of the short term rentals. The rooms are available via many normal booking sites (hotels.com, expedia, AirBnB, etc) at an extremely low rate attracting a unique clientele. 

 

Questions:

  • Does this community have any insight into if any of the parties involved are violating any rules or regulations by offering short term rentals in this space? 
  • Building registered for long term rentals vs short term rentals?
  • Owners loan type being incorrectly used?
  • Historic building codes?

The residents would like to see this building kept as a long term apartment and not a mixed apartment/hotel. 

 

Thank you for your time.

 

 

I doubt you have any legal recourse.   I would get as many residents possible to leave detailed reviews on yelp and apartments.com.  Maybe even make a post on reddit or send something to swamplot.   There is the possibility they could terminate or not renew your lease if they feel you're not worth having a resident because of your complaints.   At this point the only thing they will probably respond to is bad press and loss of profits. 

 

AirBnb listing  https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/25844374

Stay Alfred  https://www.stayalfred.com/houston-vacation-rentals
 

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1 hour ago, Houstonacl said:

Looking for some advice from this community as a resident of The Star Apartments (Texaco Building). Within the past few weeks The Star has started renting out apartments (40 units currently) for short term rentals essentially turning our home into a hotel. This has deeply upset many of the residents and impacts our safety among many other items that I will not bother getting into here. The property management company is Lincoln Property Company and the owner is Provident Realty Advisors. A national third party company specializing in short term rentals, Stay Alfred, is managing all aspects of the short term rentals. The rooms are available via many normal booking sites (hotels.com, expedia, AirBnB, etc) at an extremely low rate attracting a unique clientele. 

 

Questions:

  • Does this community have any insight into if any of the parties involved are violating any rules or regulations by offering short term rentals in this space? 
  • Building registered for long term rentals vs short term rentals?
  • Owners loan type being incorrectly used?
  • Historic building codes?

The residents would like to see this building kept as a long term apartment and not a mixed apartment/hotel. 

 

Thank you for your time.

 

 

I am saddened to hear this news.  

 

 

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So, for what's it worth, I checked Stay Alfred's website and it looks like they're charging $168.67 per night. 

 

I'm genuinely curious - what exactly is the concern here? Is there any reason to believe this is a long-term strategy, or is this just a way for the property owner to make a little more money while the building is filling up? Even if this is intended to be long-term, what negative repercussions are anticipated?

 

 

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Thanks for the info!

 

This is a long term strategy. They have signed a 12 month contact with Stay Alfred. They are "testing" with 40 units.

 

They have increased the rate by about $80 over the past week. This is still low considering comparable hotels in the downtown area. Price is irrelevant though. 

 

I see major concerns. First and foremost is safety. We live in an urban environment but the second we walk into this building we have felt safe with the staff and safety features. This isn't the case now. All residents of the building undergo a full background check during the application process. This isn't the case for hotel guests that can book a hotel room as quickly as tomorrow night and have access to the building without hours. I could have a convicted felon or sex offender in the room next to ours while I'm out on travel and my wife is here alone. Sure, a long term renter could have a guest over that is a concern but the likelihood is much less. The building turning into a hotel makes our front door a revolving door with zero screening of hotel occupants a frequent occurrence. Odds just go up of something happening.

 

Many of the other concerns include abuse to amenities, noise, damage to common areas, etc. These concerns have become reality already within a few weeks of this conversion. At the end of the day living in an apartment is different than a hotel. 

 

Again, thanks for the responses.

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If I were a resident, I imagine this would feel like a bait and switch. I guess that's the risk you run with a new property like this, but renting a unit in a hotel is a totally different basket of issues.  Hopefully it is short term, they are competing against about a zillion hotel rooms downtown now. 

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I assume your landlord has rules against short-term sublease, but what's the difference between this and other residents in the building offering their units up for rental on airbnb? I've stayed in short-term rental properties similar to this all over the world and actually prefer it to a hotel. While it might be annoying, I doubt there is a legitimate safety concern. Most people on airbnb, vrbo, etc. have to submit a drivers license and other info in order to set up a profile. If there is any issue on site, they would know who is there vs a guest of a tenant who can just leave without being identified.

 

I would ask the landlord if they plan to rent out specific floors in the future, with restricted access to long-term tenant floors. That would seems much better for them than units mixed throughout the building. 

 

 

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Mendocino Farms is awesome. Such an exciting addition to Downtown. I’m happy that Houston is the first city for expansion outside of California. Looks like we’ll get at least two locations with Rice Village and Downtown. 

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33 minutes ago, LBC2HTX said:

Mendocino Farms is awesome. Such an exciting addition to Downtown. I’m happy that Houston is the first city for expansion outside of California. Looks like we’ll get at least two locations with Rice Village and Downtown. 




Yes. The Rice Village location of Mendocino Farms was discussed in July in the Rice Village thread:
 

On 7/22/2018 at 6:47 AM, CrockpotandGravel said:



" Mendocino Farms, a creator of seasonal and healthy sandwiches and salads from California " (copied from Mercury News), is expanding to Houston. A location is opening in Rice Village at 5510 Morningside Dr, Suite 120 between D'Amico Italian Cafe and Hopdoddy Burger Bar. It's opening where Nao Ramen was.

https://www.mendocinofarms.com/houston/


On 7/25/2018 at 1:11 AM, CrockpotandGravel said:



From Eater Houston


Mendocino Farms, a Los Angeles original for delicious and responsibly sourced sandwiches and salads, is making its way to Houston for its first location outside the Golden State.

The forthcoming outpost will debut in Rice Village at 5510 Morningside Drive sometime in 2019, according to the restaurant’s website. While more specific details weren’t available at press time, what Eater does know for sure is that the forthcoming eatery (replacing Nao Ramen) will serve up its popular SoCal menu of responsibly raised meats atop salads and in sandwiches, plus vegan and gluten-free options.

The restaurant touts its “artisan” partners — sourcing bread, salumi, and poultry from humane and sustainable family-owned operations in California — with a menu offering Americana classics like tuna melts, BLT, and roasted chicken sandwiches, but throwing in some Asian and Italian twists, like chicken and pork belly banh mi, plus sandwiches stuffed with tempeh or prosciutto and mozzarella.

When Mendocino Farms lands in Houston next year, it will join another imported sandwich shop, East Hampton Sandwich Co from Dallas, that debuted two locations in quick succession this summer. Stay tuned for Medocino Farm’s official Rice Village opening date.


https://houston.eater.com/2018/7/24/17608212/mendocino-farms-debut-sustainable-salads-and-sandwiches-rice-village-houston




 

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I just googled reviews on this property.  It seems that some reviews by tenants were very negative on the “Stay Alfred” room rental.  It also appears that “a week ago” management responded to several reviews and indicated that they sent a letter around to all tenants explaining that “Stay Alfred (is)vacating our community.”   Hopefully the Star is filling up with tenants so that they don’t have to pretend to be a hotel..  Frankly, I think it was a really bad idea to begin with.  Had I been looking for an apartment, and knew about that “hotel” practice, I would not have leased there.

 

is the B&B Butcher restaraunt under construction?

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1 hour ago, UtterlyUrban said:

I just googled reviews on this property.  It seems that some reviews by tenants were very negative on the “Stay Alfred” room rental.  It also appears that “a week ago” management responded to several reviews and indicated that they sent a letter around to all tenants explaining that “Stay Alfred (is)vacating our community.”   Hopefully the Star is filling up with tenants so that they don’t have to pretend to be a hotel..  Frankly, I think it was a really bad idea to begin with.  Had I been looking for an apartment, and knew about that “hotel” practice, I would not have leased there.

 

is the B&B Butcher restaraunt under construction?

 

Hopefully they are filling with tenants. One of the major drawbacks of having to live in an apartment is the neighbor noise. People that have no long term incentive to get along with people on the other side of a wall are going to be even less considerate. 

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Sounds like the restaurant from the owner of B&B Butchers is still on - just delayed because of historic redevelopment permitting:

 

Benjamin, which requested construction permits in late December, has faced delays as it worked through the redevelopment constraints. It was originally scheduled to open in 2018 but is now slated to open later this year.”

Read more at: https://www.bisnow.com/houston/news/mixed-use/peeling-back-the-onion-an-exposed-process-of-renovating-a-pre-war-building-into-mixed-use-in-downtown-houston-96271#ath?utm_source=CopyShare&utm_medium=Browser

 

Other interesting trivia in the article like there was a plan for balconies in some units but they were cost prohibitive. 

 

 

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There appears to be nothing about this entire rehab for this building that went even remotely on time.  Glad to see that they building and it’s ground floor amenities are coming together.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, UtterlyUrban said:

There appears to be nothing about this entire rehab for this building that went even remotely on time.  Glad to see that they building and it’s ground floor amenities are coming together.

 

This is becoming standard in this city at this point. There is only one genuine permitting location for anyone building in the city of Houston. With all the construction thats taking place you can imagine how stuffed they probably are at this point. We really need to decentralize the permitting authority. The city is just too big and spread out to rely on one significantly understaffed entity. Until that happens, the wait times for permits are only going to get longer and longer. Now imagine if we did have zoning! Non-zoning can be a blessing or a curse, but we would not see the rapid amount of construction here if it were like other zoned cities. Think about the delay this guy got and multiply x2.

 

EDIT: As an addendum, expanding on my point of decentralization, I'm advocating that each district be given permitting authority. Have the City of Houston provide an umbrella of permitting guidelines and then let each district add on top of that. This city is simply not robust enough infrastructurally to handle the entire city. We function more like smaller towns that make up a bigger whole anyway. Better to give these districts or place more autonomy and say to allow them to be more flexible and agile.

Edited by Luminare
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Two things have the permitting office a bit hamstrung:  We're still dealing with Harvey reconstruction, and budgetary concerns brought on by people who believe in The Money Fairy.  Going from one office location to four (or however many) won't really make any difference unless it results in an increase in staffing - which could just as easily work with a central location.

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I wonder if they are still planning to do the second phase, with the condo tower on top of the garage, or if that is postponed indefinitely.  Considering how quickly the other new condos downtown have sold (Marlowe), I wouldn't be surprised if there is a good market for it.  Perhaps they will start on that once the restaurant buildout is complete?

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20 hours ago, rechlin said:

I wonder if they are still planning to do the second phase, with the condo tower on top of the garage, or if that is postponed indefinitely.  Considering how quickly the other new condos downtown have sold (Marlowe), I wouldn't be surprised if there is a good market for it.  Perhaps they will start on that once the restaurant buildout is complete?

I am unaware that they built the foundation of the parking garage to support this.   There was much talk of this when the garage was being built.  Not sure if they actually put that foundation in or not.

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On ‎10‎/‎19‎/‎2018 at 8:00 AM, Nate99 said:

 

Hopefully they are filling with tenants. One of the major drawbacks of having to live in an apartment is the neighbor noise. People that have no long term incentive to get along with people on the other side of a wall are going to be even less considerate. 

 

They are at 70% occupancy by my source. Lease-up seems to have stalled a little last quarter, perhaps due to Harvey-related move-outs.

 

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On 1/5/2019 at 10:32 AM, mollusk said:

Two things have the permitting office a bit hamstrung:  We're still dealing with Harvey reconstruction, and budgetary concerns brought on by people who believe in The Money Fairy.  Going from one office location to four (or however many) won't really make any difference unless it results in an increase in staffing - which could just as easily work with a central location.

 

Yes if workload is the apparent issue, decentralization would only make it worse.

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42 minutes ago, mattyt36 said:

 

Yes if workload is the apparent issue, decentralization would only make it worse.

 

Simple question: Are you quicker and more agile when you are small or when you are big?

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2 minutes ago, Luminare said:

 

Simple question: Are you quicker and more agile when you are small or when you are big?

 

Great platitude that demonstrates no consideration of the specific work being done in this situation.

 

We're talking about relatively rote, "check-the-box" processing of permit applications in accordance with City regulations.  I'd say it's a safe bet that processing capacity is pretty close to a linear function of the number of staff.

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1 minute ago, mattyt36 said:

 

Great platitude that demonstrates no consideration of the specific work being done in this situation.

 

We're talking about relatively rote, "check-the-box" processing of permit applications in accordance with City regulations.  I'd say it's a safe bet that processing capacity is pretty close to a linear function of the number of staff.

 

You obviously don't work in this business...its not that simple (I wish it was). The permitting process has an underlying level of subjectivity that is predicated on who is furnishing the permit at the office.

 

However, my previous question was. Once again, simple question: Are you quicker and more agile when you are small or when you are big?

 

We can work up to the bigger idea, but thats a non-starter if you can't even break big ideas into smaller parts and answer simple foundational questions.

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, Luminare said:

 

You obviously don't work in this business...its not that simple (I wish it was). The permitting process has an underlying level of subjectivity that is predicated on who is furnishing the permit at the office.

 

However, my previous question was. Once again, simple question: Are you quicker and more agile when you are small or when you are big?

 

We can work up to the bigger idea, but thats a non-starter if you can't even break big ideas into smaller parts and answer simple foundational questions.

 

Luminaire, instead of speaking in overly simplistic and trite generalities, why don't you start with explaining how your prescription moving the same people to different offices to perform the same job magically solves the problem simply because small is "quicker and more agile."  Are you now saying the problem is with subjectivity?  Decentralization seems like a fine solution to address that. 

Edited by mattyt36

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19 minutes ago, mattyt36 said:

 

Luminaire, instead of speaking in overly simplistic and trite generalities, why don't you start with explaining how your prescription moving the same people to different offices to perform the same job magically solves the problem simply because small is "quicker and more agile."  Are you now saying the problem is with subjectivity?  Decentralization seems like a fine solution to address that. 

 

I believe one wise soul once said, "Only a fool believes they are the smartest in the room".

 

I can infer this by the very fact that you believe that you are too good or too "smart" to talk in what you arrogantly point out as being "simplistic" and "trite". We can't even begin to build upon anything until we start at the very bottom. We have to base ourselves in the general and then narrow the discussion into something more detailed (I can't believe I even have to say this. Its so fundamental it should be common sense or self-evident...) We have to be able to agree with fundamental understandings of things and be able to agree to simple questions.

 

Why make this so difficult on yourself?....Again: Are you quicker and more agile when you are small or when you are big?

 

Maybe that is too complicated though. Maybe we need to start somewhere else. Even simpler question: Do you believe the world is a zero-sum game?

 

Finally you need to take your emotion out of this. I'm not here to question you as a person, but your line of reasoning! Your line of thinking is not properly grounded for a discussion to even happen.

 

Are you willing to learn something today? Or are you here to waste peoples time, and server space.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Luminare said:

 

I believe one wise soul once said, "Only a fool believes they are the smartest in the room".

 

I can infer this by the very fact that you believe that you are too good or too "smart" to talk in what you arrogantly point out as being "simplistic" and "trite". We can't even begin to build upon anything until we start at the very bottom. We have to base ourselves in the general and then narrow the discussion into something more detailed (I can't believe I even have to say this. Its so fundamental it should be common sense or self-evident...) We have to be able to agree with fundamental understandings of things and be able to agree to simple questions.

 

Why make this so difficult on yourself?....Again: Are you quicker and more agile when you are small or when you are big?

 

Maybe that is too complicated though. Maybe we need to start somewhere else. Even simpler question: Do you believe the world is a zero-sum game?

 

Finally you need to take your emotion out of this. I'm not here to question you as a person, but your line of reasoning! Your line of thinking is not properly grounded for a discussion to even happen.

 

Are you willing to learn something today? Or are you here to waste peoples time, and server space.

 

Oh Loomy, bless your heart and those 12-inch stilettos you seem to be standing in.  Emotional, eh?

 

Lots of lecturing and, what, 4 posts, yet no substantive rationale given as to why decentralization is an answer for the permitting problem you're concerned with.  

 

By any reasonably objective standard, especially 4 posts in with plenty of ignored opportunities for expanding your ideas ("Oh, I mean as part of a comprehensive process redesign," or whatever it means, exactly), parroting and reparroting an empty turn of phrase as a rationale is trite and simplistic.  Sports are all about quickness and agility, so maybe we should run your maxim by Jeff Luhnow, Brian Gaine, or Darryl Morey--why the need to fill out the roster?   Maybe they should run split squads!  (Or, am I wrong, "quicker and more agile when you are small" is a widely recognized maxim solely in the municipal permitting industry?)

 

And no, sir, please do not deign to "dumb it down" for Li'l Ole Me--quite the contrary--I'm asking specifics as to how decentralization would help relieve workload issues caused by high demand attributable to Harvey reconstruction (an entirely believable problem another poster referred to) or "subjectivity" (another problem you have recently introduced).  

 

("Only a fool believes they are the smartest in the room," eh?  That sentiment jibes oh-so-well with naked condescension such as "Your line of thinking is not properly grounded for a discussion to even happen"; "are you willing to learn something today"; "or are you here to waste peoples time, and server space," doesn't it?  It actually jibes pretty well with your screenname.  Someone seems to have an inappropriately elevated opinion of himself.  But I'll let you have this one, Loomy . . . it seems to be an issue near and dear to your heart . . . and emotionally so.)

Edited by mattyt36
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@mattyt36 So what you are saying is that you are not only far beyond in intellect that you can't be bothered to answer a few simple questions (as its beneath your obvious high-intellect) or even learn from others (I mean why should you since you seem to be all-knowing), but you really do consider yourself to also be supremely clever, funny, and original, right? I'm simply clarifying. If you can answer this question (at least give this poor depraved soul one answer to this measly one question) then I'll tell you everything you want to know.

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7 minutes ago, Luminare said:

@mattyt36 So what you are saying is that you are not only far beyond in intellect that you can't be bothered to answer a few simple questions (as its beneath your obvious high-intellect) or even learn from others (I mean why should you since you seem to be all-knowing), but you really do consider yourself to also be supremely clever, funny, and original, right? I'm simply clarifying. If you can answer this question (at least give this poor depraved soul one answer to this measly one question) then I'll tell you everything you want to know.

 

Yeah, that's it exactly . . . 👍

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9 minutes ago, mattyt36 said:

 

Yeah, that's it exactly . . . 👍

 

Excellent!

 

Yeah...no...I think I'm going to pass lololol

.

.

.

.

.

.

But thanks for letting us know exactly the kind of person you really are :) Ciao.

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Posted (edited)

And still we wait for any hint of why multiple scattered offices would help the permitting process.😴

Edited by Houston19514

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Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

And still we wait for any hint of why multiple scattered offices would help the permitting process.😴

 

Well, may I ask, why would one be better? I mean it does have its advantages, but what could be the disadvantages you might think?

 

EDIT: Example will be New York City. Super Big City right, but does everything get permitted in Manhattan? Nope. Each Borough has its own permitting authority.

Edited by Luminare

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1 minute ago, Texasota said:

Yeah that seems like enough. Or at least spin this nonsense into its own thread.

 

probably for the best. Unfortunately.

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