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509 & 517 Louisiana to be Demolished

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Swamplot gives the buildings a nice send off with some history

http://swamplot.com/teardown-in-progress-on-those-2-century-old-louisiana-st-buildings-being-demolished-for-lancaster-parking-space/2016-01-12/

 

 

 

But the two buildings were constructed in 1906, and earlier in their 100 years also witnessed the development of the surrounding area from red light district to the highbrow and lowbrow entertainment hotspot anchored by the nearby City Auditorium (one block south, where Jones Hall now stands).

 

 

 

 Rice architectural historian Stephen Fox writes that the hotel “had never been one of the city’s more notable hostelries” until its 1983 transformation into the Lancaster — a repurposing he termed “an intelligent act of conservation that is too rare in Houston.” All three properties are still owned by DeGeorge’s decendants.

 

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It's really is a sad/angering day when this crap continues to happen in Houston. I hope the tide continues to change and our citizens respond to business' with their wallets. There is no power like the all mighty dollar. I will tell all my friends and family to take their money to any other hotel but the Lancaster and incourage other to do the same.

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I doubt that any elections will turn on a candidate's position regarding preservation laws around here in the near future in either direction. It would be interesting to see exactly how much the disinterested public cares about the issue and what argument they find persuasive. But then again, the disinterested public finds click bait and Kardashians persuasive, so whoever won that debate would likely have to win for the wrong reason.

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Because social media hasn't already shown its power to change status quo in the world? Did you think this sounded smart in your head before you posted it?

Dang, you guys were too slow with the fund raising.

 

Eff off, troll.

Edited by H-Town Man

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I doubt that any elections will turn on a candidate's position regarding preservation laws around here in the near future in either direction. It would be interesting to see exactly how much the disinterested public cares about the issue and what argument they find persuasive. But then again, the disinterested public finds click bait and Kardashians persuasive, so whoever won that debate would likely have to win for the wrong reason.

 

No, elections won't turn on it, but at the same time, coming out in favor of preservation isn't a bad way for a candidate to win the support of inner loop constituencies. This helped get Annise Parker move up the ranks into office, and the public was interested enough to drive the first serious preservation laws in Houston's history during her term, including solid protection for the whole Main Street/Market Square district (roughly everything from Milam to Fannin, north of Texas and south of the bayou). This cost some political capital as she admitted, but that was 5 years ago and the reserves are replenishing... now it is simply a matter of the planning department being able to give Protected Landmark designation to buildings outside of historic districts.

 

Edited by H-Town Man

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Because social media hasn't already shown its power to change status quo in the world? Did you think this sounded smart in your head before you posted it?

 

Eff off, troll.

 

I guess you have to see the show to understand the post. You're taking it too literally. 

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No, elections won't turn on it, but at the same time, coming out in favor of preservation isn't a bad way for a candidate to win the support of inner loop constituencies. This helped get Annise Parker move up the ranks into office, and the public was interested enough to drive the first serious preservation laws in Houston's history during her term, including solid protection for the whole Main Street/Market Square district (roughly everything from Milam to Fannin, north of Texas and south of the bayou). This cost some political capital as she admitted, but that was 5 years ago and the reserves are replenishing... now it is simply a matter of the planning department being able to give Protected Landmark designation to buildings outside of historic districts.

 

I gather that very few people find the particulars of city politics compelling beyond police, firemen and potholes. That seems to be the vast majority of what is presented consistently in local campaigns apart from the odd nebulous discussion around finances, and those never seem to drive any victories.  Local political action doesn't even make news anymore unless it involves racial or sexual issues.

 

Those that care and have time to raise funds broadly (or have a more direct incentive) will line up behind the scenes to fund people that will push their policy preferences where few will notice or care.  Campaigning on a platform of doing nothing makes it hard to win particularly motivated friends the way giving people what they want on someone else's dime does, be that a fat defense contract or the ability to admire particular masonry practices that were forced to be preserved between your luxury apartment that required TIRZ incentives to be built and the tax exempt symphony hall. Such is the shortcoming of democracy; I know of no better alternative. 

 

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out around Market Square.

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I gather that very few people find the particulars of city politics compelling beyond police, firemen and potholes. That seems to be the vast majority of what is presented consistently in local campaigns apart from the odd nebulous discussion around finances, and those never seem to drive any victories.  Local political action doesn't even make news anymore unless it involves racial or sexual issues.

 

Those that care and have time to raise funds broadly (or have a more direct incentive) will line up behind the scenes to fund people that will push their policy preferences where few will notice or care.  Campaigning on a platform of doing nothing makes it hard to win particularly motivated friends the way giving people what they want on someone else's dime does, be that a fat defense contract or the ability to admire particular masonry practices that were forced to be preserved between your luxury apartment that required TIRZ incentives to be built and the tax exempt symphony hall. Such is the shortcoming of democracy; I know of no better alternative. 

 

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out around Market Square.

 

You're equating awarding lucrative defense contracts with historic preservation and supporting the arts? 

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I gather that very few people find the particulars of city politics compelling beyond police, firemen and potholes. That seems to be the vast majority of what is presented consistently in local campaigns apart from the odd nebulous discussion around finances, and those never seem to drive any victories.  Local political action doesn't even make news anymore unless it involves racial or sexual issues.

 

Those that care and have time to raise funds broadly (or have a more direct incentive) will line up behind the scenes to fund people that will push their policy preferences where few will notice or care.  Campaigning on a platform of doing nothing makes it hard to win particularly motivated friends the way giving people what they want on someone else's dime does, be that a fat defense contract or the ability to admire particular masonry practices that were forced to be preserved between your luxury apartment that required TIRZ incentives to be built and the tax exempt symphony hall. Such is the shortcoming of democracy; I know of no better alternative. 

 

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out around Market Square.

 

So democracy is at the mercy of small, motivated special interest groups, and historic preservationists are one such group. But aren't the developers and property rights advocates like Barry Klein another such small group? One that has wielded tremendous local power for decades?

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So democracy is at the mercy of small, motivated special interest groups, and historic preservationists are one such group. But aren't the developers and property rights advocates like Barry Klein another such small group? One that has wielded tremendous local power for decades?

 

Democracy is not at the mercy of it, democracy enables it. Property values, business plans and tax collections are most certainly at the mercy of small motivated groups with a wide variety of motivations. I'll tend to vote more consistently with the ones that wish to restrict others' actions less.

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You're equating awarding lucrative defense contracts with historic preservation and supporting the arts? 

 

In as much as a few interested parties get what they want (profits or cheaper Blue Man Group tickets, in these examples) by navigating the obscure margins of politics rather than exchanging something of their own value, yes.

 

Historic preservation and arts that require government coercion to be viable seem as proportionally wasteful to me as the old $500 hammer of Defense Department lore.  Patrons of the arts, preservationists, and the recipient of the hammer contract are sure to disagree.

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In as much as a few interested parties get what they want (profits or cheaper Blue Man Group tickets, in these examples) by navigating the obscure margins of politics rather than exchanging something of their own value, yes.

 

Historic preservation and arts that require government coercion to be viable seem as proportionally wasteful to me as the old $500 hammer of Defense Department lore.  Patrons of the arts, preservationists, and the recipient of the hammer contract are sure to disagree.

 

The thought of using coercion to fund the arts gave me a slight chuckle. Give us funding or we'll make you watch "Starlight Express."

 

Government interference aside, this wouldn't be so frustrating if Houston didn't have such a long history of, well...destroying its history. Particularly in the interest of the banal. There's a reason Houston has such a hard time luring companies that aren't associated with Oil and Gas, or attracting the coveted creative class. We're seen as a characterless wasteland of freeways and strip malls. In recent years there has been a big push to improve the quality of life in Houston, but stuff like this feels like a step backwards.

 

While your philosophy of limiting government involvement in these areas and leaving it to the discretion of the land owners has merit, I don't want to live in the ultimate product it produces.  It's similar to the gun control issue. Many firmly oppose the regulation of firearms because it supposedly infringes on our constitutional rights. So in the interest of preserving our supposed freedoms, we live in a country where gun violence is rampant. Mission accomplished?

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The thought of using coercion to fund the arts gave me a slight chuckle. Give us funding or we'll make you watch "Starlight Express."

 

Government interference aside, this wouldn't be so frustrating if Houston didn't have such a long history of, well...destroying its history. Particularly in the interest of the banal. There's a reason Houston has such a hard time luring companies that aren't associated with Oil and Gas, or attracting the coveted creative class. We're seen as a characterless wasteland of freeways and strip malls. In recent years there has been a big push to improve the quality of life in Houston, but stuff like this feels like a step backwards.

 

While your philosophy of limiting government involvement in these areas and leaving it to the discretion of the land owners has merit, I don't want to live in the ultimate product it produces.  It's similar to the gun control issue. Many firmly oppose the regulation of firearms because it supposedly infringes on our constitutional rights. So in the interest of preserving our supposed freedoms, we live in a country where gun violence is rampant. Mission accomplished?

 

 

Hello Dolly, A Clockwork Orange style.

 

6199301227_57da650310.jpg

 

As I explained earlier, I'm all for different places trying different things and seeing what works and it's not up to me, I just have my preferences.  The tough part is quantifying what you gave up to get there, but there are new Bentleys and there are used Kias, I see Houston as a nice certified pre-owned Chevy. 

 

The current oil price bust should be a good indicator of our local economic diversification needs. There are a spectrum of "the ultimate products" out there, but presumably you do live in the one that doesn't codify (much) the preservation of old buildings for one reason or another over one that does.  Part of he reason it is, on net, in your interest to remain here could be the lack of restrictions that that lead to the "wasteland" perception.  If you live elsewhere, I'll applaud you for living by your principles and voting with your feet. Judging by the population growth around here, it's not that much of a consideration to many folks.

 

These two buildings had all of the character, history and charm that are supposed to be so valuable, but they sat empty as did many others like them until any other use could be justified. They might have been neat to look at, but they certainly weren't good to use as buildings.  How much longer would you have wanted an empty Texas Tower, derelict Montagu hotel, urine soaked and abandoned Ben Milam hotel, or empty West building to remain when other developments that are driving the revitalization of downtown were ready to go in their place?

 

Everything has a tradeoff, New Orleans proudly preserves its history, but due to a myriad of issues, it repels companies from every industry including oil and gas, unless they are just visiting for the party.  I don't think the answer to broad based success lies among those who particularly value old buildings, but I could be wrong.  Arranging aesthetics a particular way to attract talented people seems risky, but it plausibly could be net positive, I just don't personally think it would.

 

I'm not getting into 2nd amendment issues here.

Edited by Nate99
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Hello Dolly, A Clockwork Orange style.

 

6199301227_57da650310.jpg

 

As I explained earlier, I'm all for different places trying different things and seeing what works and it's not up to me, I just have my preferences.  The tough part is quantifying what you gave up to get there, but there are new Bentleys and there are used Kias, I see Houston as a nice certified pre-owned Chevy. 

 

The current oil price bust should be a good indicator of our local economic diversification needs. There are a spectrum of "the ultimate products" out there, but presumably you do live in the one that doesn't codify (much) the preservation of old buildings for one reason or another over one that does.  Part of he reason it is, on net, in your interest to remain here could be the lack of restrictions that that lead to the "wasteland" perception.  If you live elsewhere, I'll applaud you for living by your principles and voting with your feet. Judging by the population growth around here, it's not that much of a consideration to many folks.

 

These two buildings had all of the character, history and charm that are supposed to be so valuable, but they sat empty as did many others like them until any other use could be justified. They might have been neat to look at, but they certainly weren't good to use as buildings.  How much longer would you have wanted an empty Texas Tower, derelict Montagu hotel, urine soaked and abandoned Ben Milam hotel, or empty West building to remain when other developments that are driving the revitalization of downtown were ready to go in their place?

 

Everything has a tradeoff, New Orleans proudly preserves its history, but due to a myriad of issues, it repels companies from every industry including oil and gas, unless they are just visiting for the party.  I don't think the answer to broad based success lies among those who particularly value old buildings, but I could be wrong.  Arranging aesthetics a particular way to attract talented people seems risky, but it plausibly could be net positive, I just don't personally think it would.

 

I'm not getting into 2nd amendment issues here.

 

That's the face I make when I watch pretty much any musical. Those NEA folks can be persuasive.

 

In regards to letting empty buildings hold up other developments, what's so frustrating with this demolition is there is no other development. It's just a parking lot. That doesn't drive revitalization, quite the opposite. I know the Lancaster intends to expand on the site, but that could be years from now. And it's not unlikely that the economic downturn we're in the midst of makes that plan unfeasible.  If they manage to make good on this intention, I'll give them some credit. But otherwise we've been bequeathed a parking lot.

 

I moved to Houston in my 20s for work and found it to be a very unsettling place. It seemed to have no center, nothing to anchor it. My plan was to work a few years, gain some experience, and then move on. It was around this time that the downtown revitalization started and this forum was founded, which kept me abreast of all the exciting new projects, many of them involving restoration of a historic building. The city started to get a "vibe", for lack of a better word, that one would associate with more heralded cities. Houston will never be a New York or Chicago, but it can succeed on its own terms. Of course there are trade offs, but one would think that trying to defend historic preservation on an architecture site would be unnecessary. And yet here we are. 

 

Perhaps the argument here is these particular buildings weren't special enough to save, which could be a worthwhile argument. My next question would be where do you draw the line? Or is everything expendable in the name of broad based success? 

 

The 2nd amendment discussion is definitely a slippery slope. Perhaps someone could find a less explosive analogy that pits dogmatic adherence to political/economic doctrines seemingly against the greater good. Of course claiming to know what stands for the greater good is an insidious comment at best, but for me I would include preserving the history of our city for future generations. Others may find that misguided, but again to my point about this being an architecture forum. 

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Of course there are trade offs, but one would think that trying to defend historic preservation on an architecture site would be unnecessary. And yet here we are. 

 

Perhaps the argument here is these particular buildings weren't special enough to save, which could be a worthwhile argument. My next question would be where do you draw the line? Or is everything expendable in the name of broad based success?  

 

I'm among the odd men out in a forum like this, to be sure. I do think pretty much anything privately owned should be expendable.

 

Publicly owned stuff only exists due to the political process, so that's inherently dependent upon the public deciding its fate through political shenanigans.

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New Orleans does care about preservation because tourism is about all that is left. Business doesn't avoid New Orleans because it protects old architecture. It avoids it because it is in Louisiana; a place full of corruption, violence, and an uneducated populace. Also, it might not exist in the near future.

 

There are dozens of cities with strict building guidelines, strong historic preservation codes, and even design review boards that are thriving. 

 

Everything is a system of checks and balances. Houston works better when some freedoms are curtailed. That's why the healthiest neighborhoods inside the city limits have the strictest deed restrictions. That's no accident.

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New Orleans does care about preservation because tourism is about all that is left. Business doesn't avoid New Orleans because it protects old architecture. It avoids it because it is in Louisiana; a place full of corruption, violence, and an uneducated populace. Also, it might not exist in the near future.

 

There are dozens of cities with strict building guidelines, strong historic preservation codes, and even design review boards that are thriving. 

 

Everything is a system of checks and balances. Houston works better when some freedoms are curtailed. That's why the healthiest neighborhoods inside the city limits have the strictest deed restrictions. That's no accident.

 

 

My New Orleans point was more narrowly addressing the "creative class attraction" angle. They do that almost as well as any city in America and have historic preservation as a priority, but as I mentioned and you point out, they have a myriad of issues that the creative class' contribution can not overcome. 

 

The deed restrictions are in place when a property is built or bought, if you know that going in, I have no problem with that, you manage your investment with that in mind. One can work to get them changed if he thinks his plan to do so has some merit.   There are all manner of restrictions on everything, I don't confuse personal property rights with personal sovereignty, I just think they should have every right to knock these buildings down if they want to because it allows them and others in the same position the flexibility to maximize the value and create economic growth. I understand that a historic building is a tangible definite good to some people that should not be traded for speculative future growth. All else being equal, I like them too, but think the option to do with them as you wish without having to deal with a preservation board is more important. 

 

We can't know how any city would end up with more or less restrictions than they have as every situation has many interdependent issues affecting each other; one could go on for days with examples of how this or that restriction helped or hurt any particular place. That said, my bias will continue to be toward not restricting people that are not harming others and I don't think that tearing down an old building harms anyone.

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In an unpopular defense of demolishing these buildings, they are very out of scale of the rest of the block - the Alley Theatre is huge, the Lancaster and the garages are tall, and the building behind it is very much a skyscaper

 

That being said - a parking lot here will be like a missing tooth in a mouth - it will stand out and make the whole block look worse for it.  I hope that the Lancaster gets the money together to expand soon, or has to sell the block to a developer soon.  

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The Creative Class approach is espoused more by cities like Portland, San Francisco and Austin. I wouldn't say New Orleans' focus on historic preservation is specifically designed to attract the creative class, although it does seem to have that effect. 

 

There is a big quality of life push in many cities in the US right now, including Houston, that I think is largely intent on this. I would agree that the theory is a bit dubious, but it certainly has it's proponents. If you could find a way to promote this without having to put a lot of restrictions in place, that would be a win-win. 

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New Orleans does care about preservation because tourism is about all that is left. Business doesn't avoid New Orleans because it protects old architecture. It avoids it because it is in Louisiana; a place full of corruption, violence, and an uneducated populace. Also, it might not exist in the near future.

There are dozens of cities with strict building guidelines, strong historic preservation codes, and even design review boards that are thriving.

Everything is a system of checks and balances. Houston works better when some freedoms are curtailed. That's why the healthiest neighborhoods inside the city limits have the strictest deed restrictions. That's no accident.

Wait a second, Kinkaid. Are you sure business doesn't avoid New Orleans just because it preserves old architecture?

The fact is, government should never cater to any interest that involves less than 100% citizen support. The real wrong turn was the space program, imho. The national parks are another thing that just gets under my skin. Both have a clear connection to our current economic stagnation...

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These two buildings had all of the character, history and charm that are supposed to be so valuable, but they sat empty as did many others like them until any other use could be justified. They might have been neat to look at, but they certainly weren't good to use as buildings. How much longer would you have wanted an empty Texas Tower, derelict Montagu hotel, urine soaked and abandoned Ben Milam hotel, or empty West building to remain when other developments that are driving the revitalization of downtown were ready to go in their place?

I get tired of arguing with you, but need to call you out on bs. They did not "sit empty." Read one of the articles that have been posted on here. 509 housed the Longhorn Cafe for 30 years until 2011 iirc, and 517 had an upscale restaurant for about 25 years until 2003. After that it became hotel storage, probably the owner's choice to stop marketing it. If they could support retail tenants through the 80's and 90's, they surely could in a few years when the downtown population doubles.

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"The hotel expansion has long been considered, he said, but the recent parking issue accelerated the decision to move forward."

 

The Lancaster is responsible for the deferred maintenance, and probably on purpose since they have been eyeing the buildings' footprints for parking for a while. It doesn't even seem sustainable - "parking for 50 cars?" That may help immediately, but they're going to have to find more anyway for a so-called expansion..

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I think their expansion plans include multilevel parking, a ballroom, and almost doubling the amount of rooms. It seems like a lot for the amount of space that will be there, but then again I'm no expert and not sure how big the tract left behind will be. But I agree that I'm sure they have been planning to tear these down for a long time which is why they are currently vacant and have not leased them back out once the previous tenants left. The deferred maintenance, while I'm sure there is some, seems more of an excuse to tear them down because they knew there would be backlash from the public and HAIFers ;).

 

While I'm still pretty upset these buildings were torn down, they won't be coming back. I just hope if they indeed plan to expand the hotel, hopefully it is sooner rather than later and AT LEAST make the expansion look "historic" and similar to the hotel....

 

Thankfully we have many historic buildings in downtown that have been renovated or are currently being turned into apartments and hotels.

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I get tired of arguing with you, but need to call you out on bs. They did not "sit empty." Read one of the articles that have been posted on here. 509 housed the Longhorn Cafe for 30 years until 2011 iirc, and 517 had an upscale restaurant for about 25 years until 2003. After that it became hotel storage, probably the owner's choice to stop marketing it. If they could support retail tenants through the 80's and 90's, they surely could in a few years when the downtown population doubles.

 

They marketed 509 to BB's who moved in after Longhorn failed. When BB's left, they weren't replaced, I'm not sure how long 509 sat without a use other than storage, but neither were being utilized for the last 3-4 years. That's close enough to "sit empty" for me to feel ok about that characterization, but I guess you have a different time period in mind (something in excess of a CBD property being used as storage for 12 years) before a lack of usefulness can be proven out. You can think of it as "bs" or however you like, and your "call out" will probably reinforce your opinion of my point of view and those that agree with you.  Suffice it to say, I don't find it persuasive, nor your claim of being tired of arguing your position against mine. We value things differently, and we're both rather proud of our reasoning behind that. That's not going to change here.  

 

If they chose to stop marketing them for lease, which should be easily enough to tell for someone in the business, why delay the teardown until now?  I'm guessing they were weighing options perhaps waiting a bit for a market to come around, but they decided to go for a parking lot now.  Could be a bad call, it's theirs to make.  

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My New Orleans point was more narrowly addressing the "creative class attraction" angle. They do that almost as well as any city in America and have historic preservation as a priority, but as I mentioned and you point out, they have a myriad of issues that the creative class' contribution can not overcome. 

 

The deed restrictions are in place when a property is built or bought, if you know that going in, I have no problem with that, you manage your investment with that in mind. One can work to get them changed if he thinks his plan to do so has some merit.   There are all manner of restrictions on everything, I don't confuse personal property rights with personal sovereignty, I just think they should have every right to knock these buildings down if they want to because it allows them and others in the same position the flexibility to maximize the value and create economic growth. I understand that a historic building is a tangible definite good to some people that should not be traded for speculative future growth. All else being equal, I like them too, but think the option to do with them as you wish without having to deal with a preservation board is more important. 

 

We can't know how any city would end up with more or less restrictions than they have as every situation has many interdependent issues affecting each other; one could go on for days with examples of how this or that restriction helped or hurt any particular place. That said, my bias will continue to be toward not restricting people that are not harming others and I don't think that tearing down an old building harms anyone.

 

Agree, and at this point, what we can hope for is that other entities around the city look to the lancaster and say "wow, they destroyed historic buildings for a parking lot, after they did that, their profits went down, we can presume it was because people actually appreciate this preservation thing, so we will preserve the buildings we have!"

 

that's how this should work. reality is though, there are probably enough people who don't care about preservation enough to not be bothered by what these people did with the buildings they owned, as a matter of fact, their valet service is 15 seconds faster than it was last time they stayed, so they'll rate it higher.

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They marketed 509 to BB's who moved in after Longhorn failed. When BB's left, they weren't replaced, I'm not sure how long 509 sat without a use other than storage, but neither were being utilized for the last 3-4 years. That's close enough to "sit empty" for me to feel ok about that characterization, but I guess you have a different time period in mind (something in excess of a CBD property being used as storage for 12 years) before a lack of usefulness can be proven out. You can think of it as "bs" or however you like, and your "call out" will probably reinforce your opinion of my point of view and those that agree with you.  Suffice it to say, I don't find it persuasive, nor your claim of being tired of arguing your position against mine. We value things differently, and we're both rather proud of our reasoning behind that. That's not going to change here.  

 

If they chose to stop marketing them for lease, which should be easily enough to tell for someone in the business, why delay the teardown until now?  I'm guessing they were weighing options perhaps waiting a bit for a market to come around, but they decided to go for a parking lot now.  Could be a bad call, it's theirs to make.  

 

So they were leased through the 80's, 90's, and 00's, but they sat vacant 3-4 years as the owner prepared to demolish them. And on that you base your assertion that they were unviable buildings. Also, Costar shows an office lease for 509 signed in Oct. 2011, so it doesn't even look like it sat vacant for 3-4 years. 

 

It is interesting to know that you're so proud of your reasoning. I really just cared about the buildings.

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So they were leased through the 80's, 90's, and 00's, but they sat vacant 3-4 years as the owner prepared to demolish them. And on that you base your assertion that they were unviable buildings. Also, Costar shows an office lease for 509 signed in Oct. 2011, so it doesn't even look like it sat vacant for 3-4 years. 

 

It is interesting to know that you're so proud of your reasoning. I really just cared about the buildings.

 

That's why you "called me out" for "bs", your care for the buildings and weariness over arguing with me?  I don't doubt that you care about them, but I like challenging the basis of what I believe through discussions like this, it seemed like you were doing the same.  Perhaps we can agree that we've said our respective pieces for internet posterity to judge and leave it at that.

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That's why you "called me out" for "bs", your care for the buildings and weariness over arguing with me?  I don't doubt that you care about them, but I like challenging the basis of what I believe through discussions like this, it seemed like you were doing the same.  Perhaps we can agree that we've said our respective pieces for internet posterity to judge and leave it at that.

 

No, I really was weary of the argument which is why I ignored your posts for two weeks, but saying that they had "stood empty" and hence deserved to go when that was not the case drew me back in. The dust was clearing from their demolition, you could have eased up on the provocative remarks.

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That's why you "called me out" for "bs", your care for the buildings and weariness over arguing with me?  I don't doubt that you care about them, but I like challenging the basis of what I believe through discussions like this, it seemed like you were doing the same.  Perhaps we can agree that we've said our respective pieces for internet posterity to judge and leave it at that.

 

you spelled posterior incorrectly.  :lol:

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No, I really was weary of the argument which is why I ignored your posts for two weeks, but saying that they had "stood empty" and hence deserved to go when that was not the case drew me back in. The dust was clearing from their demolition, you could have eased up on the provocative remarks.

 

I didn't post for two weeks either, there was nothing for you to ignore.  If lacking a tenant for multiple years isn't close enough to "standing empty" for you to refrain from calling bs, I'll concede that my argument is not going to meet your standards. I also have a poor handle on why that would be provocative when it sounds like a simple fact to me.

 

you spelled posterior incorrectly.  :lol:

 

You ain't kidding.

Edited by Nate99
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I didn't post for two weeks either, there was nothing for you to ignore.  If lacking a tenant for multiple years isn't close enough to "standing empty" for you to refrain from calling bs, I'll concede that my argument is not going to meet your standards. I also have a poor handle on why that would be provocative when it sounds like a simple fact to me.

 

 

You ain't kidding.

 

Yes Nate, the "standing empty" argument is bs. I think you need to have the last word, so I'll go ahead and give it to you. But if you don't like arguing, don't go around rubbing salt into the wounds of preservationists when the piles of rubble are fresh.

Edited by H-Town Man

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These two buildings had all of the character, history and charm that are supposed to be so valuable, but they sat empty as did many others like them until any other use could be justified. They might have been neat to look at, but they certainly weren't good to use as buildings.  How much longer would you have wanted an empty Texas Tower, derelict Montagu hotel, urine soaked and abandoned Ben Milam hotel, or empty West building to remain when other developments that are driving the revitalization of downtown were ready to go in their place?

 

 

And I'll just reiterate - if you don't know why this would be provocative, in light of the fact that the buildings had just been torn down, then I think that's bs and have no respect for you. You know very well that this was provocative, and any arguments that it wasn't are more bs from your lips.

 

You can finish.

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Yes Nate, the "standing empty" argument is bs. I think you need to have the last word, so I'll go ahead and give it to you. But if you don't like arguing, don't go around rubbing salt into the wounds of preservationists when the piles of rubble are fresh.

 

 

And I'll just reiterate - if you don't know why this would be provocative, in light of the fact that the buildings had just been torn down, then I think that's bs and have no respect for you. You know very well that this was provocative, and any arguments that it wasn't are more bs from your lips.

 

You can finish.

 

You have a PM

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Yes Nate, the "standing empty" argument is bs. I think you need to have the last word, so I'll go ahead and give it to you. But if you don't like arguing, don't go around rubbing salt into the wounds of preservationists when the piles of rubble are fresh.

"You need to have the last word"

-he says, hoping to have the last word.

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Aw man you're not gonna post their response? Lame, they have a point, but the real issue here are sub-500 employee companies with social media accounts. Who is going to follow them?

"Oh man, just got home from my 9-5 job at the Oil Manufacturing plant, can't wait to check what wacky updates the company's posted since I left! LOL!"

It just goes to show middle-aged capitalism does not understand social media. At least they have a Twitter page and not just a Facebook account.

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Aw man you're not gonna post their response? Lame, they have a point, but the real issue here are sub-500 employee companies with social media accounts. Who is going to follow them?

"Oh man, just got home from my 9-5 job at the Oil Manufacturing plant, can't wait to check what wacky updates the company's posted since I left! LOL!"

It just goes to show middle-aged capitalism does not understand social media. At least they have a Twitter page and not just a Facebook account.

Yeah I would be nice to see the whole conversation.

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Why do I get the feeling the same people who are on the "save the buildings at any expense" side are also the "densify the Inner Loop" side?

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Why do I get the feeling the same people who are on the "save the buildings at any expense" side are also the "densify the Inner Loop" side?

Alright Iron, I'll bite. What's your point? Edited by Montrose1100
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Yeah I would be nice to see the whole conversation.

 

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They love to debate Twitter etiquette and best practices. Not so much do they want to discuss tearing down 100 year old buildings to build parking lots.

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Alright Iron, I'll bite. What's your point?

Because in general, density and historic preservation don't go hand in hand. I'm sure there are many who would like to see the low-rise mish-mash of old houses, gas stations, restaurants, and one-story buildings in Midtown go away in favor of trendy mid-rise apartments, but "historic preservation" would dictate otherwise and force one or two story buildings to stay where they are as land values skyrocket and the only affordable housing (that's not government subsidized, of course) is on the fringe parts of the sprawl. Start running out of realistic space, and you get a situation like the entire Bay Area.

 

I'm not saying that demolishing these buildings is going to make a difference in land value or whatever or that I expect you to start shedding tears for every S/F house torn down in the Inner Loop, but there are two sides of this argument and it needs to be balanced carefully to avoid looking like a hypocrite.

 

As for those crying "Structural integrity is BS", according to HCAD, the buildings (well, 509 Louisiana at least) was built in 1900, but looking at some of the HCAD results.....that at least looks like a candidate for tear-down. (source)

 

Building Data

 

Element                              Details

Cooling Type                      Central / Forced

Construction Type             Wood / Steel Joist

Functional Utility                 Poor

Heating Type                    Hot Air

Partition Type                     Normal

Physical Condition              Poor

Plumbing Type                  Adequate

Sprinkler Type                  None

Exterior Wall                     Brick / Stone

Economic Obsolescence Very Poor

 

Edited by IronTiger

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Because in general, density and historic preservation don't go hand in hand. I'm sure there are many who would like to see the low-rise mish-mash of old houses, gas stations, restaurants, and one-story buildings in Midtown go away in favor of trendy mid-rise apartments, but "historic preservation" would dictate otherwise and force one or two story buildings to stay where they are as land values skyrocket and the only affordable housing (that's not government subsidized, of course) is on the fringe parts of the sprawl. Start running out of realistic space, and you get a situation like the entire Bay Area.

 

I'm not saying that demolishing these buildings is going to make a difference in land value or whatever or that I expect you to start shedding tears for every S/F house torn down in the Inner Loop, but there are two sides of this argument and it needs to be balanced carefully to avoid looking like a hypocrite.

 

As for those crying "Structural integrity is BS", according to HCAD, the buildings (well, 509 Louisiana at least) was built in 1900, but looking at some of the HCAD results.....that at least looks like a candidate for tear-down. (source)

 

Building Data

 

Element                              Details

Cooling Type                      Central / Forced

Construction Type             Wood / Steel Joist

Functional Utility                 Poor

Heating Type                    Hot Air

Partition Type                     Normal

Physical Condition              Poor

Plumbing Type                  Adequate

Sprinkler Type                  None

Exterior Wall                     Brick / Stone

Economic Obsolescence Very Poor

 

I understand your wanting balance in the argument. And I agree that, in an extreme scenario, preserving everything would be an obstacle to increased density.

 

However, I don't think that's the case here. When you are talking about century-old commercial buildings, there are only a few dozen in the whole 628 square mile landscape of Houston. Preserving all of them would not be an obstacle to densification in downtown or any other neighborhood.

 

Also, I think the conversation is pretty balanced already. The past few years have seen several historic teardowns downtown: the Ross Sterling building where 609 Main is going up, the old Foley's, the Hogan-Allnoch building, the 1870 Nicholas Clayton-designed building at Incarnate Word, the Ben Milam Hotel, and the Houston Club building. While all of them elicited grumbles here and there, the only two that brought a really vociferous outcry on this forum were 509-517 Louisiana and the Nicholas Clayton building. Both cases seemed exceptionally wasteful and short-sighted. For the rest of the cases, I think most people accept the arguments of functional obsolescence, bad structural condition, etc.

 

Finally, I would not trust a county assessor's report. These conclusions could be the result of arguments by the property owner to get their taxes down. And assessors are not immune to the same cultural attitudes that affect the rest of Houston's population, viz. the attitude that anything old must be functionally obsolete and in poor condition. I'd be interested to see how a Houston assessor would have graded Faneuil Hall Marketplace before it was turned into a shopping center worth nine figures.

 

 

 

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