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Houston Press - Downtown Block 352

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44 minutes ago, corbs315 said:

1500 McGowen? Davis Holdings filed a permit for alterations on the 4th.

 

Hmm... HP is listed at 1621 Milam St. 

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22 hours ago, Sanjorade said:

 

Hmm... HP is listed at 1621 Milam St. 

Does the Pres even have a building since it went all web based? Former building maybe.

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This is being razed to be a surface parking lot. Apparently chevron got tired of being a landlord for a class C building. More headache than it was worth. 

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19 hours ago, HNathoo said:

This is being razed to be a surface parking lot. Apparently chevron got tired of being a landlord for a class C building. More headache than it was worth. 

 

Are you being serious?

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5 hours ago, Avossos said:

 

Are you being serious?

Afraid so. I imagine eventually chevron will build on this site, just not anytime soon. 

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2 hours ago, HNathoo said:

Not that I can share on a public forum. 

 

This really hurts. I feel angry and frustrated. This building can’t be replaced

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15 hours ago, Avossos said:

 

This really hurts. I feel angry and frustrated. This building can’t be replaced

Sure it can. With another building that meets the owner's requirements. Or, a vacant lot with lower costs and reduced liabilities.

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People can be sad when buildings they don't own are torn down. It's not like he's advocating for seizing it and turning it over to the proletariat. Calm down Ross.

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So glad people are not quoting Ross. Ignore is a great feature. He's been yelling about people holding opinions on an architectural forum for years. Troll.

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2 hours ago, KinkaidAlum said:

So glad people are not quoting Ross. Ignore is a great feature. He's been yelling about people holding opinions on an architectural forum for years. Troll.

 

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2 hours ago, KinkaidAlum said:

So glad people are not quoting Ross. Ignore is a great feature. He's been yelling about people holding opinions on an architectural forum for years. Troll.

I don't think I've ever yelled, I merely point out that unless you own the building in question, you have no real interest in what happens to it. For anyone to be devastated that 1621 Milam might be torn down is irrational behavior. It's an old building on a lot worth $15 million. Anyone who thinks it's not going to be torn down or changed significantly is not living in reality. 

 

And, KinkaidAlum, I am no more a troll than you are. I can be blunt, but that's not trolling. You have an opinion, i have an opinion. Mine is more valid than yours, since it's based in reality and not dreams(I guess that's an opinion as well).

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3 hours ago, KinkaidAlum said:

So glad people are not quoting Ross. Ignore is a great feature. He's been yelling about people holding opinions on an architectural forum for years. Troll.

 

I don't have you on ignore, as I should, because it's kind of childish, especially when you bring it up. You are very sensitive about certain things, and it shows in your reactive posts. Lighten up, Francis.

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Ross you have to admit That comments such as the building can be replaced with empty lot adds little (more like nothing) to an Architecture forum. The "it's up to the owner" argument is also rather lacking.

 

It's not like we are in court trying to decide what to do with the lot and you bring up it's up to the owner. We know that. But I'm discussing architecture in an Architecture site saying it is up to the owner adds nothing. Please don't use it anymore. It adds nothing that we don't already know.

 

Avossos stated that he likes this building and ti him it can't be replaced. I like the building also and would be sad to see it torn down. My opinion had no bearing on whether it goes out stays, but it does add to the discussion of styles of architecture that people like. At least you could say that you absolutely detest the building. That would further the discussion more than simply stating it's not our land. 

 

Architecture students are often given projects where they are assigned plots in various cities and asked to come up with a design. Would your best argument to the professor be that since it is not your land you cannot comment on what would look nice there? 

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On 9/10/2018 at 2:24 PM, Ross said:

Sure it can. With another building that meets the owner's requirements. Or, a vacant lot with lower costs and reduced liabilities.

 

You must be a blast at parties. 

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Very well put HoustonIsHome. Ross in case you forgot this forum cherishes its cities history. To you it's just a plot of land none of us own. And to many of us it's a part of why we love this city so much. So if things are just that black and white to you then why the hell are you in a forum like this? 

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On ‎9‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 9:25 PM, Ross said:

I don't think I've ever yelled, I merely point out that unless you own the building in question, you have no real interest in what happens to it. For anyone to be devastated that 1621 Milam might be torn down is irrational behavior. It's an old building on a lot worth $15 million. Anyone who thinks it's not going to be torn down or changed significantly is not living in reality. 

 

And, KinkaidAlum, I am no more a troll than you are. I can be blunt, but that's not trolling. You have an opinion, i have an opinion. Mine is more valid than yours, since it's based in reality and not dreams(I guess that's an opinion as well).

 

Interesting that some view disagreement as an attack. Pointing out the trade offs of preservationists is not yelling. The impulse to enlist government regulations to have the world underwrite your aesthetic preferences, or directing specific insults at property owners that choose not to do so at their own private expense seems misguided to some of us and we occasionally point it out.  If expressing such opinions has no place in an architecture forum, whoever controls this place is free to ban users. It should go without saying that people are free to disagree with opinions, but to do so on the internet always seems to run straight to insults and moralizing, which is a shame.   Despite the apparent initial intentions for the site, there's very little architecture discussion here and a lot around general development.  That's why those of us that were exposed to more economics professors than architecture professors have showed up over the years. 

 

In between these types of threads, there is a good discussion of how things are changing here and some of us that don't value old buildings all that much still find that content very interesting. Old structures are not the entirety of history, and they impose real incremental costs on the people that must use or maintain them if they are not allowed to pursue other alternatives as they wish. Sometimes it ends up being ugly, other times it ends up allowing another thousand people to support their families. 

 

Or, to put it another way...

 

This city cherishes fewer restrictions on the use of private property. It's part of why this city has grown at such a furious pace. If preservation of old buildings is that important to them then why are they in a city like this? 

 

Edited by Nate99

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Ok, can we at least agree that "if you don't like it, leave" is an unacceptable statement? Everybody has multiple priorities, multiple things they care about. It is possible to love a place while also recognizing its flaws. It's possible to love a place while also wanting to improve it. Criticizing people for having an opinion that's different from yours makes people defensive, and it makes it much harder to have a productive conversation. 

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10 hours ago, Nate99 said:

 

This city cherishes fewer restrictions on the use of private property. It's part of why this city has grown at such a furious pace. If preservation of old buildings is that important to them then why are they in a city like this? 

 

 

Because it's home for some of us. It's where we're from. That's probably not a concept covered in economics class.

 

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There has to be degrees to the argument that you do what you want with a building you own.  On one end you can have somebody buy the land the Coliseum is on and tear it down for a coffee shop.  On the other end you have people clamoring to save an insignificant eyesore in a great location simply because it’s old.  This is an architecture board so a great place to discuss those degrees.

 

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14 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

 

Because it's home for some of us. It's where we're from. That's probably not a concept covered in economics class.

 

 

We all pick our tradeoffs, whether or not we acknowledge them.

Edited by Nate99

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I guess I can see both sides of the preservation argument for this particular building; I am always reluctant to see any Beaux Arts or Art Deco building go, we've lost so many and have so few left. But is this a particularly good or significant example? Mmmm....it's got a nicely ornamented original facade along two walls, and that's about it, it looks like the rest of it was recently repainted trompe l'oeil to look older along the rest of it. It looks like when it was built, it was a cheaply constructed building meant to be a warehouse or light industrial. It's only three stories, so not an efficient use of space in 21st Century high-density downtown Houston. And who knows what it's structural and mechanical condition is like inside. I wish it didn't have to go, but probably makes sense that it does.

 

However, I find the argument "if you don't own a building, you don't have an interest what happens to it" to fall flat, especially on an architectural forum. If that were the case, we wouldn';t designate certain structures landmarks, we wouldn't designate historic districts, we wouldn't have Chapter 33, Article VII of the COH ordinances that protects such properties from their current owners doing whatever they want with them, etc. I, like many on this board, am a native Houstonian, and I've seen a lot of our history and best architecture lost. Preservation of old buildings (where it makes sense to) is important to me, despite living in a city that "cherishes" fewer restrictions on the use of private property, why do I live here (to answer Nate99's question)? Because I was born here, because it's where my family is, and because I love the city I have known all my life. I don't want to see all the places that have been part of what I have loved about this city in my 42 years demolished, often by developers from elsewhere who don't have the longterm stake in this city I have, and so I think pushing for greater protection of historic structures, even the ones I don't own, is  a completely legitimate and worthwhile motive.

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41 minutes ago, Reefmonkey said:

However, I find the argument "if you don't own a building, you don't have an interest what happens to it" to fall flat, especially on an architectural forum. If that were the case, we wouldn';t designate certain structures landmarks, we wouldn't designate historic districts, we wouldn't have Chapter 33, Article VII of the COH ordinances that protects such properties from their current owners doing whatever they want with them, etc. I, like many on this board, am a native Houstonian, and I've seen a lot of our history and best architecture lost. Preservation of old buildings (where it makes sense to) is important to me, despite living in a city that "cherishes" fewer restrictions on the use of private property, why do I live here (to answer Nate99's question)? Because I was born here, because it's where my family is, and because I love the city I have known all my life. I don't want to see all the places that have been part of what I have loved about this city in my 42 years demolished, often by developers from elsewhere who don't have the longterm stake in this city I have, and so I think pushing for greater protection of historic structures, even the ones I don't own, is  a completely legitimate and worthwhile motive.

 

Very well said.

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Awesome. Icing on the cake to the great replacement Chevron added to the old YMCA site. 

 

There's a market out there for old buildings. I know because that is my business. I'm currently getting $130,000 over asking for one of my most recent renovations. Took less than 48 hours on the market to get 3 full-priced offers causing a bidding war. Meanwhile, spec homes in the area aren't moving. Also, there's a historic designation on the house but that didn't discourage anyone. In fact, it brought them in. 

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2 minutes ago, KinkaidAlum said:

Awesome. Icing on the cake to the great replacement Chevron added to the old YMCA site. 

 

There's a market out there for old buildings. I know because that is my business. I'm currently getting $130,000 over asking for one of my most recent renovations. Took less than 48 hours on the market to get 3 full-priced offers causing a bidding war. Meanwhile, spec homes in the area aren't moving. Also, there's a historic designation on the house but that didn't discourage anyone. In fact, it brought them in. 

 

completely agree. This could have very easily become lofts. I imagine people would have enjoyed living in them. Why would they not just sell the property? We have such a shortage of historic buildings on that side of downtown. I am so upset by this. I rather them just let it sit and rot.

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2 hours ago, KinkaidAlum said:

Awesome. Icing on the cake to the great replacement Chevron added to the old YMCA site. 

 

There's a market out there for old buildings. I know because that is my business. I'm currently getting $130,000 over asking for one of my most recent renovations. Took less than 48 hours on the market to get 3 full-priced offers causing a bidding war. Meanwhile, spec homes in the area aren't moving. Also, there's a historic designation on the house but that didn't discourage anyone. In fact, it brought them in. 

 

Every property is going to be unique, not sure why there wasn't a buyer on this one that wanted it more than Chevron would for (presumably) future downtown campus speculation/optionality, but if a bidding war started, I bet Chevron would have won in any case.  If what you see for your properties becomes a trend, I would guess there is a tipping point that once crossed ends up keeping the older stuff safe from being demolished, that is, there are enough people that want the few remaining older buildings that the scarcity holds the value up. 

 

There are a few similar era buildings over closer to the courthouses (I'm thinking along Prairie) that look like they would be candidates for redevelopment.   

 

4 hours ago, Reefmonkey said:

 

 

However, I find the argument "if you don't own a building, you don't have an interest what happens to it" to fall flat, especially on an architectural forum. If that were the case, we wouldn';t designate certain structures landmarks, we wouldn't designate historic districts, we wouldn't have Chapter 33, Article VII of the COH ordinances that protects such properties from their current owners doing whatever they want with them, etc. I, like many on this board, am a native Houstonian, and I've seen a lot of our history and best architecture lost. Preservation of old buildings (where it makes sense to) is important to me, despite living in a city that "cherishes" fewer restrictions on the use of private property, why do I live here (to answer Nate99's question)? Because I was born here, because it's where my family is, and because I love the city I have known all my life. I don't want to see all the places that have been part of what I have loved about this city in my 42 years demolished, often by developers from elsewhere who don't have the longterm stake in this city I have, and so I think pushing for greater protection of historic structures, even the ones I don't own, is  a completely legitimate and worthwhile motive.

 

My question was the inverse of the "why are you on this forum" question asked by another immediately above my post.  It's not the best question, but I mimicked the syntax for an effect that was missed, but I should have seen that coming.  I meant to mock people talking past each other. The emotional reaction to the loss of something in the background of your life is not something I identify with much. I didn't think it was necessarily unreasonable to ask if people might be happier somewhere else where this doesn't happen as frequently, and the actual history was more compelling than a former Pontiac showroom.  But I'm on record here for being ok with tearing down Grand Central Station, so I know I am an outlier.

 

Every position has a tradeoff, the preservation "this is my home that I cherish" argument is asking someone else to pay for your aesthetic enjoyment.  The only honest response I hear to this fact is "but it's worth it", which is easy to say from the perspective that doesn't have a significant amount of money tied up in a particular property. The available remedy is for preservationists to buy the property themselves and do what Kinkaid is doing to good result, and I wish him and others luck. Losing the variety of older buildings is unfortunate, and I like the look of them myself, but not nearly enough to insult the owners on the internet or push for legal restrictions on what they can do. 

 

I will stipulate that it is possible that, on net, a more preservationist approach could lead to a more valuable city, but we haven't yet needed it in Houston over my lifetime to provide a productive home for several million new residents that wouldn't otherwise have had as good of a choice. I hold the lack of restrictions on personal property to be a more legitimate and worthwhile motive than continuing to see the structures that you have seen in the past, but it's all a matter of what you value more and within the political process to manage as you point out. 

 

We all have an interest in everything we observe. Yours is a legitimate position to take, and I disagree with it.  

Edited by Nate99

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1 hour ago, Nate99 said:

Every position has a tradeoff, the preservation "this is my home that I cherish" argument is asking someone else to pay for your aesthetic enjoyment.  The only honest response I hear to this fact is "but it's worth it", which is easy to say from the perspective that doesn't have a significant amount of money tied up in a particular property.

I think I can probably do a little better than "but it's worth it." For me, an environmental scientist who works in the solid waste management field, the fact that 25% of all waste going to landfills is construction and demolition waste, and reusing structures instead of tearing them down reduces this.  If you're unpersuaded by the aesthetic and intrinsic benefits of historic preservation, then perhaps economic benefits might sway you. A study of 9 Texas cities, including Houston, found that designation of a neighborhood as a historic district increases home values by between 5 and 20% (but that's of course only if enough houses are preserved to retain the historic character).  In the last 20 years, 22 states have commissioned studies on the economic benefits of historic preservation. A meta analysis of these studies found overwhelmingly consistent results indicating a significant economic benefit to historic preservation. The three most common and significant areas were job creation, property value stabilization and growth, and cultural tourism.

 

 I don't know how old you are or how long you've lived in Houston, so I don't know how much you remember of the early days of the downtown revitalization in the 90s, but if you do remember it, you'll remember where it started. It didn't start with building brand new buildings, or even using late 20th Century buildings, it started with restoring the historic Rice Hotel, and with Market Square, bars and restaurants like Cabo's and the State Bar, et al moving into late 19th and early 20th Century buildings. There was a reason for that. The historic character of the area gave it a feel of being a destination, a place where people who worked downtown wanted to stay and get drinks after work, where people who didn't work downtown wanted to come into on Friday and Saturday nights, where people wanted to live. The revitalization continued down the streets that had the most historic buildings, down Travis and Main, and overwhelmingly the new restaurants and bars moved into those historic buildings, being in those buildings was a big part of the draw, what kept people dealing with the hassle of downtown parking, etc. when they could have just stayed on the Richmond Strip, etc. The revitalization of downtown was very much dependent on the character that historic buildings could provide, the sense of destination that they could use to create a draw. That kind of sense of destination is a major draw for increasing convention and other special event draw to Houston, which brings economic benefit and tax revenue. We would likely have not gotten the Superbowl in 2004 without the downtown revitalization, which was dependent on using preserved historic properties.

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Was there an incentive paid for the early downtown revitalization efforts that you reference?  I know that there is some kind of Main Street district/preservation zone, but to the extent that folks find historical stuff worth the cost, I have no problem whatsoever with it and am glad to see it work. If we sent the city deeper in to debt to get people off of Richmond (or even to get the Super Bowl), that's where I have a problem.  Entertainment districts seem to ebb and flow. Richmond, downtown, midtown, Washington, etc., seem to have run the course, but I could not tell you if there were any organized effort behind incentivizing it. I thought it was just people doing good work putting up successful businesses driving things organically until something else of interest popped up and the crowd changed. 

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2 hours ago, Nate99 said:

I didn't think it was necessarily unreasonable to ask if people might be happier somewhere else where this doesn't happen as frequently

I forgot to answer this; for those of us who are native houstonians, Houston’s history and heritage is our heritage, and thus far more meaningful to us than moving to another city just because it better preserves a heritage we have no connection to. It’s worth working towards, and inroads have been made as at least some developers have come to appreciate that historic preservation creates better quality of life, which does have market benefits. 

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17 minutes ago, Nate99 said:

Was there an incentive paid for the early downtown revitalization efforts that you reference?  I know that there is some kind of Main Street district/preservation zone, but to the extent that folks find historical stuff worth the cost, I have no problem whatsoever with it and am glad to see it work. If we sent the city deeper in to debt to get people off of Richmond (or even to get the Super Bowl), that's where I have a problem.  Entertainment districts seem to ebb and flow. Richmond, downtown, midtown, Washington, etc., seem to have run the course, but I could not tell you if there were any organized effort behind incentivizing it. I thought it was just people doing good work putting up successful businesses driving things organically until something else of interest popped up and the crowd changed. 

Not an incentive paid out from the city’s budget, but a TIRZ was set up to facilitate redevelopment. 

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Just now, Reefmonkey said:

I forgot to answer this; for those of us who are native houstonians, Houston’s history and heritage is our heritage, and thus far more meaningful to us than moving to another city just because it better preserves a heritage we have no connection to. It’s worth working towards, and inroads have been made as at least some developers have come to appreciate that historic preservation creates better quality of life, which does have market benefits. 

 

Fair enough, we all want to make things better, whatever better is for us. I just bristle at political power being used on something that accomplishes a nebulous benefit at specific cost, but if I'm being honest, the mixture of local government and real estate tends to be nasty however you slice it.  That and my heritage in this town, while three generations deep, isn't anything that couldn't have occurred with other buildings standing in the background. 

 

To your earlier point, historic home neighborhoods have a more compelling case to me, but I don't think I would choose one myself.  It's more of a peculiar deed restriction at that point, which undoubtedly can increase property value. Plenty of weirder examples of what people can, can't and must do in their neighborhoods than to maintain the existing style.

 

In places like downtown, there are a fair amount of older buildings sitting empty or inhabited by low-rent businesses long-term. To me that indicates that there is not that hard of a pull for that type of market, though the number of conversions and rehabilitations is a good sign. Whether it is worth however much was paid in incentives would be dependent entirely on the economists' assumptions, so I take that with a grain of salt. There are also a few that are known to have serious structural/mechanical issues that make rehabilitation a long shot, which might have been the case here, Chevron said it was past it's useful life, but maybe that just means to them.  

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I’m on your side when it comes to this particular building. Apart from buildings of special historic or architectural significance, preservation really only makes sense when you have a whole district with a significant amount of older buildings. Preserving an isolated building surrounded by modern buildings just because it’s old doesn’t make sense, and that describes this building.

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On 9/14/2018 at 4:45 PM, Reefmonkey said:

I’m on your side when it comes to this particular building. Apart from buildings of special historic or architectural significance, preservation really only makes sense when you have a whole district with a significant amount of older buildings. Preserving an isolated building surrounded by modern buildings just because it’s old doesn’t make sense, and that describes this building.

 

I disagree. The handful of historic buildings in Midtown, scattered and far-flung as they are, add a seasoning to the sea of modern midrises. You see one as you walk your dog and it gives you some anchor, some sense that there is a history and a depth to the place. If the midrises and highrises now filling southeast and south central downtown ever make it to southwest downtown, this building would provide that seasoning.

 

Also, not "just because it's old." Age alone is seldom a reason to preserve a building. Because it has detail and craftsmanship of a kind no longer found on buildings. It shows us what we once could do, that we are no longer able to do. It keeps us humble and makes us honor the dead.

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Perfectly said H-Town! Besides, many other cities have both a mix of historic and modern buildings either clustered together or usually interspersed amongst each other. It adds layers and depth to a city. As much as I love modern building architecture, I also equally like the contrast that historic architecture provides. 9 times out of 10, historic structures will interact much better with street level activity because they come from a time period when buildings were oriented towards the pedestrian, a concept that most cities have been working very hard to recapture once again.  I would not want to live in a city that is completely all modern and “brand new”. It would aesthetically feel like an over bloated, planned suburb at that point and not a true city anymore. I think the majority (not all) of Houstonians share very rigid views on historic buildings and their preservation. I think having so much “newness” readily available in housing or in the building architecture that’s around us makes most people feel revolted by anything “old”. Thank goodness the super historic cities around the globe that we love to visit, didn’t share this same very ignorant mentality. 

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I've lived in downtown Houston for nearly ten years, all in early 20th c. buildings, all solid. It feels lately like the burbs has invaded with these four-floor apartment buildings taking up whole blocks with pools in the middle of them with big floor plans and a lack of studios/small 1br (and about zero GFR). I don't know how this creates density. Instead it's just blocks and blocks of little to walk to with no "shop" interaction, which doesn't balance the overpriced rents. Short, old buildings beware... Whatever's going up eventually, please let it not be a skyscraper with an enormous lobby and a coffee shop with no street signage that closes at 3pm.

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On ‎9‎/‎15‎/‎2018 at 11:39 PM, H-Town Man said:

 

If the midrises and highrises now filling southeast and south central downtown ever make it to southwest downtown, this building would provide that seasoning.

 

 

 

I don't disagree with this point, but this building had been surrounded by a sea of decay and surface lots for decades.  The Houston Press did a really good article on nasty abandoned buildings by walking out their front door and walking around for a handful of blocks. The old part of the Savoy was crumbling into the ground and the Days Inn persists to this day.  Now, you have the nice YMCA across the street, the old Christian Scientist church is a nightclub (not sure if that's good or bad) and the newer part of the Savoy was rehabbed, and yet, Chevron was the high bidder with what would have to be obvious intentions.

 

Maybe if the old Exxon tower is redeveloped that would flip the value on the location (and even the whole area), but I fear that thing could as likely end up a hideous duplicate of the Days Inn situation as it could a successful project.  In any case, expecting an owner to go long on this property for the upside of character that it might bring to a neighborhood that might never exist is a tough sell.

 

The kind of "personality" an older building might give to a neighborhood is worth something, but apparently not enough for anyone to try and make a go of it here. It's a "classic tragedy of the commons" situation, where someone harms a public resource for their own benefit.  When that public resource is the aesthetics of another's private property, I can't get worked up about it, but again, I realize I am in the minority here.  

 

Redevelopment worked for the Rice, Texaco, Magnolia, etc., but again, how much that is worth vs. how much public money it takes for someone to bother with it is an obscure political matter that won't sway any elections.  

 

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2 hours ago, Nate99 said:

 

I don't disagree with this point, but this building had been surrounded by a sea of decay and surface lots for decades.  The Houston Press did a really good article on nasty abandoned buildings by walking out their front door and walking around for a handful of blocks. The old part of the Savoy was crumbling into the ground and the Days Inn persists to this day.  Now, you have the nice YMCA across the street, the old Christian Scientist church is a nightclub (not sure if that's good or bad) and the newer part of the Savoy was rehabbed, and yet, Chevron was the high bidder with what would have to be obvious intentions.

 

Maybe if the old Exxon tower is redeveloped that would flip the value on the location (and even the whole area), but I fear that thing could as likely end up a hideous duplicate of the Days Inn situation as it could a successful project.  In any case, expecting an owner to go long on this property for the upside of character that it might bring to a neighborhood that might never exist is a tough sell.

 

The kind of "personality" an older building might give to a neighborhood is worth something, but apparently not enough for anyone to try and make a go of it here. It's a "classic tragedy of the commons" situation, where someone harms a public resource for their own benefit.  When that public resource is the aesthetics of another's private property, I can't get worked up about it, but again, I realize I am in the minority here.  

 

Redevelopment worked for the Rice, Texaco, Magnolia, etc., but again, how much that is worth vs. how much public money it takes for someone to bother with it is an obscure political matter that won't sway any elections.  

 

 

I wasn't talking to you. But, you do not preserve historic buildings because they are valuable now, you preserve them because you know they will be valuable down the road. All of south and east downtown was "a sea of decay and surface lots for decades."

 

Everyone is aware that you don't think that anyone's property rights should be infringed based on "another person's aesthetics." If they are not aware, they have half a dozen posts on this webpage alone in which you state the same thing, over and over.

 

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23 hours ago, intencity77 said:

I would not want to live in a city that is completely all modern and “brand new”.

 

Most people wouldn't, unless they are there for a job or some pressing need, not for the city itself. Usually when you travel, the cities that people say "aren't worth visiting" are the cities that lack historic buildings, unless there is a huge crime problem or some overriding factor. There was an interesting image that one website did compiling Google data to show the most photographed places in the world. Overwhelmingly the places with the most history, although natural scenery is somewhat of a factor. It makes sense - people don't take pictures of new glass buildings unless the architecture is outstanding. Houston meanwhile is 30th among world cities in metro GDP but probably doesn't make the top 300 in terms of photographs.

 

https://www.google.com/search?q=most+photographed+places&safe=active&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjg1M7hosLdAhUIiqwKHX_mBjAQ_AUIDigB&biw=1527&bih=820#imgrc=TB7tdmad8Lw2SM:&spf=1537195312898

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On 9/15/2018 at 11:39 PM, H-Town Man said:

 

I disagree. The handful of historic buildings in Midtown, scattered and far-flung as they are, add a seasoning to the sea of modern midrises. You see one as you walk your dog and it gives you some anchor, some sense that there is a history and a depth to the place. If the midrises and highrises now filling southeast and south central downtown ever make it to southwest downtown, this building would provide that seasoning.

 

Also, not "just because it's old." Age alone is seldom a reason to preserve a building. Because it has detail and craftsmanship of a kind no longer found on buildings. It shows us what we once could do, that we are no longer able to do. It keeps us humble and makes us honor the dead.

I'm not saying you have to have an entire block of historic buildings in order for it to make sense to preserve one, certainly having older buildings peppered here and there adds character to a city - as long as the buildings themselves are aesthetically valuable and can be retrofitted to serve modern needs. There are a lot of great old buildings in Downtown that I hope will be saved and repurposed, if I were a developer with the money to do so, that's what I would focus on. And I live in a 50+ year old house even though I could have a newer, bigger house, because I like living in a house, and a neighborhood, that has a history extending back before my lifetime. If it made sense with schools and commute and the amount of space my family needs, not to mention budget, I would totally live in a prewar house, preferably Craftsman. I love older buildings, and am definitely on the side of preservation, even to the point of protective regulations, but I think the aesthetic value of this particular building is being overstated, and I used to work close to it so I'm familiar with the area, I don't think it's really adding that much to the area. You've got modernist buildings, mostly high rise, from the 60s through now surrounding it. Sadly it just doesn't fit there anymore.

 

12 hours ago, AmyP said:

I've lived in downtown Houston for nearly ten years, all in early 20th c. buildings, all solid. It feels lately like the burbs has invaded with these four-floor apartment buildings taking up whole blocks with pools in the middle of them with big floor plans and a lack of studios/small 1br (and about zero GFR). I don't know how this creates density. Instead it's just blocks and blocks of little to walk to with no "shop" interaction, which doesn't balance the overpriced rents. Short, old buildings beware... Whatever's going up eventually, please let it not be a skyscraper with an enormous lobby and a coffee shop with no street signage that closes at 3pm.

 

That is a problem, I was reading an article (posted here) about how apartment square footage has been on an upward trend. Back when I was living in Midtown (Bagby and Gray) in the early 2000s, I though that area showed a lot of promise for true urban living, with places like Cafe Botticelli, Farrago's, etc. moving in and becoming neighborhood hangouts. When I was doing night school for my masters, I'd hang out for hours at Botticelli drinking coffee, or lingering over wine while I studied, it was what I thought intown living was supposed to be. By the time I had moved out of the area, it was getting increasingly suburbanized, with a standalone CVS and suburban-style strip malls sprouting up. And when my younger brother moved into one of those high rises which is exactly like what you're talking about, I saw no charm in that kind of living. However, I think that's all a separate issue of Houston's chronic lack of sensible urban planning, and not really germaine to preserving this particular building.

Edited by Reefmonkey

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37 minutes ago, Reefmonkey said:

I love older buildings, and am definitely on the side of preservation, even to the point of protective regulations, but I think the aesthetic value of this particular building is being overstated, and I used to work close to it so I'm familiar with the area, I don't think it's really adding that much to the area. You've got modernist buildings, mostly high rise, from the 60s through now surrounding it. Sadly it just doesn't fit there anymore.

 

You've got parking garages and parking lots. This area could become anything. The future of downtown is residential. We've seen it happen a few blocks east on Main Street and it could easily spread here in the next ten years. This would be perfect in a residential district. A bar in a legitimate old building will draw a lot more patrons than one in a Skyhouse-type tower or in a brick midrise trying to look old.

 

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1 hour ago, H-Town Man said:

 

I wasn't talking to you. But, you do not preserve historic buildings because they are valuable now, you preserve them because you know they will be valuable down the road. All of south and east downtown was "a sea of decay and surface lots for decades."

 

Everyone is aware that you don't think that anyone's property rights should be infringed based on "another person's aesthetics." If they are not aware, they have half a dozen posts on this webpage alone in which you state the same thing, over and over.

 

 

If you know they will be valuable down the road, you can keep your aesthetics and make money for your troubles.  It's not even speculation at that point and no one has to infringe on anyone's rights.    

Edited by Nate99

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34 minutes ago, Nate99 said:

 

If you know they will be valuable down the road, you can keep your aesthetics and make money for your troubles.  It's not even speculation at that point and no one has to infringe on anyone's rights.    

 

I should point out that at no point in this thread have I advocated preservation laws or infringing anyone's property rights. The post you jumped on this morning was me discussing with Reefmonkey whether it's valuable to preserve standalone historic buildings. I had not said anything about laws. (Although, if you want to know my opinion on that, I do think that the majority has certain claims on the individual when it comes to the built environment, even within a system that honors property rights, and hence I see no theoretical barrier either to preservation or zoning laws.)

 

My personal issue with you is that you endlessly hijack discussions involving historic buidings, whether or not anyone is advocating laws (as no one had been at the time you jumped into this thread), and then you bait people into arguing with you, following which you drown them in often essay-length posts usually repeating the same points over and over until they are tired of responding and you win by default. There was an old poster on here named TheNiche who used to do this. Like you, his special calling card was that he knew more about economics than the rest of us. Eventually he was driven off the forum for violating some technicality, although the real reason was apparent. You are not as bad as he was, but you are heading down that road.

 

Edited by H-Town Man

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I see an interesting logic underpinning preservation decisions, with new facts in each instance.  My discussion around the topic might do better for the world if it were confined to my own head, or at least to sites other than this one, I will give you that. 

 

 

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I am all for owners preserving older buildings if that's what they want to do. I am not advocating that 1621 Milam be torn down for no reason, but the reality is that it sits on a Downtown lot worth $16 million. There is no economic use of a 41,000 sq ft building at that price unless it is made part of another piece of development, which doesn't really make sense. I suspect that Chevron saw that a full square block was available, and bought it to give them flexibility for future expansion, possibly a parking garage for their other buildings. I do not see an alternative where a full block owned by a single party doesn't get torn down and redeveloped. You could say the building was cursed in that way. If the block had been split between multiple owners, the incentive to demolish would be much smaller, because of limited flexibility.

 

I am a strong believer in property rights, and that changing the game in midstream is wrong. I was vehemently against the Heights Historic Districts, because of how they were implemented, changing the rules on existing property owners, which diminished their rights. Grandfathering the existing homeowners would have been far more fair, than telling them to move to the suburbs when they had more kids, or wanted more space.

 

I've lived in Houston since 1976, and have seen many changes, mostly for the better. The city has always reinvented itself. That's not going to change, and can't if we want the city to remain viable.

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