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Houston Press - Downtown Block 352


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1 hour ago, Ross said:

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.

 

Building covers slightly under 1/4 of the block, so land under it is worth about $4 million. If the neighborhood revives (basically waiting on Days Inn to be fixed up or demo'd) and you lease it up at say $18/SF blended, cap it at 7.00% and you get a value of $10.5 million. This is just back of the napkin, there would be other costs, but it's too early to say "there is no economic use." Chevron is likely tearing it down to save on taxes.

 

London and Berlin reinvent themselves and remain viable while preserving history, as do Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, Austin....

 

Carry on.

 

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Berlin has no history, it was destroyed in WWII, then rebuilt to look old. London is tearing stuff down all the time, and much of the Eastern side is relatively new buildings that replaced structures lost in the war.

 

The numbers you cite above might work if the building did not include the entire block. Given that the entire block is owned by a single entity that is not in the real estate business, there's no scenario that doesn't involve demolition and redevelopment with a structure that meets the owner's requirements. Presumably, the prior owner did not want to break up the block and sell pieces, and Chevron leaped at the chance to buy an entire block close to existing property in a single transaction.

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I think this overwhelming deference to and insistence on the rights of property owners is detrimental to the cohesive functioning and livable development of our city. At some point, people must realize that they are their brothers' keepers, and we are all in this together.

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5 hours ago, Ross said:

Berlin has no history, it was destroyed in WWII, then rebuilt to look old. London is tearing stuff down all the time, and much of the Eastern side is relatively new buildings that replaced structures lost in the war.

 

The numbers you cite above might work if the building did not include the entire block. Given that the entire block is owned by a single entity that is not in the real estate business, there's no scenario that doesn't involve demolition and redevelopment with a structure that meets the owner's requirements. Presumably, the prior owner did not want to break up the block and sell pieces, and Chevron leaped at the chance to buy an entire block close to existing property in a single transaction.

 

Berlin has plenty of historic 20th century buildings that are being preserved while radically innovative developments go up nearby. London preserves historic buildings as well as anyone and has no shortage of great new stuff like the stuff you mention.

 

Simplest thing in the world to treat the vacant 3/4 of the block as excess land available for new development while retaining the historic building. Happens in other cities all the time. Even happened here with the Aloft hotel. It is circular logic to say, "This couldn't have happened because it is not what happened."

 

Edited by H-Town Man
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2 hours ago, ADCS said:

I think this overwhelming deference to and insistence on the rights of property owners is detrimental to the cohesive functioning and livable development of our city. At some point, people must realize that they are their brothers' keepers, and we are all in this together.

 

Agreed.

 

"A virtue is between two vices." - Aristotle

 

"Balance, Daniel-san." - Mr. Miyagi

 

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14 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

 

Building covers slightly under 1/4 of the block, so land under it is worth about $4 million. If the neighborhood revives (basically waiting on Days Inn to be fixed up or demo'd) and you lease it up at say $18/SF blended, cap it at 7.00% and you get a value of $10.5 million. This is just back of the napkin, there would be other costs, but it's too early to say "there is no economic use." Chevron is likely tearing it down to save on taxes.

2

 

HCAD appraisal is $16 mil land and $1.3 mil improvement, so taxes on the structure are only like $35k/year. I would assume demo cost a few multiples of that?

 

 

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yes, berlin was heavily bombed. they did restore some buildings, and following the war there were variations of tear downs and restoration depending on if you are looking at east or west berlin. but last time i checked Houston was not bombed during WWII so how is this relevant?

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52 minutes ago, wilcal said:

 

HCAD appraisal is $16 mil land and $1.3 mil improvement, so taxes on the structure are only like $35k/year. I would assume demo cost a few multiples of that?

 

 

 

Probably. Makes sense if you might be holding the land for 10 years before developing it, and if that eventual development will most likely require demolition anyway.

 

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48 minutes ago, gmac said:

 

Look at a map of buildings destroyed in WWII and tell me where Berlin still has true historic structures. I'll wait.

Well aware of the great destruction of much/most of Berlin in WWII.  The statement, "Berlin has no history, it was destroyed in WWII, then rebuilt to look old." is just laughable to me.  History is only created through time.  Buildings may be destroyed, but history is not.  Berlin's history is amazing.  The destruction of the war is just part of it.  So, is the restoration and rebuilding of the historic structures.  At least the German's care to do it. 

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15 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

 

Probably. Makes sense if you might be holding the land for 10 years before developing it, and if that eventual development will most likely require demolition anyway.

 

 

My next question is, would it really make sense to not continue to rent it out? No idea the quality inside, but it hasn't been unoccupied for that long. 

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Just now, wilcal said:

 

My next question is, would it really make sense to not continue to rent it out? No idea the quality inside, but it hasn't been unoccupied for that long. 

 

Not sure. They didn't try to rent out the YMCA building, just got rid of it without a moment's notice right after it went vacant. My guess is that they just want everything simple, clean, and ready to go, even if it means losing some small change. I imagine that currently it would be difficult to rent due to (1) the Days Inn stigma, (2) the parking garages across the street, and (3) the lack of supporting residential or office space (vacant Exxon building) nearby. Change a couple of those and it probably works.

 

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There's another old-timey car dealership bldg at St. Joseph and Milam that's been renovated and sat empty for almost 5 years. The Houston Press/Gillum Pontiac bldg is a smaller version of the same type but it did have some interesting history and a pleasant, low key mural befitting the edge of the "parking lot district." 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 10/19/2018 at 7:59 PM, Timoric said:

Downtown Block 352, how many total blocks does Downtown have?

It's Block 352 SSBB, where SSBB is South Side Buffalo Bayou. It looks like there are/were 668 of them. Hard to get details on my phone.

 

There are also blocks with NSBB North of the bayou.

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17 hours ago, j_cuevas713 said:

The Chronicle wrote an article about the building. What can we do to get our voice heard? We obviously love Houston. 

https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Saving-1621-Milam-from-the-wrecking-ball-becomes-13332551.php?ipid=hpctp

 

Get creative. Make news. Print up a couple thousand t-shirts that say "CHEVRON [LOGO] PROMISED US A 50-STORY TOWER AND ALL WE GOT WAS THIS DEMOLISHED BUILDING" and pass them out for free downtown, especially to all the homeless in south downtown. I don't know.

 

Longterm: put your money where your history is. Developers will take on historic rehab projects when they see that the ones that have been done have turned a profit. Eat at restaurants in historic buildings, stay at hotels in historic buildings, etc.

 

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46 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

 

Get creative. Make news. Print up a couple thousand t-shirts that say "CHEVRON [LOGO] PROMISED US A 50-STORY TOWER AND ALL WE GOT WAS THIS DEMOLISHED BUILDING" and pass them out for free downtown, especially to all the homeless in south downtown. I don't know.

 

Longterm: put your money where your history is. Developers will take on historic rehab projects when they see that the ones that have been done have turned a profit. Eat at restaurants in historic buildings, stay at hotels in historic buildings, etc.

 

For a company that brags about sustainability, it sucks to see them do this. The trend in Houston the past few years has shown countless warehouses and older structures being restored to turn a profit.  

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  • Subdude changed the title to Houston Press - Downtown Block 352
1 hour ago, rechlin said:

The Chronicle is covering its demolition, complete with photos of the carnage:

 

https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Downtown-landmark-Houston-Press-building-reduced-13348410.php

 

I'm annoyed by these people who want to save it right after learning about plans to demo it. If there are any other buildings they want to save, don't wait until the wrecking ball shows up.

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1 hour ago, lockmat said:

 

I'm annoyed by these people who want to save it right after learning about plans to demo it. If there are any other buildings they want to save, don't wait until the wrecking ball shows up.

 

The only way to preemptively save buildings is to pass a strong preservation ordinance. We can't just go campaigning to save every historic building when there are no plans for their demolition.

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4 hours ago, Chi-Char-Hou-Dal said:

I saw the guts of the building half way demolished, parking structure, some old bricks, IMO not too much to be sad about, if Chevron actually does something with this block that would be cool. Don't really see why they would knock it down just to grow grass

They've been growing grass on the old YMCA lot for years now. 

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