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CraigM

Houston Press Article On The Three Abandoned Hotels

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Hello all,

My name is Craig Malisow, and I'm a reporter with the Houston Press. I'm looking into writing a story about the history and current status of the old Days Inn, Savoy, and Central Bank(?) buildings. So far, this forum has turned out to be a great resource.

Can anyone help with more info about current owners, building conditions, etc? I'd especially like to hear from anyone who's spent time inside the buildings.

Besides contacting me here, you can reach me at craig.malisow@houstonpress.com, or at 713.280.2481. I don't think the local media have done an in-depth exploration of why these buildings have basically been allowed to rot all these years, and I'd like to talk to all the players involved.

Thanks,

Craig

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One common problem with some of the abandoned buildings downtown is asbestos. The cost of asbestos abatement makes redevelopment very expensive, since it can involve gutting down to the frame. The old Texaco and Sheraton buildings have had abatement, but they are still awaiting redevelopment. In the case of the Sheraton, it is hard to redevelop in part because the profile of the building is so narrow (1/4 block deep) that there is little opportunity for flexible floorplans.

I suspect that asbestos is a problem at the Savoy as well. The interior of the new wing is supposed to be in decent shape, but there is already a glut of hotel rooms downtown, and demand is going to be especially thin in that section of downtown. Probably nothing will happen unless there is a sudden increase in residential demand, which I really don't see happening soon. The old Savoy building interior has collapsed, and eventual demolition is the only plausible fate for that.

There have been plans to renovate the old Holiday Inn (later Days Inn) but the apparently came to nothing. Again, it's a problem of limited residential demand.

It is unfortunate that there are so many vacant buildings downtown. In addition to the ones you mentioned, the Melrose building has been vacant for years, as has the Ben Milam and most of the West Buildings. 806 Main I believe is close to vacant, but with that facade it has zero architectural appeal despite the great location. It was originally a beautiful building, and if the facade could be removed there would might be more interest in doing something with it.

As sad as it is to have so many empty structures, I would rather have them remain standing than be torn down for yet more parking lots. Maybe some day demand will pick up, and developers will see some value in these properties.

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i could help - i have quite a few pictures, too - do the houston press lawyers approve this now (about the interior investigative parts)?

besides asbestos, the problem is of course bad stewardship. i have seen the interiors of the buildings mentioned, and man, they're nasty. it's a shame - especially the ben milam, in my opinion. i wish the owner would stop jerking everyone around and just tell us his real plans

Edited by sevfiv

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I sent a PM to 'squatterkid' asking if he'd be interested in sharing his experiences and observations with a wider audience.

Craig, you can go to the Members tab and check out some of his posts - you might find them helpful.

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Can anyone help with more info about current owners, building conditions, etc? I'd especially like to hear from anyone who's spent time inside the buildings.

I don't know how much mileage you'll get out of them, but you can look up owners-of-record on the HCAD web site at http://www.hcad.org/

Cheers,

Stephen

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This topic got me thinking about the vacant buildings downtown. It surprised me to realize it, but downtown Houston actually has a passable record of redeveloping, or at least not demolishing, major old structures. This is not a comprehensive list, and it excludes dozens of smaller buildings, and only covers about the last ten years, but it makes the point that the tax break for downtown hotels was probably the biggest spur to redevelopment of vacant buildings.

Redeveloped

Shell Building/Magnolia Hotel

Texas State Hotel/Club Quarters

Sam Houston Hotel

World Trade Center/Inn at the Ballpark

Whitehall Hotel/Crown Plaza

Stowers

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i would especially like to see the actual completion of redevelopment at ben milam (at a standstill - no surprise), texaco (a few bites, but nothing yet), the melrose, and central square.

i would vote for the old savoy, but it looks beyond any reasonable repair (just wiating for the day it falls over)

the stowers redevelopment was nice, but it now sits unfinished on the inside, waiting for tenants...of course, this was a Spire Realty deal, and all of a sudden the company had a huge change of heart (even after receiving a good brick award) - the stowers is empty, the william penn is gone.

______

oh and there's also the redeveloped degeorge at union station

Edited by sevfiv

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Didn't the Days Inn have in interesting past associated with some Maharishi Vegan Cult group of some kind? late 80's, early 90's?

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Didn't the Days Inn have in interesting past associated with some Maharishi Vegan Cult group of some kind? late 80's, early 90's?

yep:

http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive....id=1993_1117505 (registration required)

1993

A downtown Houston hotel has been purchased by a group led by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the former spiritual adviser to the Beatles.

The 31-story hotel, 801 Calhoun, is expected to be used as a training center for the organization.

and

http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive....id=1993_1117700

The downtown Houston hotel purchased by a group led by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has been renamed the Heaven of Earth Inn and will include a Transcendental Meditation school.

and then...

1994

http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive....id=1994_1226611

The Heaven on Earth Inn, a downtown hotel operated by Transcendental Meditation devotees, has closed the hotel and restaurant portion of its operations.

The 31-story hotel at 801 Calhoun now will be called the Maharishi Vedic School.

aaaaand then:

1998

http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive....id=1998_3085341

Tenant Marquetta Kamoga was seated by the front desk working the switchboard. Another tenant was running the elevators.

And seated alone at a table in the lobby, working intently on paperwork about the 145 fire and health code violations that are forcing the 125 to 130 remaining tenants to be out of the building by 10 a.m. today, Houston Fire Department inspector J.D. Harris was clueless about the management.

Edited by sevfiv

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Central Bank was quite swank when new.

cencom001.jpg

One thing that I always thought was kind of funny was on top of the old Holiday Inn someone painted the single word "Hotel" at the top.

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^ yeah, it was pretty neat looking, imo (and that image is available at the Texas Room)

One thing that I always thought was kind of funny was on top of the old Holiday Inn someone painted the single word "Hotel" at the top.

that's strange - small, and off center, too:

pdt_hotel042.jpg

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^ yeah, it was pretty neat looking, imo (and that image is available at the Texas Room)

that's strange - small, and off center, too:

pdt_hotel042.jpg

This is a guess, but it would make sense for there to have been some previous other sign above that, maybe with a brand name or something that got painted over or otherwise removed.

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This is a guess, but it would make sense for there to have been some previous other sign above that, maybe with a brand name or something that got painted over or otherwise removed.

Look at the lower left hand side of the picture. You can see the semicircular frame of what used to be the Days Inn sign and logo.

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i'll try to post a higher res scan later, but back when it was a holiday inn, at least from the front there was only the logo on the garage:

innlowres.jpg

it's a relatively small space for a name, anyhow

Edited by sevfiv

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"Hotel" looks like it was painted by an amateur. I doubt there was a logo; it probably dates from either the period when it was occupied by the homeless or else the "Heaven on Earth" phase.

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From the upper floors of the Savoy, I used to look over at that foul temptress, the Days Inn.

If I'm not mistaken, there is a RV parked on the top floor of the parking garage.

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Hey all,

Just wanted to let you know that my story on the Savoy, Holiday Inn and Central Square came out today. It's available on the racks and should be online later today at www.houstonpress.com. I'd like to thank everyone for all their time and help -- this site was invaluable. I hope you enjoy the story and am curious about your thoughts.

Thanks again,

Craig

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They even mention a HAIF poster again...

This Blows!

Houston has a national rep for taking down buildings. So why are these eyesores still standing?

Edited by ToolMan

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Actually, Houston is just one of a zillion cities with this problem. No, it won't get fixed overnight. But ... location - location - location will totally fix the problem ... in time. :unsure:

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Actually, Houston is just one of a zillion cities with this problem. No, it won't get fixed overnight. But ... location - location - location will totally fix the problem ... in time. :unsure:

I thought there were plans to change the old Days Inn hotel to a mixed use development or something like that. There's a thread about it somewhere on HAIF . The thread just needs to be uncovered from the dust.

Edited by ssullivan

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So why are these eyesores still standing?

In large part because the owners are screwballs. I'd like to see them redeveloped, too, but frankly, they are 1) probably past the point at which repair is economically feasible, and 2) aren't really all that much of a problem. If the City were to even propose to do something to them, I'd be the first of many to say that there are probably many better uses of public funds, even among the projects that I don't support.

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Hey all,

Just wanted to let you know that my story on the Savoy, Holiday Inn and Central Square came out today. It's available on the racks and should be online later today at www.houstonpress.com. I'd like to thank everyone for all their time and help -- this site was invaluable. I hope you enjoy the story and am curious about your thoughts.

Thanks again,

Craig

I enjoyed every word of that article. I laughed ... but then thought real hard about the subject and it wasn't as funny then. Thanks for your hard work on this. Reality bites.

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Hey all,

Just wanted to let you know that my story on the Savoy, Holiday Inn and Central Square came out today. It's available on the racks and should be online later today at www.houstonpress.com. I'd like to thank everyone for all their time and help -- this site was invaluable. I hope you enjoy the story and am curious about your thoughts.

Thanks again,

Craig

It a great article.

squatter kid is awesome too.

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Actually, Houston is just one of a zillion cities with this problem. No, it won't get fixed overnight. But ... location - location - location will totally fix the problem ... in time. :unsure:

I don't think it's a matter of time though. There are buldings, such as the Savoy and Sheraton, that have been vacant for twenty years. Who's to say they won't stay vacant another twenty?

The article mentions Lee Harvey Oswald, but it missed the odd story that Oswald stayed at the Savoy in October 1963.

I'm glad that sevfiv's pictures got credit! :)

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Hola,

This really has nothing to do with anything, but...

I have read on this forum that Oswald stayed at the Savoy; however, I've found no documentation supporting that. Otherwise, I would have definitely included it! As far as I can tell, Oswald went to Mexico in late Sept., 1963, and returned to Dallas by Oct. 3. That's when Marina and baby June were living with Ruth Paine in Irving. Oswald briefly stayed at a Dallas YMCA before winding up at his boarding house on North Beckley, which is where he fled after the assassination and in the neighborhood where Tippit was killed.

Oswald apparently did stop in Houston on his way to Mexico (via Laredo), where he called the Texas Socialist Labor Party. However, in the accounts I read, it does not explicitly state he stayed in Houston. But if anyone has any more info on this, I'd love to know!

Thanks,

Craig

I don't think it's a matter of time though. There are buldings, such as the Savoy and Sheraton, that have been vacant for twenty years. Who's to say they won't stay vacant another twenty?

The article mentions Lee Harvey Oswald, but it missed the odd story that Oswald stayed at the Savoy in October 1963.

I'm glad that sevfiv's pictures got credit! :)

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Hola,

This really has nothing to do with anything, but...

I have read on this forum that Oswald stayed at the Savoy; however, I've found no documentation supporting that. Otherwise, I would have definitely included it!

On Saturday, October 5, around 7 am, a motorist, Stanley Moczygemba, reportedly picked up Lee Oswald hitchhiking along Loop 281 in southern San Antonio, and drove him 28 miles south to Leming, Texas, where Moczygemba owned a farm. Oswald told him that he'd recently traveled from Laredo to San Antonio, but was now heading back towards Laredo. Moczygemba described Oswald as mid 20s, about 5'8", 150 pounds. Oswald was wearing a hat and a heavy coat that was much too warm for the weather; the coat was closed up all the way to the neck.

Around this same time, Lee Oswald applied for a job at the Continental Oil Company in Houston, and was interviewed by a Mrs. Sheppard. He told her he had just returned from Mexico with a friend, and that they had attempted to proceed from Mexico to Cuba. He mentioned he was staying at the Savoy Apartments two blocks away. George Ryan, manager of the Stop-N-Go drive-in grocery in Houston, told the FBI that, around this time, Oswald tried on three successive days to cash a $65 check at his store.

Chris Courtwright, "Oswald in Aliceland."

John Armstrong, "Harvey and Lee: The Case for Two Oswalds, Part 2," PROBE, Vol. 5, No. 1, November-December 1997.

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OK, we're getting way off the subject (buildings!) and am just going to put my last two cents in.

I'm a big fan of JFK assassination conspiracy theories. I've read a lot about them, and it's fascinating to see all the different ideas people have come up with over the years. The article cited here is of the "multiple Oswald" school, which has various versions of Oswald running around all over the place; buying a car with cash, talking smack at a rifle range, etc.

I think the debate about the assassination is wonderful. After all, I'm the business of asking questions, too, and I think it's especially important in such a historical matter. However, I would never use any theorist literature as a primary source. Even if 20 conspiracy theorists put Oswald at the Savoy, I would not rely on that alone. There is simply too much shaky, questionable research in this arena, and it would be irresponsible as a journalist to rely on that stuff alone.

Thanks,

Craig

On Saturday, October 5, around 7 am, a motorist, Stanley Moczygemba, reportedly picked up Lee Oswald hitchhiking along Loop 281 in southern San Antonio, and drove him 28 miles south to Leming, Texas, where Moczygemba owned a farm. Oswald told him that he'd recently traveled from Laredo to San Antonio, but was now heading back towards Laredo. Moczygemba described Oswald as mid 20s, about 5'8", 150 pounds. Oswald was wearing a hat and a heavy coat that was much too warm for the weather; the coat was closed up all the way to the neck.

Around this same time, Lee Oswald applied for a job at the Continental Oil Company in Houston, and was interviewed by a Mrs. Sheppard. He told her he had just returned from Mexico with a friend, and that they had attempted to proceed from Mexico to Cuba. He mentioned he was staying at the Savoy Apartments two blocks away. George Ryan, manager of the Stop-N-Go drive-in grocery in Houston, told the FBI that, around this time, Oswald tried on three successive days to cash a $65 check at his store.

Chris Courtwright, "Oswald in Aliceland."

John Armstrong, "Harvey and Lee: The Case for Two Oswalds, Part 2," PROBE, Vol. 5, No. 1, November-December 1997.

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I certainly apologize then for spreading false information. I had stumbled on the Oswald story while researching the Savoy, but I know next to nothing about the Kennedy assassination so I didn't realize it was bogus. :blush:

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097.jpg

>6 months later, this is still downtown's most happening spot. <_<

As usual, HAIFers focus on the negative.

6 months later, one of the three vacant hotels is about to be re-done into an Omni, which will be a 4 or 5 star hotel and a beautiful addition to downtown Houston.

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Really? You've got the scoop....do tell us. I can't find anything else on it.

I'll believe it when I see it.

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Really? You've got the scoop....do tell us. I can't find anything else on it.

I'll believe it when I see it.

i think there's a little confusion..the HP article is on the savoy, holiday inn and central square building but the title of the thread says savoy, holiday inn and sheraton. the sheraton is the one being remodelled so the area of south downtown is still silent

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OK, thanks for clearing this up....the picture I posted I took on Sunday from that parking lot on Leeland/Main. Quite the visual paradox there in looking to the south vs. the north.

To the south you have what you see above. I was hoping to see *squatterkid* triumphantly waving at everyone from the roof of the Days Inn...

To the north...

088.jpg

091.jpg

089.jpg

Surely with those views, eventually somebody will do something about lower Downtown.

Edited by BrewsterMcCloud

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Its sad to see the old Holiday Inn in its current state. IMO its the cities fault for not being more aggressive in doing something. All the building needs is a little TLC and a b*ttload of cash.

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Its sad to see the old Holiday Inn in its current state. IMO its the cities fault for not being more aggressive in doing something. All the building needs is a little TLC and a b*ttload of cash.

There's a thread on here somewhere. I think they began gutting the old Holiday Inn/Days Inn building earlier this year. They were going to make it into a fancy suite hotel or something like that.

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Its sad to see the old Holiday Inn in its current state. IMO its the cities fault for not being more aggressive in doing something. All the building needs is a little TLC and a b*ttload of cash.

I worked for a capital management group in Houston in 1996 that received a commercial project perspective on the "Heaven on Earth" or former "Holiday Inn" hotel and its marketers were seeking $60,000/unit. I believe the hotel has 410+ hotel rooms. From my perspective, the pricing was quite distended even for 1995 - 1999 property speculation.

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Hello all,

My name is Craig Malisow, and I'm a reporter with the Houston Press. I'm looking into writing a story about the history and current status of the old Days Inn, Savoy, and Central Bank(?) buildings. So far, this forum has turned out to be a great resource.

Can anyone help with more info about current owners, building conditions, etc? I'd especially like to hear from anyone who's spent time inside the buildings.

Besides contacting me here, you can reach me at craig.malisow@houstonpress.com, or at 713.280.2481. I don't think the local media have done an in-depth exploration of why these buildings have basically been allowed to rot all these years, and I'd like to talk to all the players involved.

Thanks,

Craig

Good luck in your story!

You could also look the Plaza Apartment Hotel on Montrose Boulevard.

That building sat vacant and rotting for years, before finally being renovated into the "Tradition Bank Plaza." I wonder what the players on that project have to say about the three Hotels.

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Look at the lower left hand side of the picture. You can see the semicircular frame of what used to be the Days Inn sign and logo.

There are a couple of birds of prey that have nested in the sign frame this spring. They spend most of the clear days swooping about the street canyons in search of flocks of small migrating birds.

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There are a couple of birds of prey that have nested in the sign frame this spring. They spend most of the clear days swooping about the street canyons in search of flocks of small migrating birds.

I saw those Hawks yesterday morning, but they landed on the Central Square sign and disappeared. ...probably doin' the nasty up in there. B)

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I was just looking for some data for school, and I bumped into this website

http://www.commonground.org/?page_id=18

This organization remodels old buildings in NYC and develops them into housing for homeless, seniors, and vets.

Perhaps something like this could help to revamp some of the abandoned buildings in downtown Houston.

What would you think?

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I was just looking for some data for school, and I bumped into this website

http://www.commonground.org/?page_id=18

This organization remodels old buildings in NYC and develops them into housing for homeless, seniors, and vets.

Perhaps something like this could help to revamp some of the abandoned buildings in downtown Houston.

What would you think?

It is a great idea I think for helping out vets and seniors, but who will be paying for it? If it is tax dollars, I don’t want my tax dollars being spent on homeless people who are lazy, however I have no problem helping out people who are homeless who are mentally challenged or a vet (which is a great majority of homeless around here), but I will not help people out who are lazy and don't want to contribute to society.

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http://www.chron.com...le/7555826.html

something interesting...

"New Era Hospitality Inc., an investment group, purchased the building with hopes of renovating it into to a high-end hotel in 2008, but construction stalled over money woes.

"After we bought it, the financial market immediately crashed. We couldn't get a construction loan," said Ray Mohiuddin, the president of New Era Hospitality. "But we are getting close to one." "

"A four-story building at 500 Fannin has been purchased by Robert Fretz, who owns a construction company, with plans proceeding for its renovation into retail and office space. "

Edited by DrLan34

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