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Future Downtown Parkland Sale Finalized


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Dallas Business Journal

Monday, December 20, 2004

Crescent completes Houston sale

Crescent Real Estate Equities Co. has finalized the sale of 5.3 acres of land to the city of Houston.

The sale, which was disclosed as being under contract on Oct. 19, generated proceeds of about $23 million, Fort Worth-based Crescent (NYSE:CEI) said Monday.

The land is adjacent to the 5.5 acres located in front of downtown's George R. Brown Convention Center that Crescent sold to the city at the end of 2002.

The land allows the city to consolidate its land in order to develop a 13-acre urban park.

Crescent owns and manages a portfolio of more than 70 office buildings totaling more than 29 million square feet primarily in the Southwest.

Web site: www.crescent.com

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It will be at least interesting to watch how the city handles the likely large hobo population once this park is finished, as it is being created, as I see it, at least in part, to be an image enhancer for the city. It could be the prime litmus test for Houston's unofficial hobo policy.

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The majority of the park site is already greenspace, with two small surface parking lots on the sides in front of the GRB. I really don't think that converting the parking to parkland will have a really big impact on the character of the space, or that it will somehow cause an invasion of significantly more homeless people than might already be there, especially in front of the Hilton.

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The majority of the park site is already greenspace, with two small surface parking lots on the sides in front of the GRB.  I really don't think that converting the parking to parkland will have a really big impact on the character of the space, or that it will somehow cause an invasion of significantly more homeless people than might already be there, especially in front of the Hilton.

These are parcels divided by streets, I take it. Any idea if they plan on turning those streets into park or will the parcels remain divided? Pure park would be cool.

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You're kidding right? You're no better by squatting. That's trespassing, which is breaking the law. Get a job, find a place to live, learn to live with responsiblity like the rest of us. :o

The same goes to the rest of these physically able & mentally sound homeless people. Stop asking for a piece of my paycheck and go EARN your own. <_<

Glen

I agree with 27...people should be able to enjoy themselves when they go to a park and not be panhandled or have to worry about unsanitary conditions created by the homeless.

Quite frankly, I think the homeless situation in Houston has gotten grossly out of hand. Like, I'm sorry their life sucks and they lack the determination to better themself against some odds, but most of us weren't handed our money on a silver platter either. I've had to work hard just to get where I am today, and I still have bills and debts to pay off. Stop begging me at every highway underpass and gas station!

The new park could be a significant improvement for downtown, but it will go unused if it ends up being desecrated by hobos. They should go to the Salvation Army, get cleaned up, learn to read, and appy for a menial job for god's sake.

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Can anyone tell me why the park cost 80 million dollars? It must be something more than greenspace.

I have to admit that I am kind of conservative when it comes to the subject of homeless people in downtown. I think more development will fix the problem though.

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These are parcels divided by streets, I take it. Any idea if they plan on turning those streets into park or will the parcels remain divided? Pure park would be cool.

The park site is bisected by Crawford. I haven't seen any announcement of that section of the street being closed, but it would make sense to do so since the street dead-ends nearby at the Toyota Center and there is little traffic through the proposed park.

Nobody likes having homeless hanging around, but it's grossly simplistic to think it's just a matter of them being lazy and that they can just be told to go get jobs. It may be comforting to consider it a moral failure, but unfortunately many of the homeless are mentally ill, alcoholic, or whatnot, and are not readily employable.

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Can anyone tell me why the park cost 80 million dollars?  It must be something more than greenspace.

I have to admit that I am kind of conservative when it comes to the subject of homeless people in downtown.  I think more development will fix the problem though.

I think the 80 million dollar tag includes the cost of purchasing the land.

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The park site is bisected by Crawford. 

Nobody likes having homeless hanging around, but it's grossly simplistic to think it's just a matter of them being lazy and that they can just be told to go get jobs. 

I drove past today around noon and there were no homeless. I have to hand it to the landscape designers for the existing park parcels. It's simple and pure and the trees are maturing nicely and are currently gorgeous with red and yellow leaves.

By the way, Crawford through there has some very young, conifers of some sort planted along the sidewalk but they appear to have red/brown foliage. They appear to be dying as I don't know of any conifers that have foliage that turns autumn colors. There are some of the same trees but larger in Midtown on Gray. They look like they're dying too. Were these just bad selections?

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I agree with 27...people should be able to enjoy themselves when they go to a park and not be panhandled or have to worry about unsanitary conditions created by the homeless.

Quite frankly, I think the homeless situation in Houston has gotten grossly out of hand. Like, I'm sorry their life sucks and they lack the determination to better themself against some odds, but most of us weren't handed our money on a silver platter either. I've had to work hard just to get where I am today, and I still have bills and debts to pay off. Stop begging me at every highway underpass and gas station!

The new park could be a significant improvement for downtown, but it will go unused if it ends up being desecrated by hobos. They should go to the Salvation Army, get cleaned up, learn to read, and appy for a menial job for god's sake.

I think more drastic action needs to be taken.

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not every park is a haven to the homeless. I noticed the park just outside of BW3 is rather nice with not a homeless person in sight! I was there towards the end of the evening when they're generally bedding down at night.

I agree that some more aggressive measures should be done in regards to where the homeless congregate. Metro offers them free rides to/from various charities around town. They could all go to a centralized area where ALL the charities can help them out.

But then we come to another question: WHERE? The NIMBY's will be outraged.

Ricco

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By the way, Crawford through there has some very young, conifers of some sort planted along the sidewalk but they appear to have red/brown foliage. They appear to be dying as I don't know of any conifers that have foliage that turns autumn colors. There are some of the same trees but larger in Midtown on Gray. They look like they're dying too. Were these just bad selections?

i don't remember the name of these trees, but i do know which trees you are referring too. these trees do lose their needles/foliage and appear to be dying; however, they will grow back. in fact, i think these trees were discussed in the old forum. maybe someone else will know a little more.

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It's a shame we even have this problem in America. Just a tiny fraction of a percent of the money we spend on highways in this city would be enough to fund work programs and build rehabilitation centers and mental health centers for all the city's homeless.

I wrote a letter to Mayor White just the other day complaining about this issue (and I never write letters to public officials). I suggest everyone reading this who lives in Houston should send a letter to a representative requesting that more resources be directed towards helping the homeless get off our streets. As long as they remain, our city's image suffers, as does our goal of making downtown and midtown a more liveable place.

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Well, most of it that be alliviated with a little community leadership. It is quite obvious that the homeless isn't going to be taken care of by the government (The homeless don't have a lobbyist), it is basically up to the private sector to take up the slack.

My only beef is that the private sector agencies that DOES try to help either doesnt have the resources, the knowledge, the knowhow, or the clue as to what to do. Some of this can be helped if a few of the charity organizations would swallow their civic pride and join forces to focus on a community based rehab.

Every homeless person has a different need to be able to get away from their situation. Some need psychiatric help, some need a job are able to apply their skills, and yet others simply need a bit of medical care.

The "one way to treat them all" doesn't really work. I think if we can put 10% of the resources we have sent to asia as relief to here in the U.S. we'd be in much better shape.

Ricco

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As was previously mentioned, there are different categories of homeless. For the group that want to work, perhaps the city can provide a place where they can stay, provided they work during the day cleaning up litter around town, with the option of some kind of job training at night.

I would guess that a lot of these people have gotten used to the hobo lifestyle and wouldn't want a job.

We have an HPD officer come to our civic club meetings and he told us of a homeless guy they found dead on the east end. He had $6500 in his pockets and $90,000 in the bank. The officer says that if these guys aren't making $200-$250 a day, they're not trying.

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I would guess that a lot of these people have gotten used to the hobo lifestyle and wouldn't want a job.

I think that's true for some, but I bet most of them really do want a job and they're just afraid or they feel incapable.

It reminds me of my grandma who we had to move out of her house and into an assisted care facility. She absolutely did not want to go and give up her independence. But now she has lots of new friends and she likes where she lives.

I think the homeless would be extremely happy in time with a job and a decent place to live. I think many of them fear giving up their independence, and they just need help and encouragement to get back on their feet. The mentally ill just need help.

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I never give money to pan handlers. I have asked if they are getting any assistance from an organization or church that I can donate to and have gotten the varied responses you can imagine. There was a guy down in Galveston hanging outside a Jack in the Box asking for food money. I was going through the drivethru and I told him to just give me his order and I'd buy it for him. He told me to **** off. I also had a romantic get-away to San Fran with a girl friend of mine and we were plagued by panhandlers that whole trip. In the end she gave me a bunch of flack for not feeling charitable for them. It wasnt the reason we broke up but it contributed.

I'm minorly charitable when it comes to the Women's Shelter, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Clothing drives like the Disabled Vets but I just refuse to give money out of my pocket to someone I don't know and have no idea what it will be used for.

Especially the guy in a late model mercedes always at the same gas station asking for the 2 dollars to get him enough gas to get home :(

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I buy 'em food rather than give 'em money, and I'm "happy" to say that most of the guys/women appreciate the food. The rare few who don't won't see anything from me again. Simple.

Then watch out for the guy in front of 1001 McKinney. He eats five Subway Seafood footlongs a day.

Seriously...

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Then you submit them to the life on the streets with no healthcare, drug or alcohol rehabilitation or job training.  Give to your favorite charity, but giving them a dollar or two is counterproductive.

Yes, it's all part of my mad scheme to reduce the homeless to utter uselessness! Bwaa Haa Haa Haa!

Seriously, I understand your point, but I also sort of like the idea of no-strings/no-judgement charity. It's just a personal thing. I don't think it makes a real difference in the big picture, but it always just seems so awful to see people reduced to panhandling at lights. A couple bucks can't hurt.

With that said, this is to all the religious people out there. In my opinion, our churches are the bedrock for which to build programs to fix this.

Got to disagree with you there, chum. Churches are private institutions with no legal obligation to provide charity for the homeless. Not that isn't nice if they do, but we can't force them to it.

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Saw this on last nights news.

New home for downtown homeless?

06:18 PM CST on Wednesday, January 5, 2005

By Jason Whitely / 11 News

Click to watch video

A Houston church is finding it tough to forgive unholy acts by some congregates. It's an example of a larger problem that began when dozens of homeless people started gathering in one area near downtown.

KHOU

The Pierce Elevated has long been a popular campground for the homeless.

At the Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral, folks have prayed a lot about this problem. Dozens of homeless have encamped under the Pierce elevated.

Vagrants allegedly threaten parishioners, try to steal offering boxes under prayer candles and even panhandle during mass.

"These are desperate acts of people," said Noel Cowart with the Downtown/Midtown Residents Association.

Noel Cowart lives nearby and says ever since the stadiums moved downtown and the park across from the Toyota Center was closed, the number of street people under the Pierce Elevated has grown to almost 200.

So have the problems.

"Is it the city's fault? Is it the state's fault? Is it the county's fault? TxDOT's? Nobody wants to take responsibility for it," complained Scott Munroe who owns a nearby McDonald's. "I think I heard this is basically a park."

"This is a park. Pierce Park Plaza," agreed Cowart.

The city leases the land under the freeway from TxDOT. The Parks Department cleans it. But no one's kicking the homeless out.

"Where are we going to go?! Where? Nobody will help us," said Lori Jean Edwards, who is homeless.

That may be changing. Councilman Michael Berry tells us he's looking for a solution within the city. But another group of homeless shelters, agencies and downtown organizations says it already has one and is about to present it.

"Immediately we hope to move them from the street to a stable environment," said Anthony Love, President/CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless. "Then once we get them from the street to a stable environment, assess them to be able to transition them to a more longer-term place of residence."

It's unclear how quickly the program will begin or how many homeless will move to temporary housing. But a similar idea worked ten years ago. Many hope it will this time, too.

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Remember the Pierce Elevated "bum sweep" back in 89 or so?

That was supposed to put and end to it.  And FWIW, it is illegal to camp under an Interstate.

I remember that and I also know that it is illegal to sleep there but I see it all over the place everyday. And it is getting worse. One of the worst places is near the soup kitchen just north of and on the other side of 59 near Minute Maid park. I see them bothering people going the game all the time.

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Houston = Haven for the Homeless

Houston is hardly unique in this respect. Almost every large city has problems with the homeless. Personally I don't have a big problem with the homeless camping out under the Pierce Elevated. Lacking other housing alternatives, at least this provides some measure of shelter from the rain, it isn't in a heavy pedestrian area, and the land under the freeway isn't being used for anything anyway. If you are worried about the homeless overrunning the downtown park, then this might be an alternative to be encouraged.

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Well, the problem with Houston's homeless is that they seem "hopelessly homeless". I get the impression that Houston is not the first stop for a homeless person, but rather the last. A place where they feel they can survive on panhandling alone, thus having to go no farther across the U.S. to find another city to squat in.

Under a bridge is no alternative to anything, much less a park. They need shelter & rehabilitation. I won't gripe much past that as I have no way to really help solve the problem.

Glen

I understand your frustration, Glen, but having lived in a few major cities in my life, I can honestly say that the same characteristics you see in Houston's homeless population is the same that you'll find in many other large cities. In some cases, it's worse elsewhere, because some cities don't really look to "control" where the homeless population congregates and so you'll find many of them camping out in public parks near residential communities (such as North Miami Beach, Florida or in many areas of San Francisco).

My biggest issue is that there aren't any controls for roadside panhandling, where you can see that the panhandler has been at a location for a good while and has strewn a good amount of litter/waste in the area, which contributes to the intersection's unseemliness.

And I would imagine that would be one of the casual operator's biggest concerns with the number of homeless that congregates under the Pierce Elevated: the litter left in their wake.

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  • The title was changed to Future Downtown Parkland Sale Finalized

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