Crews of Excavators, Flocks of Birds Now Have Exxon’s Empty Katy Fwy. Chemical HQ in Their Claws, Talons

A Swamplot reader noticed that demolition crews are now trashing the conference center at the abandoned ExxonMobil Chemical Company headquarters next to Terry Hershey Park, leaving a grizzly roadside scene along Memorial Dr. “More concerning,” writes the reader, “is that they drained the ponds and did not relocate the waterfowl.

At least it’s still theirs to call their own — until PM Realty finds new tenants to replace the Exxon employees that left the property starting in 2014. Without anyone around to disturb the wildlife for now, “They are swimming in the tiny little bit of water left and otherwise just hanging out,” like so:

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Previously-underwater infrastructure makes a pretty good perching place once you get used to it:

So do land vehicles:

The water at the complex — renamed Republic Square — runs between the dying conference center and the main office building, still standing closer up to the Katy Fwy. on the north side of the 35-acre site:

PM Realty scrapped its mixed-use plans for the complex in 2016 — 2 years after buying it from Exxon  — because oil companies were contracting and hurting the office market. Boxer Property came on board to handle the new renovation plans, geared toward refilling the existing office buildings as opposed to building anything new.

Exxon Exodus

10 Comment

  • And they spent almost the entire year since Harvey remediating that building. Re the wildlife, they can relocate 300 yards west to the Westlake campus.

  • Wonder if they saved the fish and turtles that were in the water? So very sad, that was such a beautiful property.

  • The main (older) C-shaped office building just narrowly avoided flooding into the first floor. The basement parking garage and all mechanical systems located in the basement were completely submerged. Last update from the developer was that this building will reopen in Q3, and that the lakes have been drained for cleaning/refurbishment and will be refilled.
    .
    Not to armchair-quarterback, but I’m wondering if the conference center really needed to go. Yes, it flooded badly, but so did hundreds of apartments, office buildings, and high-end single-family homes in the surrounding area (between Eldridge and Hwy 6), and every single one of them is being rebuilt rather than demolished. Was the conference center built out of cardboard or something? What really stings is, right before Harvey, the developer cleared a ton of trees just south of the conference center to build a new parking lot (despite the complex having a ton of garage and surface lot space already). Won’t even be needed now.
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    I’m hoping that any future redevelopment of the site can be limited to within the footprint of the old conference center and the already-cleared field near the I-10 feeder road. They’ve taken enough trees already.

  • I am hopeful that within a few generations all of humanity will be swept from this planet so that plants and animals can flourish without our selfishness and stupidity.

  • Umm, those aren’t “waterfowl,” those are vultures. Good luck trying to relocate them.

  • @marci the fish were flushed out by Harvey. The turtles and other critters became vulture food – hence all the vultures inhabiting this property, stinking up the place.

  • The scene is grisly, not grizzly. Vultures are feasting but not on large bears.

  • The waterfowl have the capacity to move wherever they want, so if they need more water they will go where there is no water. Also, the “birds” in your photos are buzzards, not waterfowl.

  • Perhaps someone more familiar with the situation can comment on this My impression that that the area under discussion has been a prime habitat for turkey vultures (“buzzards”). There have long been jokes about the BP facilities nearby being focus areas for them when layoffs were imminent

    What bugs me about development in that area is that it seems to have been a showcase for developers who are drawn to an area in which much value is associated with the natural forest, and then proceed to clearcut that forest and put in dense townhome developments and/or parking lots.

    I used to ride my bike there as a kid in the 60s. When I drive through there now, it just makes me think how soulless Houston has been since then. At least some places (like the Memorial Villages) have had some form of land-used controls in place that have fended off the devastation. Strange that, eh? A series of enclaves inhabited by wealthy movers and shakers who don’t want to live in a neighborhood in which developers can do their thing without constraints.

  • Great update. Thanks. Note that the black “perchers” are no doubt black American vultures. They clean up the roadkill in the area and regularly sail and circle around the BP Tower on Memorial Drive, taking advantage of the uplift there. Also call Bear Creek Park home, where they constitute the most conspicuous wild component of the aviary (the lame caged owls, talking parrot, and the peacock are also a big draw). A huge colony of vultures likes to hang out with the pot-bellied porkers in their enclosure. Their presence on the ground elsewhere is often a good indicator of dead meat nearby. Like dead armadillos, deer, rodents. Dead waterfowl in this case, perhaps. Or dried-up turtles.