Decoding the Code Building Sale

DECODING THE CODE BUILDING SALE City council today approved the sale of Houston’s code enforcement building at 3300 Main St. to the Midtown Redevelopment Authority, for $5 million. The 57,899 sq.-ft. structure and parking garage on a full Midtown block, which also houses the city’s Green Building Resource Center, received several sealed private-sector bids before the February 17th due date. Last week, Mayor Parker declared that the Midtown TIRZ had submitted the high bid, but 2 council members disputed that, claiming the group hadn’t submitted a bid for the property at all. (One of them, Anne Clutterbuck, was the lone dissenter in today’s vote.) Chronicle reporter Chris Moran hasn’t been able to get a straight answer yet, but interprets a staff report to mean that the TIRZ did not submit a formal bid — the city simply determined a purchase from the government entity would be “the most advantageous.” What’s all the fuss? “The city built the sale of 3300 Main into its FY 11 budget, and it is now depending on that sale to help it bridge a $21 million projected budget shortfall for the fiscal year that ends June 30. There is still no information on what the Authority might do with the property, which remains off the tax rolls as long as it is owned by a public entity.” [Houston Politics]

16 Comment

  • I’m excited Midtown has this property now. They’re job is to ensure this turns out to be a nice development so they can increase the tax rolls. Rumor has it that the city lot next door was bought by an arts group w/ plans to build a huge performance theater on the block :)

  • If they blow it up, PLEASE PLEASE let me push the button. I get nightmares thinking about that building and what I’ve had to put up with inside.

  • I see a flip in its future.

  • I am not sure how it will happen – but I see a kick back for Anise in the future.

  • @Adam,
    “They’re job is to ensure this turns out to be a nice development so they can increase the tax rolls.”
    Why the middleman, if several groups submitted bids for it, presumably not to let it sit there? Why not just sell it to a private developer?

  • Amazing an Authority that is funded by the City in a manner of speaking who in turn is funded by the taxpayer yet, if I remember correctly a City that is currently laying off employees due to financial dire straights and yet has $5mil to spend on a building that was owned by the city itself? Wait a minute, so no actual money is changing hands but is put on the books to make it appear as though income has been made with the possibility of tax revenues should a private company make the actual purchase but wait again, The TIRZ does not pay taxes now does it. Smoke and mirrors , three card Monty, cook the books Mayor Parker to facilitate the image you have actually helped the City or maybe your cronies, ingenious.

  • Dgstal has no understanding of how the TIRZ process works.

  • More crooked, opaque, good old boy deals. Somethings never change in this city.

  • @Jason:
    Educate us, then?

  • Yes Jason please tells us people how a Tax Reinvestment Zone works again and exactly where the money comes from as it is a tax reinvestment so it started out from let’s see, the tax payer, right? Please enlighten us unknowing, if not you might interest someone in a PONZI Scheme you may have cooking?

  • My rank speculation (come on, it is the internet, isn’t it?) is that the TIRZ is buying this plot to hold it for the preferred well connected developer who is snuggly with the City rather than let it go to a speculator who will demo and flip it, making a nice buck in a sale to a developer if the economy starts chugging along again.

  • TIRZs just seem so shady.
    Their formation seems to be an acknowledgement that the city can’t do it’s job.
    I have yet to actually find anybody explain to me how the decision is made to form one, how they really work, or how they can be held accountable.

  • @Jason and @Dgstal…
    TIRZ’s are setup as entities to help revitalize areas that developers won’t touch with a 1000ft pole. The Midtown TIRZ was instrumental in bringing about the turnaround you see today (and there are still lots of areas that need work because Midtown is a huge area). The revenue for a TIRZ is collected from property owners as a certain percentage of what their property value is. The city still gets a cut of taxes… but that value is capped at the tax revenues they received prior to the initiation of the TIRZ. Any property created and valued higher than that of ten years ago, well Midtown gets that to improve streets (Bagby coming soon), and encourage more development. In this case, Midtown has grown tremendously and the tax base has expanded a ton… so they have a separate pool of money in which they can invest back into the neighborhood. In this case, my theory is that Midtown would rather see a mixed-use, BIG development go in instead of a two story structure/rehab/town-home situation. It’s a prime location that would be horrible if someone just bought it to let the building rot (think of the Central Square building).

  • @awp,
    TIRZ’s are formed by the majority of property owners in the proposed area. Here’s a PDF that will answer all of your questions:$FILE/Clark%20Lord.pdf

  • Thanks Adam, speaking of Central Square, Which is only one of the properties Al Antonini (5104565901) owns that he and unfortunately the City allows him to let go to waste, like Westbury Square that will probably be sitting until it finally collapses.

  • I was a founding member of the Midtown TIRZ in the late 90s.

    Back then it was gas lamps and park benches and a few trees.

    This move is out of the ordinary for sure.

    Hopefully it’ll pay off for the hood.