What led up to the neighborly lawsuit filed last week over the former Houston Chronicle building’s planned demolition? A pair of letters filed with the county clerk’s office as part of the suit sheds a little light on the back-and-forth between the building’s new owners and their new neighbors. Plaintiff Theater Square, a partnership controlled by construction and development firm Linbeck, is developing the downtown block marked SITE in the map above, immediately across Prairie St. from the former Chronicle property (bought last year by Hines entity Block 58 Investors). Theater Square wants to link its own could-be-a-Class-A-contender block into the Downtown tunnel network (traced above in solid black).
The company sued both Hines and Chronicle owner Hearst News last week to stop the demo, claiming that Hearst gave it property rights to build a new tunnel through the newspaper building’s basement (via the route shown in stripes above along Travis St.) and that the demo (as currently intended) interferes with that plan. Theater Square sent a letter to Hines on April 15th citing news stories about the impending demo and requesting both access to inspect the basement and assurances that the demolition would be carried out in a way that doesn’t harm certain existing structures that the new tunnel’s already-semi-permitted building plans depend on.
Hines’s response is dated from the following Wednesday; the lawsuit was filed later that night. Hines states in its letter that it had repeatedly informed Theater Square that yes, the building would be demolished; no, Hines won’t keep the basement intact, as that would interfere with its own interests; and no, Theater Square can’t come in. The Hines letter also references previous letters from October, November, February, and March not included in the filing.
- Previously on Swamplot: Hines and Hearst Get Sued Over Planned Demo of Former Houston Chronicle Building; Former Houston Chronicle Headquarters Starts Getting Dressed Up To Go Away Downtown; Buyer of Chronicle Complex Downtown Not Expected To Crush It Just Yet; Is This the 41-Story Office Tower Planned Beside Market Square Park Downtown?
Map of proposed tunnel extension beneath Prairie St.: Theater Square LP via Harris County District Clerk