What led up to theÂ neighborly lawsuitÂ filed last week overÂ the formerÂ Houston Chronicle building’s plannedÂ demolition?Â A pair ofÂ letters filed with the county clerk’s officeÂ as part of the suit sheds a littleÂ light on the back-and-forth between the building’s new owners and their new neighbors.Â Plaintiff Theater Square,Â a partnership controlled by construction and development firm Linbeck,Â is developing the downtown block marked SITEÂ in the map above, immediately across Prairie St. from the former Chronicle property (bought last year by HinesÂ entityÂ Block 58Â Investors).Â Theater SquareÂ wantsÂ to linkÂ its own could-be-a-Class-A-contenderÂ block into the Downtown tunnel networkÂ (traced above in solid black).
The company sued both Hines and Chronicle ownerÂ Hearst NewsÂ last week to stop the demo, claiming that HearstÂ 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)Â interferes with that plan. Theater Square sent a letter to Hines on April 15thÂ 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 certainÂ existing structures that the new tunnel’s already-semi-permitted building plans dependÂ on.
Hines’s response is datedÂ from the following Wednesday;Â the lawsuit was filed later that night. Hines states in itsÂ letter that itÂ had repeatedly informed Theater Square thatÂ yes, the building would be demolished;Â no, HinesÂ won’t keep the basement intact, as that would interfere withÂ its ownÂ interests; and no, Theater Square can’t come in.Â The Hines letter alsoÂ references previous lettersÂ from October, November, February, and March not included in the filing.
- Previously on Swamplot:Â Hines and Hearst Get Sued Over Planned Demo of Former Houston Chronicle Building;Â Former Houston Chronicle Headquarters Starts Getting Dressed Up To Go Away Downtown;Â Buyer of Chronicle Complex Downtown Not Expected To Crush It Just Yet;Â 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 ClerkÂ