Digging Out from Heaven on Earth

DIGGING OUT FROM HEAVEN ON EARTH Updated task list for the investor group that bought the dilapidated and long-vacant Heaven on Earth Plaza Hotel at 801 St. Joseph Pkwy. at Travis St. Downtown 3 years ago: 1) Pay off $4.2 million mortgage on property; 2) work way out of bankruptcy (declared just last week, to avoid foreclosure); 3) close on $22 million construction loan to redevelop the 31-story former Holiday Inn (and later Days Inn) into an “as economy class as possible” hotel. Meanwhile, New Era Hospitality — the group that bought the property in 2008 from a fund connected to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi — recently spent around $30,000 to secure the building, after receiving a stream of municipal citations for “dangerous building parts, visual blight, unsecured entrances, and signs of urine and bodily fluids.” The project’s general contractor tells Purva Patel that plans to turn the gutted property into an “upscale” hotel have been scaled back. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: arch-ive.org

14 Comment

  • They did have a unarmed “security guard” w/no vehicle, no telephone, no flashlight for about 6 weeks after the City of H. hauled ‘em into court. He is no longer there at night (probably didn’t get paid) . . . just a matter of time before the crackheads are back inside.
    This was a well-known crack hotel back in the 90′s. That may be its highest and best use

  • While walking on the Y track yesterday, I noticed two guys standing next to a white pick-up parked on the upper level of the garage. Too far away for lip-reading. From their attire and body language, however, my guess is that they were construction/builder guys talking about what needs to happen next in the space. So maybe they are getting things back on track. Then again, maybe they were just talking about what needs to happen to deal with the signs of urine and bodily fluids. (By the way, when they say urine AND bodily fluids, do they mean blood? Is this part of the zombie problem everyone’s so het up about? If so, maybe we can just nip this whole thing in the bud by tearing this place down.)

  • must be nice to be able to get a construction loan for $22m after declaring bankruptcy. Meanwhile I can’t get a home loan on a house I could pay cash for.
    .
    Okay, I’ve made my one grip about banks today. Now I just have to find a story to slip in a grip about red tags :)

  • They need to demolish that building. It has been an eyesore for far too long.

  • They need to demolish that building. It has been an eyesore for far too long.

    Tear it down, but what will happen when there aren’t any more ’80′s designed mimai vice buildings!?! Truly we will be worse off without this bastion of inspired architecture.

  • This building looks (from an archictural viewpoint) a lot like the retirement home on Post Oak, which seems to have some economic value: http://www.seniorsforliving.com/community/The-Hampton-at-Post-Oak/

    With that said, there is too much of a glut of real estate downtown for this building to be all that desirable. I hope something of value comes of it, but I am not holding my breath. Maybe in a couple of decades the property will be ready for redevelopment, but the building itself might not survive as-is that long.

  • “I can’t get a home loan on a house I could pay cash for.”

    #whitewhine

  • bemocked: hahah, totally :)

  • a definite Zombie hangout…

  • Lols, bemocked. I was thinking something similar… :)

  • #10, yeah, that did sound douche. I didn’t mean cash to buy a river oaks dream home. I’m talking about one of a billion great (many cheap) properties on the market that would be outstanding for rentals that are otherwise empty and rotting. I’ve bought a few in the past (when I was dealing with single family), but very rarely via a traditional loan as they’re (almost) impossible to get.
    .
    There are tons of homes sitting empty, many held by banks, where if they’d just do new loans on them easily then they could get them off their books. Sure some might end up coming back but even if 20% came back, at least they got rid of 80% (and got to keep the down payment on the ones they ended up getting back). But they’ll just sit on homes and try to underwrite them to a new buyer the way they would a new loan. It’s crazy. Especially when there are qualified buyers with down payments that could snatch them all up (I don’t qualify due to the fannie limit on how many existing mortgages a new buyer can have. Stupid)
    .
    Anyway, this whole topic drives me nuts.

  • Cody (#11) – I wasn’t trying to be mean… I appreciated that you took my snark gracefully in #8.

  • The City of Houston needs to grow a pair and take these properties from the owners for the numerous violations they have been racking up for years. It is also time to restore buildings like The Texas Company building and the other vacant jewels left downtown. The history, architecture and beauty of downtown is in the old as well as the new…..HUD has the money many of the older buildings once housed retail on the ground floor, so it is a win, win….. Why build another Faux walking retail scape when the bones are there people…. Also Macy’s needs to light up the old Foley’s like a damn Christmas tree to run the bums off…..bright lights= no sleep for bums….also Macy’s WTF with how the downtown store is being kept……..clean it up, return it to a Flagship, be a leader, not another money whore………plenty of funds out there for historic restoration, which includes retail Macy’s!!!!!

  • @Charles, who is going to pay for all these projects you desire?